BOOOOOOOO!!!!! The New York Jets have their first home pre-season game tonight and Mark Sanchez will be starting at quarterback. BOOOOO!!!!!!! Of course Jets fans will enthusiastically boo their starting quarterback before he even takes a snap. Let’s crack open the 12 Pack and get into our Jets/Jags preview
1. The battle at wide receiver for roster spots and playing time is becoming more intriguing by the day. Stephen Hill and Clyde Gates have put together stronger than expected camps and are locks to make the roster with Jeremy Kerley. The three of them have predominantly been working with the first offense. Santonio Holmes will claim another roster spot, even if he doesn’t end up playing until week 6 or 7. After those four, figure there are two spots remaining. It’d be shocking at this point if UDFA Ryan Spadola didn’t make the roster. The youngster has played well enough to receive occasional work with the starters and is also making an impression on special teams, an absolute must for a 4th or 5th receiver. Ben Obomanu led all Jets receivers in catches and yards last week and is also noted for his special teams ability. Where does this leave Braylon Edwards? The veteran needs to make a few impact plays in the next couple of weeks to prove his worth on offense, especially since he doesn’t play special teams. Zach Rogers is also in the mix because of his ability as a returner and long term potential on offense.
2. I don’t expect Geno Smith to suit up tonight. However, if he does it sounds like he won’t be entering the game until the third quarter. The rookie needs to still play with confidence and push the ball down the field more aggressively than he did last week. He has nothing to hang his head about at this point and should receive an extended look with the starters next week if he is fully healthy.
3. Mark Sanchez needs to protect the football, period. He can put a stranglehold on this job by playing like he did against Detroit last week, minus the horrific turnover. I have no idea at this point what to predict or project for this guy. He is still too erratic. I do think he could do some good things in Marty Morhinweg’s offense but he needs to find some degree of consistency.
4. CHRIS IVORY! Finally, we will get to see the Jets prized off-season acquisition at running back. I’d look for him to get 4-6 carries and hopefully bring some pop to a backfield desperately in need of it. Beyond him, don’t expect Bilal Powell to get anywhere near as much work as he did last week. The Jets can’t burn him out in August. There should be a huge helping of Chad Spann, Mossis Madu and Kahlil Bell.
5. Hopefully rookie Guard Brian Winters can suit up tonight. The Jets need him on the field so he can move closer to taking the job from Stephen Peteman, who isn’t suited to be a starter at this point of his career.
6. Let’s see how Jaiquawn Jarrett handles his promotion into the starting line-up. We all love a comeback story but there are still valid concerns about his ability to cover and make wise decisions in the Jets scheme.
7. Demario Davis needs a solid outing. Teams are going to pick on him in the passing game. He has all the natural ability but still doesn’t look comfortable yet. Overall, this is still an inexperienced player who has plenty to prove.
8. Dee Milliner was inconsistent in his debut. Jacksonville doesn’t provide the greatest test at receiver, especially with Cecil Shorts not playing but Milliner needs to wrap up on his tackles in the open field and play the ball aggressively in the air. He is going to be frequently targeted all season.
9. Keep an eye on the variety of positions Sheldon Richardson lines up at tonight…same with Quinton Coples. One day…maybe around week 8 or 9…the NY media will realize Coples isn’t playing a traditional OLB spot in a 3-4.
10. Joe McKnight is going to hang on to a roster spot despite his highly concerning summer until somebody makes an impression at kick returner. Clyde Gates, Mike Edwards and Chad Spann should all get a shot back there tonight.
11. Players who need a bounce-back game – Ricky Sapp, Oday Aboushi, Antonio Allen, Kyle Wilson, Austin Howard (Our commenter Angel’s favorite player).
12. Just dirt the screen pass if it isn’t open, Mark.