Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg and Randy Lange will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: What do you want to see from the Jets in the preseason opener vs. the Giants?
EA: All eyes will be on Jets rookie QB Zach Wilson, but I'm fascinated to see the early results from the men who reside in the trenches. Without DT Quinnen Williams (and DEs Vinny Curry and Kyle Phillips), the Jets D-line has been excellent throughout camp. Carl Lawson has changed the dynamic as former Jets great Wayne Chrebet said this week, "We haven't had a guy here like that since [John] Abraham." High praise yet well-deserved for Lawson, but it goes beyond him. John Franklin-Myers has been strong and the explosive Bryce Huff is frequently getting into the backfield. The middle is stout with Folorusno Fatukasi, Sheldon Rankins and Nathan Shepherd all bringing something different. The Jets want to create chaos up front and they have the potential to do that in a couple of series against a Giants O-line that has been challenged by injuries this summer. Then flip it to the offensive side of the ball, this is the first time we'll see the Jets' wide-zone blocking scheme in game action. It's a downer that rookie Aljah Vera-Tucker (pec) won't be able to suit up, but Dan Feeney has been sturdy in his place. LT Mekhi Becton can line up against someone not named Lawson and there is an interesting competition going on at RT between Morgan Moses and George Fant. C Connor McGovern and Fant love this system and the Jets want to lean on teams with the run game. They've got a number of quality backs with different skill sets and I'm excited to see them pound the rock and set up that play-action game.
EG: I'd like to see decisiveness. For the offense, I'd like to see each of the quarterbacks look decisive in their play-calling and their reads, which will likely lead to successful drives. The QBs have seemed to be more comfortable in the system, particularly Zach Wilson and Mike White, the last handful of practices. As a team, the Jets are faster this season than last, so I'd like to see that translate Saturday night. Defensively, a lot of the young players have flashed including the three drafted rookie CBs. Brandin Echols and Michael Carter II have received some run with the ones, and Jason Pinnock has shown a knack for being around the ball with two interceptions so far in camp. What will happen when they line up against receivers they've never faced before and will they be able to keep the flags in the referees' pockets? I want to see the specialists in game action (and the special-teams unit as a whole). Kickers Chris Naggar and Matt Ammendola have had their share of makes and misses, but they haven't had game-like pressure before. For second-year P Braden Mann, how improved is he? And who are his gunners as Justin Hardee, a special-teams ace, is nursing a hip strain? Reserve players typically find a home on the roster because of their special-teams ability. Who will step up Saturday night? I'd also like to see a Jets win.
RL: What I'd like to see of the Jets vs. the Giants is two words. One of the words is progress. That means different things, though, for different positions. From QB Zach Wilson, I'd like to see progress in his accuracy under fire and finding his targets. RBs and WRs: Progress in coming up with some more chunk runs and receptions. TEs: Progress in consistency from Chris Herndon on down. DL: Progress in rushing the passer from Carl Lawson & Co. (In the process, treating the Giants QBs like the Jets used to treat Eli Manning in the summer. In 15 PS games Manning threw 3 TDs to 10 INTs, was sacked 12 times and had a 60.1 passer rating.) LB: Just seeing C.J. Mosley making progress back to his old self would be excellent. And DB: Progress toward identifying the starting CBs and seeing some shining examples of what DC Jeff Ulbrich means when he says of his corners: "It's starting to get interesting out there." In fact, "interesting" is my other password for the Jets. I'd like to see the entire team "get interesting" vs. the Giants, in the best sense of the word.