As the Jets are getting ready for their second pre-season game, there are quite a few aspects of the game that fans should be paying attention to. Fifth year starter, Mark Sanchez, got the go-ahead to start the game for his coach, which means the pressure will be on. The Jaguars are by no means a legitimate contender this season, but their defense is no push over. As for the Jets defense, they will have some talented players test them. Justin Blackmon, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Marcedes Lewis are just a few.
1. Defensive Line……… SHOULD DOMINATE
The key word is SHOULD. Rex Ryan is counting on his defensive line to be the bedrock to his defense. They played well at times last week, but it was nothing to brag about. Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis, and the rookie, Sheldon Richardson all have the size and athleticism to completely over-match Jacksonville’s O-line. The Jag’s offensive line is below average and that’s putting it mildly; their best lineman is the number two overall pick, Luke Joeckel. The Wilkerson-Joeckel match-up is going to be something to pay attention to. If the D-line struggles today, then we will know a lot more about them, and Rex may want to re-think his plan of attack. Having said all this, expect them to have an aggressive and successful game, which should include a few sacks.
2. Ivory. Ivory. Ivory. Has anyone seen Chris Ivory?
Many Jets fans are asking “Who’s Chris Ivory?” Well, everyone, he has been participating in team drills for the past 3 days, and it looks as if he will see some playing time tonight. Ivory, who has a career 5.1 average yards per rush, is a powerhouse running back that fits right into his coach’s mentality. Gang Green will be relying heavily on him this season, especially with Joe McKnight unable to play, due to his head injuries. Bilial Powell has shown he cannot be a starting back, even though his coaches have praised him throughout training camp. Keep an eye on Ivory cuts and reads in this game, to see if his injury is still affecting him. It will also be interesting to see how much the Jets use him, if at all. He doesn’t have that much experience with the offense and is still picking it up.
3. Your Starting QB for Tonight’s Game…… Mark Sanchez!
Let’s see how the crowd reacts to hearing that. Tonight will be Sanchez’s first game at home since last season. Fans clearly do not want him as their starter anymore, but will he hear all boos as he walks onto the field or will he actually hear cheers? Only time will tell.
4. Let’s See What You Got, Receiving Core
As we saw from the last game, Marty Mornhinweg likes to throw the ball around. Now, let’s see if the Jets receiving core can move to the next tier and give their quarterbacks open looks. Stephen Hill, Clyde Gates, and Jeremy Kerley have all shown improvement over the offseason, but its time transfer that to the regular season. Tight-ends, Kellen Winslow Jr. and Jeff Cumberland, look like they could be a great defensive threat and a safety blanket for whoever will be starting. Neither one is a great blocker, but these two can run, jump, and catch. Another receiver to keep an eye on is Ben Obomanu, who led the Jets in receiving last week. He has shown he has talent, now let’s see if he can make the team and pressure Braylon Edwards for playing time.
5. Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith. Impress me.
Sanchez gets the start, but it is almost out of default. Geno Smith’s ankle injury may keep him out of the game and possibly out of the starting job all together. Sanchez looked great his last two series and in last week’s game against the Lions, but his first two, are exactly what drives everyone crazy, (except the other team). The fifth year starter, will be booed if he starts off slow and there will be chants for Geno and maybe even McElroy. Jacksonville’s secondary is terrible and their pass rush isn’t much better; however, they do play a solid zone defense. All the Jets quarterbacks should be able to make some throws against this defense; they just need to watch out for the linebackers backing out into coverage. If Sanchez has an average to good game, all signs point to him winning the starting job. The only chance Smith has of winning this job is if Sanchez just completely falls apart and has a multi-interception game. If Geno does play today and plays like RG3 did last season, then there is still a chance for him to start next week. Keep an eye on how Sanchez moves in the pocket and pay attention if he moves too early. He did that last week and admitted that he has to trust his lineman more, as they showed they could do their job.