Jets vs Bengals: Five Things to Watch in Pre-Season Opener
Added by Justin O'Connell on August 10, 2012.
All eyes will be on Tim Tebow in the Jets first preseason game, tonight against the Bengals.
This will be the most anticipated preseason for the New York Jets since 2009, when Mark Sanchez made his rookie debut. There will be a variety of headlines for tonight’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but the biggest will be Tim Tebow and how the coaches will use him.There are also a lot of new acquisitions that will be hit or miss for the team and tonight will give both fans and coaches an idea of what to expect.
1) TIM TEBOW: TEBOWMANIA
And so it begins, the start of Jets preseason football and no one will get more attention than Tim Tebow. It is finally time that we get a look at Tebow in game action as a Jet. The backup QB/Wildcat QB/personal protector will have the spotlight on him as he will probably play the second and third quarter in a conventional offense. We may also see him in a few punt protection schemes. It is funny to think that TV ratings will probably be higher when the second team offense comes into the game, due to the fact that such a large faction of the country wants to see Tebow in action. The biggest Tebow question will be if new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano will use him in the “Wildcat.” It is very unlikely, since, as Sparano said, “It’ll be a vanilla game.”
2) Meet your new offensive
The Jets offense still has a lot of positions that are ready for the taking and tonight will allow players to step up and show Rex Ryan what they’ve got. There is a battle at the running back position for the second string and third down roles between Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell. Who will be the second string tight end? As of now, it is still a mystery. Jeff Cumberland, Josh Bakers, Dedrick Epps, and Hayden Smith are all in the mix.
Who will be the 2, 3, 4, and 5 wide receivers? Will Jeremy Kerley keep his 3rd string and slot role? Will Stephen will be the number two or will Chaz Schillin hang on and win the position?
Can RT Austin Howard, who has the size and run-blocking potential to fit Sparano’s scheme, push incumbent Wayne Hunter? There are a lot of moving parts, not an ideal situation when you’re installing a new system.
3) So many Safeties!!
The Jets safety position will have a very different look this season. Jim Leonhard is not on the team anymore, and it looks like Eric Smith might lose his starting job. The Jets drafted two talented young safeties, Antonio Allen and Josh Bush this off-season. They currently have Yeremiah Bell starting at Strong Safety and their biggest free agent, LaRon Landry, starting at Free Safety. Landry who is coming off of Achilles surgery has been more than impressive in camp and both his teammates and coaches already think he’s fantastic. Bell and Landry both struggle in coverage, but are exceptional at the line of scrimmage and behind the line as blitzers. Keep an eye on both rookie safeties as they both will see time as subs and in the nickel packages.
4) Defensive Line is back!
The Jets should now have a pretty good defensive line. We’ll have to see how rookie Quinton Coples and second year end, Muhammad Wilkerson, play together. Both are talented and should help with keeping double teams off each other. Couples has been up and down in camp, so it’s time to see if he can raise his level of play. Can Wilkerson take that next step to become an elite DE? Also keep an eye on DTs, Kendrick Ellis and Sione Pouha, and their run stuffing abilities; also watch if they can help their ends put pressure on the QB. The biggest question will be how much Ryan and defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine, use the 4-3 scheme due to their new completed d-line?
5) Blitz happy linebackers
The Jets linebackers were pathetic at getting pressure on the QB last season, but, the way things have gone in camp, it shouldn’t be a problem this year. With a rejuvenated Aaron Maybin, Bart Scott, Calvin Pace and exciting rookie, Demario Davis, the team should have no problem putting a great deal of pressure on the opposing QB. They have been putting pressure on Sanchez and Tebow in practice every day. It is now time for them to see how they can do in a game against the Bengals tonight. The question will be who will start at ROLB and LOLB? How much action will Davis see? Will he get first team rep? There are a lot of questions to be answered and tonight we can see some of them unfold.