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6 Things to Look For at Jets-Colts Opener

Posted Aug 5, 2014

QBs Will Battle On, Defense Will Get After It, Landrys Will Reunite Thursday Night

We're two days away from the start of our first game of the preseason, and that means there are at least six things to look for when the Jets host the Indianapolis Colts Thursday night at MetLife Stadium.

1. Quarterbacks Battle On

Geno Smith will be the starter, with Michael Vick coming in probably in the second quarter. The two had very similar numbers, each around 50% passing and one field goal on four drives, in the Saturday night Green & White practice.

OC Marty Mornhinweg's general charge to his offense: "We've got to play at a high level, but we have to do it on a consistent basis, and then continue to improve every day."

Mornhinweg knows both Vick, the NFL's all-time leading rushing QB, and Smith, who tied for QB rushing TDs last year with six, can run. But he'd surely like to see them both pull up here and there, locate a singled receiver downfield, and let the guy in green win a jumpball or two.


2. Other Offensive Talking Points

WR Stephen Hill has looked new and improved, with a determined visage behind his facemask every time he catches a ball and strides for YAC. Is this Hill's breakout year? Here's his first big chance to demonstrate that it is.

RB Chris Ivory has looked better catching passes out of the backfield this summer after last season's two receptions in 15 games. If that's the case, it's one more arrow in Marty's quiver.

Will rookie Jace Amaro and the TEs show up? Amaro's had an up-and-down camp, and Jeff Cumberland's 10-yard reception was the only one of the 17 receptions at the Green & White that went to a tight end.

Chris Johnson, Eric Decker, Breno Giacomini, several other veterans and the Jets' rookie class (minus perhaps first pick S Calvin Pryor because he's missed so much time working through the NFL concussion protocol) are in line to make their Jets game debuts.

3. Minister of Defense

DE Muhammad Wilkerson was asked this week if he liked where the defense was this camp.

"We've got a lot more to do as far as getting in shape and also communicating better," Mo said. "We have to make sure each and every player's got to be on the same page so we can  get the ball back to the offense and they can make plays and put points on the board."

The first D looked ready to roll vs. the run Saturday, holding RBs to nine carries for 19 yards (although Vick scrambled for 20). But of the seven sacks that night, only one, on a safety blitz, came in the ones vs. ones series. The pass rush spotlight will swing, ever so briefly in this first game, onto Quinton Coples, Calvin Pace, Wilkerson and Jason Babin, among others, as they pursue Andrew Luck & Co.


4. Those Landry Brothers

It's time for a Landry reunion. Dawan and LaRon have started against each other in four games, pre- and regular season, as pros, with each winning two.

And if you don't think this game matters to the family, read this story in the Washington Post from five years ago. As dad Frank Landry said then, "They just love going after each other. Always have."

A few cautions for this Landry tiebreaker bout: They're both safeties so there'll be no head-to-head matchups. And starters are likely only to play about a quarter.

Then there is this: While Dawan appeared to bulk up this offseason and has looked sharp on the back end this camp, LaRon just started practicing with the Colts for the first time this summer after starting out with a soft-tissue issue. No word yet on if or how long he'll be able to go Thursday.


5. Under the Dome

The only previous preseason meeting between these teams was in the second week of the 2004 season under the old RCA Dome. The Jets rolled, 31-7, as Chad Pennington completed 10 of his 11 passes for 169 yards and a TD and rookie free agent Ian Smart, from Jamaica, NY, and C.W. Post, scored twice in the fourth quarter, including on a 59-yard punt return.

Which old veterans and newcomers, local or otherwise, will stand out in this game? That's one of the great anticipations of getting the preseason schedule started.


6. Wins and Losses

As we mentioned, the Jets are 1-0 in previous preseason meetings against the Colts. They're 27-40 all-time against the Horseshoes, 17-26 after 1984 when they relocated from Baltimore to Indianapolis, 3-1 in postseason meetings.

All of these records, of course, mean nothing.

What could mean something is Rex Ryan's record in preseason openers. He's 0-5 in the first games of summer as Jets head coach. After that opener is in the books, he's 9-6 in all the rest of his preseason games as head coach.

But Rex on Monday gave his latest state-of-the-Jets mindset: "Of course, we want to win. Period." That applies to the playoffs and to the regular season. And to Thursday night's preseason opener.





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