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.