It's been two years since the NY Jets have played a preseason game. And in an offseason that has seen many changes for the green and white. One could argue that as a result, this year's preseason for the New York Jets holds more significance and importance than in years past.
After all, the NY Jets have an entirely new coaching staff. They are breaking in a new offense, defense, and a rookie quarterback. On top of that, the Jets have one of the youngest rosters in all of football, and the team figures to have several first and second-year players as significant contributors this coming season.
The preseason is often overlooked and forgotten when the regular season starts, but some of the Jets' greatest players in the past have memorably emerged because of preseason games. The likes of Brandon Moore, Wayne Chrebet, Victor Green, and many others over the years emerged as stars because of the opportunities afforded to them by playing preseason games.
In recent times, undrafted players for the Jets like Robby Anderson and Javelin Guidry have emerged after standing out during exhibition games in the summer. The new-look Jets could produce a couple more surprise players after this preseason concludes.
Ultimately, the wins and losses during the preseason may not matter, but what happens during the games can, especially for the younger inexperienced Jets players. On Thursday, Robert Saleh told the media that the team has 30 players who have never played a preseason game.
Saleh sees these games as important for their development. The Jets coaches are looking to get their green roster as many in-game reps as possible. The performance of these players in these preseason games will help the Jets' new staff make tough roster evaluations and decisions for the coming 2021 season.
There are several areas of focus for the Jets during this preseason. Like who will start at right tackle between the incumbent George Fant or free-agent pickup Morgan Moses. Or who will emerge at tight end or as the team's starting cornerbacks? Even the Jets' kick return duties are up for grabs. But for now, let's take a look at five specific things to watch for in Saturday's preseason game with the Giants.
NY Jets Zach Wilson
All eyes will be on Rookie QB Zach Wilson, as he technically makes his first start as an NFL player. Wilson is expected to play about a quarter in Saturday's contest. It will be his first game action in Mike LaFleur's offense. Wilson needs to get his feet wet in the offensive scheme.
Most NFL teams with an established veteran quarterback like the Rams with Matthew Stafford or even the Giants with Daniel Jones can afford to sit their starting quarterback for the entire preseason. Because their quarterbacks are either well established or have plenty of experience in their offensive systems. But the Jets do not have that luxury. In many respects, the entire team is starting from ground zero, much like their first-round quarterback.
Zach Wilson needs the preseason to develop chemistry and timing within the offense and with his new teammates. The Jets staff has to get him ready for when the bullets start flying in the regular season. And the only way to do that is for Wilson to get real reps during games.
As evidenced by some of the hysteria and scrutiny involved in the evaluation of Zach Wilson's performance in practices this summer. Too much will be made of how Wilson fares at MetLife on Saturday night. The best part of the experience for the rookie will be getting game reps. But how he performs during these games will be important for building confidence for the season. The preseason is a necessary evil for Wilson and the first baby step in the early days of his career.