Aug 3, 2013; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) looks on during training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Expectations for the New York Jets' First Preseason Game

Training camp is going on around the country and the first NFL preseason game is less than a week away. I think a lot of us fanatics anxious to see any kind of football will watch Miami at Dallas this Sunday.  However, it will be more satisfying to watch Friday night’s game on August 9th when the Jets play the Lions.

I know I for one will be doing two things. First, I’ll be anticipating any and every failure the Dolphins have in the first game, and use that all week long as some kind of background as to why Miami will fail this year. Then when Friday comes, I’ll look for the five things we’re all probably looking for. Without wasting time, let’s get right to it.

5. The free safety and strong safety play. Will the Jets have issues in the secondary with Landry and either Allen or Bush playing the safety position? Who’s going to come out and start in the first quarter at free safety? I’ll assume it’s Bush, but the question is how well will he play? If it’s not too good is that a sign of things to come?

4. Offensive lineman. Teams usually carry 7 or 8 offensive lineman during regular season. The Jets have Ferguson, Peterman, Mangold, Colon, Howard, Aboushi, Ducasse, Winters, Landolt. That’s 9 if you include Dennis Landolt who spent some time last season with the team. Is this Ducasse’s last 4 games as a Jet? What’s the starting offensive line on opening day?

3. Chris Ivory vs. Bilal Powell. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that everyone expects Chris Ivory to be the starting back on opening day. Ivory however, hasn’t really practiced, has had a hamstring injury, and Bilal Powell is not going to give up a shot at the starting RB job. If Bilal outplays Ivory, will Powell be the starter, and Ivory the sub, and they split the carries evenly? This does not include Joe McKnight who in my opinion is a very gifted RB when given the carries to show it.

2. Kyle Wilson or Dee Milliner? Which one of these guys proves to be the better starting cornerback? All money goes to Milliner, but he hasn’t played a down of football in the NFL, or adjusted to the learning curve yet. Corners aren’t given jobs, they have to compete and earn them somewhat. Milliner could be as high as the #2 CB on the depth chart or fall behind Wilson, and even Ellis Lankster. The evaluation process all starts on Friday.

1. The main event. Mark Sanchez vs Geno Smith. Here’s where it gets tricky. It’s a lot easier to perform against a 2nd string defense than against a 1st string defense. How do you evaluate that? QB reads, progressions, footwork, getting the players lined up, and getting the ball out quickly and accurately are more important than straight statistics. I would assume that will be the measuring stick throughout the preseason until a starter is named.

That’s my two cents on what I’ll be watching for when Friday August 9th rolls around. In a strange way, I’m also happy that the first game is away and not at home, so the home crowd doesn’t start begging for Geno Smith before he’s even thrown his first NFL pass.

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  • Korwil

    I was wondering who you think the Jets should start in the first preseason game. I honestly believe that starting Geno will be the better idea in order to gauge what we will get from him. I want to see how he does in real live game action where Suh will be bearing down on him and will actually be able to hit him (not wishing for him to get hit, but the mindset is obviously different for a QB).

    Also, the WR position battle will be interesting as it seems Hill has garnered a spot as #1 or #2 and then we see a bit of a fight between Gates and Edwards. Spadola and Hazelton seem to be performing better than Obomanu, White and others so they might sneak onto the roster. I’m also happy with what we’ve seen from Powell at RB and I watched some highlights of him lighting up the green & white scrimmage.

    It will be interesting to watch the game this Friday and I’m just hoping we can score some TDs this year. We better not have the really bad breakdowns on the O-line that always seem to be prevalent for the Jets second team.

    • Vincent Hall

      I hope this is Hill’s breakout year, because he is going to be relied upon. If they can use him as the #1 target, it would really help to spread the field for Kerley who works well underneath, Edwards, and Winslow Jr. The team has let go of Jordan White before even playing the first preseason game, so I think that shows how highly they think of Gates, Hazelton, and Sapolda. I don’t think however that Holmes will be the same. His injury usually takes 2 years to recover, and that is just to 70-80% of what your foot used to be like. That’s just in us normal human beings though so who knows?

  • Frank Antonelli

    I think you missed the most important thing about the QB battle and that is TURNOVERS. We can’t have the number of turnovers we’ve experienced the last two years. From all indications to date Geno gives us the best chance of keeping that football away from the opposition. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues into the pre-season games. If Geno is able to continue to protect the football and Mark continues to turn it over then the choice is pretty clear.

    • Vincent Hall

      Frank, I was going to include the turnovers but I chose to stay away from the sore subject. My reasoning was this. I think whoever is better able to move the ball and score points will start, regardless of the turnovers unless they are excessive. By excessive I would say more than 1 or 2 in 4 preseason games. If Sanchez throws an INT, but also tosses 5 or so TD’s while Geno throws 1 or 2 TD’s w/out an interception I think the job will still be Sanchez’s. Basically whoever can put points on the board. That’s just my line of thought, but who knows what the coach is thinking?

      • Frank Antonelli

        Absolutely. If the TDs far out pace the INTs then no-one will complain. That’s what good QBs are able to achieve. However, given past history this is unlikely to happen.

        Mark can’t continue his turnover machine act while leading the Jets to less than 20 points per game. Those turnovers also lead to increased scoring by the opposition. If you have a QB who also leads the team to less than 20 points per game but with a lot less turnovers the overall impact is better than what Mark accomplished last year. I think we all remember how many TDs the opposing defense scored and or set-up on our offense over the last two years. Eliminating those points will improve our record and keep Rex happy.

  • matr dontelli iii

    Joe McKnight has done nothing this preseason other than find reasons not to practice. I don’t think the few flashes he’s shown over the years will be enough to warrant staying on the roster. Everybody and their brother have returned kicks for touchdowns under mike westhoff. Joe had better start impressing someone or it won’t be over his dead body that they give the rb jobs to other rbs.

    • Vincent Hall

      I disagree with you. Joe couldn’t practice because he was lower than the recommended body fat percentage, and he had a concussion like head injury. I think when he had a chance to play his rookie year he had something like 30 carries for 180 yards his last game against Buffalo (not a fact, just my foggy memory). Last season also, he runs for good averages, but he does it in bunches. Other backs have done that as well, but needed the carries to get those total yards up. McKnight just hasn’t had that luxury. The team also didn’t know what to do with him, at some points they even wanted to make him a cornerback. He’s not my favorite Jet, but I would rather give him a 100 carries to see what he could do with the ball, rather than say he’s just a kick returner.

      • matr dontelli iii

        Vince, the buffalo game was the final of the season, the playoffs were already assured and half the jets were rested. Topping that off was the fact that this was a terrible buffalo team, even by the standards they had set. Joe was the third jet rb to rack up 100+ yards rushing against them that season. I agree the jets have not handled him properly, however there are rumors that’s due to a. Fumbles, b. failure to learn the play book, and c. Injuries. The confusion is compounded by Rex trying to use him on defense. I don’t think Rex would do that if he didn’t see something in him. Maybe it’s the offensive coordinators. Sparano was certainly undeserving if his position and when Schotty was here they had Tomlinson and Greene ahead of him. He’s got a chance this year and so far he’s done nothing to take advantage of it, lost body fat or otherwise. I understand migraines and wouldn’t wish them on anyone not even members of the circus media, but somehow this guy needs to get himself on the field and make an impression. He’s in the same place as ducasse, last year of his rookie deal and still hasn’t shown enough to indicate that he should be part of the future. I just don’t know if at this point you can give him a roster spot over a John griffin if griffin continues to show the promise I’ve been reading about. That said I would like to see what he could do with the touches.