We’re back to football!
Although it’s only a preseason game, the Jets will play a new game every week from here on out, until (week 17) December 28th. That’s of course, excluding their bye during week 11.
The Jets will host the Colts tonight at 7:00 pm ET, live on CBS. Here are a some things to focus on during tonight’s preseason matchup…
1. Geno Smith and Michael Vick:
- Let’s state the obvious first. The spotlight will be on Geno Smith tonight, as he makes his first (unofficial) start to his sophomore season. Yeah, it’s only preseason, so statistics will not count.
- But it’s still an important step for Smith, as he attempts to build off his strong ending to the 2013 regular season. Quite
frankly, as long as he avoids a pick-six on the first offensive snap of the preseason — Jets fans can breathe. In all seriousness, Smith needs to have decent first quarter, being that’s likely the most he’ll play tonight. In order to do so, he needs to protect the football and lead the Jets offense to at least one score — which Rex Ryan is hoping for. The Jets offense really struggled in the team’s annual Green and White scrimmage, so showing up against a somewhat average Colts defensive unit is a must. If Smith can lead the Jets to a touchdown before Vick takes over in the second quarter, it will limit the possibility of a quarterback controversy. Vick will also get a lot of attention tonight. Ryan said that Vick will likely get at least one series with the starters. It’ll be difficult for anyone to not compare the two –Smith and Vick — and how they perform with the first team offense.
2. New additions:
- New Jets players like Chris Johnson and Eric Decker, whom the team acquired in free agency, will likely garner the most attention tonight. But other additions like Breno Giacomini, Jason Babin, and Dimitri Patterson deserve some attention, as well.
- Keep an eye on Babin, as his role with the team is likely to increase with the season-ending injury to pass-rusher Jermaine Cunningham. Let’s not forget about Antwan Barnes, who is recovering from an injury himself. Barnes will not play in tonight’s game, but he’s another factor as to why Babin will see more playing time. It’ll be interesting to see how many snaps Babin will get, and how he performs under a new defensive coordinator in Dennis Thurman’s.
- Johnson and Decker are likely to get limited snaps, but let’s see how they each impact the offense during their brief debut as a New York Jet.
- Giacomini is another name to watch. With Austin Howard jetting to Oakland, it’s important for the Jets offensive line to look as if they didn’t miss a beat. If we end up focusing on the offensive line, that’ll likely mean that the unit is struggling to run and pass block.
- Patterson will be the main focus for a lot of Jets fans, being that the team signed him rather than retaining cornerback Antonio Cromartie — who is now an Arizona Cardinal.
3. The front seven:
- The Jets front seven has earned a lot of respect around the league, and rightfully so. With Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Demario Davis leading the pack, the Jets should be fun to watch. Even if it’s a preseason matchup, where the unit is likely to see limited action, it’s important for the group to get off to a fast start to the 2014 season. I expect this unit to pick up where they left off, shutting down the run game and creating long distance situations for the Colts offense.
4. Youth in the back-end
- First round pick Calvin Pryor will not suit up for tonight’s game. This means that Antonio Allen and Dawan Landry will both get the start. Besides Landry and Patterson, this is a young group. If this unit can have a solid performance tonight, it will ease the concern of a lot of Jet fans, who are particularly nervous about the Jets cornerback tandem in Patterson and second-year cornerback Dee Milliner. Because of his importance to the team, linebacker Demario Davis began calling Milliner the “franchise”.