As the New York Jets enter their third preseason game, there are more questions than answers. The defense has looked shaky and the passing game is clearly a work in progress without Geno Smith. There have been some positives however, as the offensive line has been very good in the run game and Brandon Marshall has been productive in the short to intermediate passing game. The special teams has not made many mistakes. There are building blocks, but the Jets need to play well Saturday. The starters will probably not play next week, so this will be our last chance to see the them before they kick this thing off against Cleveland. Here are six things we’re looking for come Saturday night against the Giants…
1. Pressure from the defensive line
The defensive line, namely Simba (Leonard Williams), began to get pressure against the Falcons second team offensive line. Other than that, the Jets defensive line has struggled without Mo Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. The Giants do not have a good OL, and this is a matchup that the Jets DL should dominate. We don’t know what kind of defense Todd Bowles is going to run out there, but you can expect that the DL will have to generate pressure consistently. It starts on Saturday.
2. Keep running Ivory
Chris Ivory, in case Jet fans have forgotten, is their best running back and will be the feature back despite concerns about his fit with Chan Gailey. Ivory has had a strong preseason and if healthy could have a career year. He’s been decisive with the ball, broken tackles, and used that deceptive agility to elude defenders. A good game against the Giants will cap off his best preseason as a Jet.
I’m actually getting tired of writing this, but I don’t understand what’s happening with Jeremy Kerley. He’s clearly the team’s third best WR, and yet has not gotten many reps with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Quincy Enunwa may have a higher ceiling (I’m not really sure he does) but Jeremy Kerley is the kind of WR that will extend drives for the Jets, and who would produce on those intermediate routes that Fitzpatrick excels at. The Giants have injuries at safety, so this game could be a springboard for Kerley’s season. (Note Kerley is likely a game time decision due to his concussion last week).
4. Force a turnover…first team defense
Something that doesn’t get talked about enough is the lack of takeaways by what has always been statistically a good defense under Rex Ryan. There are two eras for Rex defenses: the one with no DL and top flight corners and the one with DL and no corners. Bowles has both at his disposal, but if this defense really wants to be great they’re going to have force turnovers. Eli Manning has been an inaccurate QB at times, so the Jets can feast on wayward passes. The Giants OL is struggling so the Jets front seven should have strip sack opportunities. Force a turnover, and ignite your team.
5. Get TDs first team offense
Field goals won’t cut it, and this offense has struggled to generate positive plays this pre-season. They’ll get an extended opportunity this game, and Fitzpatrick and company need a good outing with touchdowns in order to quiet some of the concerns that have been raised. The running game appears to be solid, but the passing game is going to have to play well to ease the pressure on Ivory and Powell.
6, Who stands out?
Calvin Pryor, Dexter McDougle, and Trevor Reilly all have a chance to make an impact this year and this is an extended chance to do just that. Reilly in particular has a chance to solidify his roster spot with a good showing. Pryor has been getting outplayed by Rontez Miles, while McDougle is a potential starter on the outside down the road. This will be their best chance to impress the coaching staff, so all three have to make plays.