The New York Jets and New York Giants meet this Saturday night at MetLife Stadium in their annual pre-season match-up. This is a critical game for the Jets, particularly quarterback Geno Smith, who is expected to start and will have an opportunity to seize the starting quarterback job. Many other positions still need to be sorted out on the team’s depth chart and roster bubble. Let’s crack open the 12 Pack for our preview…
1. Geno Smith is coming off a hot week of practice but it will mean nothing if he doesn’t play aggressively and consistently move the football. Smith has all the physical tools but we need to see him do more than complete a handful of three-step drops and check-downs. He must flex his arm strength in the intermediate to deep passing game and use his legs, even if he fancies himself a pocket passer, when the Jets dial up read-option for him. Regardless, of what anybody thinks, the opportunity is still there for him to win the job. This is a terrific early test in his career to see if he can rise to the occasion.
2. The Jets recently signed veteran receiver Mohammad Massaquoi, who flashed some potential back in 2009 and 2010 but has struggled the past few years. As of now, Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, Clyde Gates and Ryan Spadola have all locked up roster spots. The Jets are likely to keep one more receiver because of injury concerns around Holmes and Gates. Massaquoi will be competing for the final spot with Braylon Edwards, who has been banged up and is basically running with the third team, Ben Obomanu who brings solid special teams ability and Zach Rogers who has some long term potential and can be a returner. Jets fans don’t seem to want to accept that Edwards is on the bubble but he is and the Massaquoi signing only further emphasizes that.
3. Joe McKnight will make his pre-season debut after dealing with a rough summer. He likely saw Clyde Gates rip off a few nice returns last week and Kahlil Bell run for a pair touchdowns and realized he was drifting directly on to the roster bubble. It will be interesting to see how Marty Mornhinweg uses him and if he gets any reps with the first offense.
4. Bilal Powell has proven himself this summer. He is going to be on the team and a regular contributor on the offense. At the risk of overworking him, the Jets should limit his action Saturday night. Let Chris Ivory take a few more hits to get into regular season shape and give extended work to McKnight, Bell, Chad Spann and Mossis Madu. Powell is the team’s most reliable player in the backfield right now, they can’t afford to have him banged up.
5. Dee MIlliner has been struggling with a calf injury all week and it remains to be seen how much he will play on Saturday. He needs all the work he can get after a rough outing last Saturday against Jacksonville. Kyle WIlson is going to spend more and more time in a hybrid safety role, opening the door for players like Darrin Walls and Isaiah Trufant to grab a bigger role on the defense.
6. Quinton Coples is going to be replaced by a collection of players, considering the versatility of his role on the defense. Garrett McIntyre, Antwan Barnes and Sheldon Richardson will all be chipping in certain things to help fill the gap. The Jets needs Barnes in particular to consistently bring some pressure off the edge.
7. Antonio Allen is going to get another crack at safety with the starters after sitting behind Jaiquawn Jarrett last week. The spot opposite Dawan Landry is likely going to be a mish-mash of Allen, Jarrett, Kyle Wilson and Josh Bush all season. It’d be surprising to see one player truly seize the job and regularly play starter level reps.
8. It has been a strong overall summer for the Jets tight ends and receivers. Hopefully they continue building their momentum heading into week one. Jeff Cumberland, in particular, looks like he could be a major weekly factor in Mornhinweg’s offense. Stephen Hill had one drop last week but beyond that he’s been steady. It’d be nice to see him get behind the defense this Saturday and start becoming the deep threat the team drafted him to be.
9. I’m already shuddering thinking about David Harris trying to tackle David Wilson in space…more-so, I’m already shuddering about Tampa Bay scheming to get Doug Martin matched up in space with Harris, Calvin Pace or Garrett McIntyre…yikes.
10. It sounds like Vlad Ducasse is going to start at left guard, which is further affirmation of how bad Stephen Peterman has been this summer and of the need for Brian Winters to get healthy and pick up the offense.
11. We don’t give the kickers enough love…Nick Folk has been great all summer. Keep it up!
12. Stay with us all season on the Road to MetLife Stadium in February, as we are partnering with a few different groups to provide different giveaways and access to our readers throughout the season, starting with two tickets to Jets/Eagles on Thursday. Make sure you are following Turn On The Jets on Twitter!