Aug 22, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Corey Washington (6) and wide receiver Preston Parker (83) tackle New York Jets cornerback Johnny Patrick (22) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. New York Giants won 35-24. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Tonight kicks off the annual “MetLife Bowl” featuring the New York Jets vs New York Giants as both teams look to build off of what they did last week. Gang Green is coming off of a 30-22 win over the Falcons in which they made few mistakes outside of their eye-opening 17 penalties while Big Blue took down Jacksonville 22-12.
Both of those mistakes actually came in first quarter action that was by no means pretty for the Jets. Quinton Coples misjudged a pass to fullback Collin Mooney who took it 60 yards down the field and long-snapper Tanner Purdum whiffed on a tackle of Devin Hester which led to a return inside the 5 yard line. As a result, the Falcons put themselves ahead 14-0 to begin the game.
Despite the miscues, there were obviously many positives to take away from the win. Gang Green was able to move the ball downfield efficiently while remaining turnover-free. Running backs Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell carried the load for most of the first half rushing for 63 yards on 10 carries. From 33 yards out, Ivory was able to get around the end and put on the after-burners to score the Jets’ first touchdown of the preseason.
To see New York’s backfield producing this early in the year is a great sign, especially with the chaos at the quarterback position. Along with the backs, there are plenty of other guys that must stand out against Big Blue in hope to stay on the right foot as the regular season approaches. Here are 3 players that must shine in tonight’s matchup.
Next: 3. Ryan Fitzpatrick
Aug 21, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) attempts to pass against the Atlanta Falcons during first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Fitzpatrick has proven in the first two preseason games he can move the ball down the field and remain on the same page with his receivers. Something his teammate Geno Smith cannot always do. The Harvard product finished Friday night 13/19 for 118 yards with no touchdowns or turnovers connecting with Brandon Marshall 4 times for 62 yards.
In the opener against the Lions, Fitzpatrick hooked up with Marshall on a 12-yard pass that moved the chains for one of New York’s six first downs in the entire game. Luckily for the Jets, it seems as if the two have already built a decent chemistry that should progress nicely as the weeks go on.
Given the fact that he will play at least two full quarters tonight, Fitzpatrick must standout against the hometown rival. Big Blue’s secondary is depleted, specifically at the safety position, even when second-round pick Landon Collins is on the field. Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are still manning both cornerback spots, but they have minimal help over the top.
Fitzpatrick could have a field day throwing the ball over the middle to Marshall and Decker, so it’ll be interesting to see what offensive coordinator Chan Gailey draws up. Right now, journeyman Brandon Meriweather is the starting free safety opposite Collins, therefore he might be the guy the Jets pick on throughout the night. It’s safe to say his better days with the Patriots and Redskins are behind him. If Fitzpatrick can find a groove early on, Gang Green has a chance to put on an offensive show.
Next: 2. Jeremy Kerley
Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (11) in the first quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Thus far, Kerley has had a quiet camp and actually plays with the second-teamers a majority of the time. The TCU graduate has made just 2 catches throughout the preseason and he’s squaring off against some of the more inexperienced corners coming off the bench. As a veteran, he needs to become more reliable, especially since he’s working as the No. 1 receiver with the second-team offense. With Devin Smith sidelined, the depth at wideout has become very thin, so there will continue to be a lot of pressure on Kerley until everyone gets healthy.
Smith, Chris Owusu, and Shaq Evans are currently all banged up. This leaves New York with Quincy Enunwa, DeVier Posey and T.J. Graham as the guys alternating as the No. 4 receiver on the depth chart. Obviously, there is a huge gap between Kerley and those three in terms of talent. The former Horned-Frog has no other choice but to step up and produce when called upon or else he could find himself fighting for playing time when the season comes around.
If there was any game for Kerley to step up and shine, tonight would be the night. The Giants’ secondary is suffering from the injury bug big time, so Gang Green will most likely air it out a lot. As a result, depth has become a huge issue for Big Blue throughout the defense, which makes the door wide open for Kerley to have a big game. If he can make noise in tonight’s action, he should without a doubt secure himself as the No. 3 receiver on the depth chart.
Next: 1. Darrelle Revis
August 11, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive backs Antonio Cromartie (31) and Darrelle Revis (24) during practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports
The real show will take place Week 13, but everyone has been waiting patiently for the sneak-peek. Revis will be going head-to-head with superstar wideout Odell Beckham Jr. for a majority of the first half. Covering Julio Jones in last week’s game, Revis’ name was not announced outside of the questionable holding call he was flagged for on a 3rd and goal. Jones is notorious for ripping apart the top-tier corners whenever they cover him, so it was a bit surprising he was targeted just once. Some of his victims include Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson, therefore Revis should take pride in staying off that list.
Beckham on the other hand is no different. Last season, he emerged as arguably the best receiver in the league from a statistics standpoint for the amount of time he played. Beckham finished the year with 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in just 12 games. On top of that, he made 91 catches which averages to nearly 8 per game. Covering him will be a tough task for Revis who has noticeably lost his speed ever since his ACL injury, although he still remains the most physical corner in all of football.
Even though this match-up will last only two quarters, all eyes will be on it. Beckham has already beat Sherman and Vontae Davis, so everyone is now wondering if he can beat the best corner in the league. Coach Bowles may have a safety over the top whether it be Marcus Gilchrist or Jaiquawn Jarrett, but Eli Manning will still target Beckham regardless. Beckham has yet to catch a pass during the preseason and the Giants would love to have his first come against Revis. Let’s see how it all goes down when the two square off tonight.