ALAMEDA Peering across the country at the New York Jets, Hue Jackson said last week he sees a team that is tough, mean and, yes, "the bullies of the East."
Three weeks into the first season of Jackson's campaign to create a similar identity in Oakland, the Raiders are still figuring out where they stand on the NFL playground. So what better way than today's visit from the Jets to shed some light?
"We're going to see where we're at," said Raiders center Samson Satele. "We say we're building a bully, and this is a bully team that's coming in. See if we can match 'em, bully them up before they bully us."
Satele, naturally, said that will start at the line, where the Jets like to establish a pounding running game and, under head coach Rex Ryan, use multiple defensive fronts and blitzes to confuse and stifle opposing offenses.
Oakland's offensive line, said left tackle Jared Veldheer, must figure out how to "play without thinking about it. Get to the point where you know who's out there, you know what's coming."
The defensive line, meanwhile, will line up across from a Jets unit featuring rookie Colin Baxter at center instead of All-Pro Nick Mangold, sidelined by a high ankle sprain.
"If the defense is up first, they'll set the tempo, and if we're up first, we'll set the tempo," Satele said. "The whole game will be played off of us."
It was Oakland that got pushed around at home when the teams last met on Oct. 25, 2009. In Ryan's first season as head coach in New York, the Jets rushed for 316 yards in a 38-0 win.
The Jets reached the AFC championship game that season and the next, and adopted the swagger of Ryan, who had come over from Baltimore where he coached with Jackson in 2008.
Ryan was the Ravens' defensive coordinator that season, while Jackson coached quarterbacks. The first-year Raiders head coach said this week that Ryan shares some of the qualities Jackson is trying to instill in his team.
"We believe in violent, physical, tough, aggressive football teams," Jackson said. "And I'm going to build it here."
Ryan, asked during a conference call with reporters this week how he established a tone in New York, said he was "just myself when I came here."
"I'm fortunate to have a lot of excellent coaches with me, and it was just something we believe, and that's the style," Ryan said. "Whether it's building a bully or playing like a Jet or whatever it is, this is coming in, this is our football team, this is how we play.
"We're a passionate football team, play snap-to-whistle, play for 60 minutes, and that's the type of team here, the type of character, we have in our room."
Jackson said he admires that Ryan has put together a team of "his kind of guys, the guys that believe what he sells."
"(Ryan) believes in the system," Jackson said. "He has a way of putting guys in position to make plays. I truly respect that. That's what we're trying to create here for our team.
"We're trying to put guys in the best position to be all they can be offense, defense, special teams. Not that we're modeling after the Jets or Baltimore or any of that. That's just my philosophy.