Aug 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) stiff arms New York Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (41) after making a catch during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets will look to bounce back from their preseason Week 2 loss with a win over the New York Giants for the Snoopy trophy. These top three players must shine to ensure victory.
Tonight, the New York Jets will take on their big brother New York Giants in the annual ‘Snoopy Bowl’ third preseason outing. Last year, Gang Green took care of Big Blue in the dress rehearsal 28-18. In the Week 13 meeting that actually counted, the Jets came away with a 23-20 overtime victory. Head coach Todd Bowles‘ group fell short of the postseason, but the win over the Giants was simply monumental. Especially because of what happened on Christmas Eve in 2011.
It’s pretty clear that the Jets have a lot of work to do in this contest. Before quarterback Bryce Petty entered the game against the Washington Redskins, the offense struggled mightily to the point where it was cringe-worthy. Dropped passes, bad throws, fumbles, you name it. The defense was poor as well largely due in part to penalties and a weak pass rush. Even though it’s a tune-up, the team cannot afford to come out flat like that again.
Big Blue, on the other hand, could somehow be playing even sloppier.
They got manhandled in West New York 21-0 as quarterback Tyrod Taylor and company made a mockery of their secondary. Now obviously this is nothing to get down about if you’re a Giants fan, however, the defense does look suspect. It was ranked last in the NFL in 2015, so giving up 21 points in the second quarter has to be a tad bit concerning. Nonetheless, it’s the preseason and the unit has two more weeks to rebound.
The Jets had a number of guys slip up last week in Washington and dig themselves into a miniature hole. Whether it’s their roster or depth chart spot in jeopardy, they’ll need to turn heads against the Giants. In the second to last exhibition game, you barely see any significant players touch the field, which could make tonight their last true shot at impressing the coaching staff. Without further ado, here are three players who must shine for Gang Green.
Next: 3. A cornerback with everything to prove
Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Rashad Ross (19) scores a touchdown as New York Jets cornerback Marcus Williams (20) defends during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
3. Cornerback Marcus Williams
Playing opposite of cornerback Darrelle Revis isn’t easy and Marcus Williams is learning that at first hand. The youngster has had himself a rough beginning to the 2016 campaign, to say the least. He was underrated in 2015 registering 27 tackles, six interceptions, 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble as the team’s dime corner. Although he’s showing none of that at the moment.
Williams was picked on in both games and cornerback Buster Skrine actually bailed him out on several missed tackles. Washington’s receivers are ridiculously fast, so as a cornerback you have to be ready for the crisp routes and the quick passes. The Giants have a speedy set of wideouts as well and since Revis will be on Odell Beckham Jr. One should expect Williams to predominately be covering Sterling Shepard.
Cornerback Juston Burris can use some reps as can the struggling Dee Milliner, however, Williams needs the most work. There’s a great chance he starts as the No. 2 cornerback and he’ll need as many snaps as possible in order to break himself in. Quarterbacks simply don’t throw on Revis and the undrafted free agent will have to get used to being the guy who’s thrown on.
Next: 2. A safety trying to make a name for himself
Nov 1, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) tries to elude New York Jets strong safety Dion Bailey (34) after making a catch in the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Jets 34-20. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
2. Safety Dion Bailey
Safety Dion Bailey is a name we haven’t heard much about this offseason mainly because of the buzz involving the cornerbacks. The ex-Seahawk was a mid-season addition for Gang Green in 2015 and he came up big when the other safeties were banged up. He only finished with 22 tackles and 0.5 sacks, but for a rotational guy who latched on halfway through the year, those numbers aren’t too shabby.
The issue for him in 2016 will be closing the gap between himself and rookie Doug Middleton. The newbie has been tremendous since joining the team as an undrafted free agent in May and his effort in the preseason without a doubt tells the truth. In the first tune-up, he had six tackles and an interception on Jacksonville’s last drive to lock up a 17-13 win.
Middleton is breathing down his neck, although the opportunities will be there for Bailey to ball out against the Giants. You’d have to assume that Calvin Pryor, Marcus Gilchrist, and Rontez Miles should all crack the final 53 when September hits. Thus making it a true two-man battle for the fourth spot. The loser will most likely get cut because New York won’t bother keeping five safeties. Let’s see if Bailey shows up tonight.
Next: 1. A quarterback ready to prove his worth
Aug 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) drops back to pass during the second half of the preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium. The Jets won, 17-23. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
1. Quarterback Geno Smith
The quarterback competition between quarterback Geno Smith and Bryce Petty is essentially a seesaw going back and forth. In the game against the Jaguars, Smith was the one who showed out. In the contest against the Redskins, Petty had a field day. According to the trend, we’re accustomed to, the West Virginia product is due for a solid outing.
He has racked up 5,836 yards and 27 touchdowns over the course of his career, but as we’ve seen and said numerous times, the turnovers are an enormous problem. In just three years in the league, Smith has a combined 42 turnovers (35 interceptions and seven fumbles). When you consider the fact that he barely played in 2015, he averages over 20 turnovers per season.
Big Blue has given the 2013 second-rounder a hard time in the two ‘Snoopy Bowls’ he’s played in, so it’ll be intriguing to see if he can get into some sort of rhythm. The Giants’ defense is by no means intimidating and Smith should have a feasible enough supporting cast on offense to move the ball. Can he come through and show the staff he deserves the backup job?