Oct 18, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets tight end Kellen Davis (47) recovers an onside kick in the second half against the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium. The Jets won 34-20. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets hit the road to face the Washington Redskins as these top three players need to shine to ensure victory.
The New York Jets will visit the Washington Redskins in Week 2 of the team’s preseason schedule. The last time these two met was of course in Week 6 of this past season. Gang Green took care of business 34-20, but this meeting will be much different. Mostly because it’s an exhibition match.
Head coach Todd Bowles and company came away with a 17-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in their first tune-up. As far as the performance went, it’s hard to complain about the production of both the starters and backups. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick hit wide receiver Quincy Enunwa on two long passes. While defensive end Leonard Williams and the rest of the front-seven looked stout. Wideouts Charone Peake, Jalin Marshall and Jeremy Ross showed they can also make an impact even if they’re buried on the depth chart.
On the other hand, the Redskins fell to the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 23-17. Quarterback Kirk Cousins and the other quarterbacks played mistake-free football. Their backfield showed it’s fair share of rustiness totaling a mere 79 yards on 24 attempts. Despite the slight struggles on offense, Washington’s defense looked stellar allowing just one touchdown on the night. Overall, there’s without question plenty to look forward to in the nation’s capital in 2016.
The Jets have a lot to look forward to as well, however certain players need to step up.
The roster is loaded and there are a number of guys on the bubble with time running out. Week 1 is on September 11th and it’s already mid-August. Here are the top three players who must shine against the Redskins and impress the coaching staff/front office.
Next: 3. A cornerback that continues to struggle
Aug 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Tony Washington (12) breaks a tackle by New York Jets cornerback Dee Milliner (27) and New York Jets strong safety Rontez Miles (45) during the second quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
3. Dee Milliner
The growing pains don’t seem to be ending anytime soon for cornerback Dee Milliner. The youngster was picked apart by Jacksonville and his poor display of tackling made it even worse. Wide receiver Allen Robinson had an absolute field day and with cornerback Darrelle Revis out, Milliner was predominately covering him. Marcus Williams‘ limited number of snaps didn’t exactly bail him out either.
Luckily, Washington is a team he has an opportunity to bounce back against.
The Redskins will be airing it out early and often, so the Alabama product should have many chances to knock passes away and make plays on the football. The issue that may continue is the bad tackling given the speed of the Redskins’ receivers.
DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder and Ryan Grant all have quickness which makes them extremely tough to bring down. What Milliner is going to have to do is jam at the line and give the pass rush time to get after the quarterback. In press coverage, the cornerbacks have the clear upper hand because none of those wideouts are strong. As long as Milliner stays out of the open field, this could end up being the bounce back night he desperately needs.
Next: 2. An offensive lineman working to become starter
Nov 8, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) leaps toward the goal line during the second half of the NFL game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium. The Jets won, 28-23. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
2. Brent Qvale
New York has a slowly developing problem at right tackle. Breno Giacomini is still banged up and rookie Brandon Shell is too young to take over as the starter immediately. This essentially makes the battle between Brent Qvale and Ben Ijalana. Since this is technically Ijalana’s first competition, the edge has to go to Qvale for the time being.
Ijalana was primarily D’Brickashaw Ferguson‘s backup, therefore he never truly received a significant amount of reps on the right side. Qvale was in the running for the job last offseason, although the coaching staff didn’t have enough faith in him. This summer, the Nebraska graduate has made huge strides and the Jets said they’re comfortable using him as a starter if need be.
Giacomini has yet to touch the field, making this is a golden opportunity for Qvale to really close the gap.
Obviously Ijalana must play well too, but he isn’t necessarily the guy Gang Green is looking to start. The team wants Qvale to win the job and they’ll put him in the best spot possible to get it done. Washington will test him with Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and others. Tonight won’t be a cakewalk for the Cornhusker by any means.
Next: 1. A quarterback with something to prove
1. Bryce Petty
It’s hard to believe it but Bryce Petty’s job could be on the line based on how he does in preseason football. Bowles recently came out and said Geno Smith is currently the No. 2 quarterback. Thus putting the 2015 fourth-rounder on the outside looking in. Fitzpatrick is going nowhere and neither is Christian Hackenberg, so Petty’s days in the ‘Big Apple’ could be strangely numbered.
In last week’s action, he completed seven of 14 passes for 93 yards. He had a solid outing leading a unit with no weapons, except he failed to find the end-zone like Smith did in the second quarter. Fortunately, Petty is going to get a crack at an underrated Redskins’ defense that should have many offenses on their heels this upcoming season. If he were to play well, it’d definitely turn quite a few heads.
There’s a slim chance New York keeps four quarterbacks, but Petty shouldn’t count on it.
A regular-season roster is made up of 53 men and general manager Mike Maccagnan doesn’t want to waste three spots on guys who might end up riding the pine. A Petty trade is a strong possibility if Gang Green opts to keep Smith, so the Baylor Bear has to look sharp if he wants to stay in green and white.