What To Look For Against The Redskins
Every year season ticket holders complain about having to pay for preseason football games, but last week may have been the first week in years where the fans at home complained that the Jets game pre-empted the regular scheduled programming on CBS due to the horrible effort put forth by the Jets and the Panthers. The Jets will try to redeem themselves against the Redskins on Friday night, in the lone preseason game where there is significant playing time for key players as teams will treat the game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. Here are some of the stories to look for:
How does QB Mark Sanchez start the game
Sanchez opened week 1 with an interception and nearly did the same in week 2. For the Jets to realize their goal of having the best record in the NFL the team is going to need to start games strong and set the tone early. The type of starts from the QB are reminiscent of 2009 and not what the Jets want in 2010. The word from the coach is that Sanchez had a tremendous offseason and good camp, now its time to see it on the field.
How does the team use RB Shonn Greene
Thus far Greene only has 11 carries for 36 yards in the preseason and there are some rumblings that LaDainian Tomlinson has put himself into a position to be used just as much as Greene. Greene had more carries than Tomlinson last week and should get a chance to shoulder more of the load this week as well, but this will likely be the week where we get to see what the actual plan is for the RB rotation.
Do Santonio Holmes and Laveranues Coles get a chance with the first unit
In a somewhat surprising move, Holmes has yet to play at all with the first team unit. While it is understandable that the team wants the guys who will be active in week 1 to get the offensive reps, one would think it is also important for Sanchez and Holmes to see some game time together before the regular season starts. Coles was expected to be the replacement for Holmes during his suspension but currently looks to be behind Brad Smith on the depth chart. It's possible they decided to hold Coles out until the second stringers enter the game, in an attempt to make QB Kellen Clemens look better, but that idea seems a little far fetched. If Coles is relegated to the bench this week he may not even make the team come September.
Can the offensive line bounce back
Both the first and second unit looked bad against the Panthers. The starters gave up two sacks and the backups had the quarterbacks under pressure all game. None of the runners seemed to have much of a running lane and in general they just looked lethargic. With Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson now under long term deals the Jets have a mini fortune invested in their offensive line and they can not play like they did last week and justify that expense. If the offensive line falters so will the Jets offense in 2010.
Who pulls ahead in the competition for 3rd string running back?
Joe McKnight has been so bad that its no longer a certainty to call him a lock to make the roster. He just does not look like he can play and this past week fumbling problems added to his woes. Danny Woodhead does not have the talent McKnight has but right now looks like a more competent player that could factor into the passing game. Chauncey Washington is a longshot but put forth a decent effort against the Panthers before a fumble ruined his night. The winner may be the person who pulls ahead in the special teams battle. McKnight redeemed himself somewhat with a great punt return which maybe can be his new role for the season. Woodhead recovered a fumble and Washington caused a fumble. All eyes will be on these guys for their special teams play as much as their running ability.
Does Vernon Gholston build on his strong performance
Gholston answered the call last week and had his best ever game as a pro. He was active on the field and was credited with five tackles, two of which occurred behind the line of scrimmage. With the injury to Ropati Pitoitua the Jets have become even thinner at DE. They can use Gholston to prove that he can fill a role this season.
Can Jason Taylor create any pass rush?
The Jets brought in Jason Taylor to not just create pressure but to make life easier on Calvin Pace and others on the team. Not only has it not happened in the two preseason games, but there has been almost no mention of anything he has done during camp. You can live with a veteran kind of going through the motions during camp, but in a full dress rehearsal game with some actual gameplanning it sure would be nice to see Taylor stand out this week.
Will CB's Antonio Cromartie or Kyle Wilson pick off the football?
While it would have been nice to see the Jets match up against Donovan McNabb they will instead see the terrible Rex Grossman which should mean a lot of turnover opportunities. The Jets want playmakers in the secondary and Cromartie has dropped a few gimmies while Wilson has not really been in a position to pick off anything. That should change this Friday.
What bubble players stand out?
Watching Hard Knocks every week it is pretty clear that the Jets did a lousy job in their undrafted rookie and futures contract signings for the most part. The depth is horrible and Rex Ryan was so upset during the Panthers game that he basically benched all his third string players to avoid being embarrassed in a preseason game. Some of these guys are going to have to at least make the Practice Squad and this will be the last game for certain players to even have a chance with roster cutdowns looming.
I'll be back with a game review Friday night.
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