MetLife Stadium’s co-tenants are set to kickoff soon, and while the annual preseason matchup is no longer dubbed the “Snoopy Bowl,” the New York Jets’ franchise continues to be the Charlie Brown to the New York Giants’ Lucy.
This game doesn’t have any other meaning than for it being the “dress rehearsal” matchup and a way for Gang Green to see how they measure up against a legitimate Super Bowl contender – at least for three quarters, that is.
There are plenty of storylines for this matchup, and Salute Magazine is here to break down the most critical ones.
#1 Woe is the O… The Giants’ long-time nemesis in their quest to add another Lombardi Trophy has been their own inability to put together a dominant offensive line. General manager Jerry Reese has built a Super Bowl contender, yet the Giants are enduring yet another preseason where the offensive line is a huge question mark.
Never mind the fact that the defense is top flight and the offense is littered with stars like quarterback Eli Manning, and wideouts Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall, the offense will sputter at times if the line doesn’t get fixed. Tonight is a great test, as both team’s starters will go into the third quarter – although Beckham (ankle) and Marshall (shoulder) are unlikely to play. But for the rest of the healthy starters, they’ll get to test its wares against a legitimate pass rush.
The early returns have not been good over the first two preseason games. The run game has been non-existent, the pass protection has been spotty, and Big Blue is the only team in the National Football League to yet to score a touchdown this preseason.
The Jets’ front seven is as talented as any in the league, particularly the defensive line. How well the maligned offensive line holds up – especially beleaguered left tackle Ereck Flowers – will go a long way into easing the minds of Manning, and the Big Blue fanbase.
#2 Does it even matter if Josh McCown gets reps or not? … The veteran journeyman essentially won the Jets’ starting quarterback gig by default, largely in part his two biggest threats are either too green (Christian Hackenberg) or wasn’t even really in the race to begin with (Bryce Petty). McCown has basically worked on his tan more than getting actual first-team reps in practice, this week, while the kids took over those duties. But by all accounts, head coach Todd Bowles has already made up his mind in who the Opening Day starter will be, so his coy remarks that he doesn’t know and will officially make the announcement on Monday isn’t fooling anyone.
#3 Speaking of quarterback issues… The Giants still have one in knowing who can be Manning’s primary backup. Once upon a time, it was thought to be a shoo-in that Geno Smith would be the guy. But the former Jets starter has not wowed in camp. His percentages are nice, but it’s still his decision making – particularly in the red zone – and his penchant for turnovers that has kept this race closer than expected. Smith has thrown a pick in each of the two preseason games. Veteran journeyman Josh Johnson, who is working for his ninth NFL team, hasn’t done anything to really impress head coach Ben McAdoo either. McAdoo has noted that Johnson will be the first man off the bench in relief of Manning. And there there’s rookie Davis Webb, who was thought to initially not have a shot at being the No. 1 backup, but could play his way into the race if he has a good showing – provided McAdoo even plays him.