With a little over 24 hours remaining until the Jets’ Monday night showdown in Baltimore, I’m here to get you up to speed for the prime-time affair with some key points to watch for in Gang Green’s second preseason tilt.
How will Mark Sanchez fare against Baltimore’s stingy defense?
The rookie will get the start with the first team offense against one of the premier defensive units in the game, and if you think this is happening purely because of a “rotation,” you’re kidding yourself. Head coach Rex Ryan and his staff want to see how the rookie will handle himself against a furious pass rush like the Ravens’, because they want to see if his progression will allow him to start for the Jets in week one.
“Nothing specific,” Ryan said of what he expects from Sanchez. “I think just go out and play quarterback. Do your thing. And by the way, that other team over there is pretty good on defense. They’re going to be looking to hunt. They’re going to get after him just like we’ll be looking to get after their quarterback. It’s going to be fun. It’ll be good to watch. It’s going to be closer to regular season tempo than any preseason game. I know the way the Ravens play. They’re going to give us everything they (have) and we’re going to give them everything we (have). Did we game-plan them? No, there hasn’t been a single thing game-planning wise. I bet you they have.”
I know the way John (Harbaugh) is. I know the way Cam (Cameron) is. I guarantee they’ve game-planned us, but that doesn’t matter because it’s more about you putting 11 against 11. Let’s see what happens. This is an attitude game. It’s going to be great because Baltimore is physical as a football team. Baltimore, Pittsburgh and the Giants probably (are as physical) as any team in the league. That’s what we want to be,” Ryan said.
Ryan’s not looking for anything specific, unless Sanchez is planning on starting for this team from week one. He wants to see if he can handle one of the most physical defenses in the NFL, and whether or not he can avoid the turnovers the Ravens’ defensive unit is known for creating. This is such a great test for both Gang Green quarterbacks, in fact, that both signal callers will play in the first half against the starters and Ryan said in his press conference yesterday that a decision on the starting quarterback spot could be made after Monday’s action.
“Every day is that way,” Sanchez said of the preseason competition. “Every drill, every rep. If you put too much pressure on yourself and make this the game where you have to do everything and do it all right, then you are just going to drive yourself crazy. My main goal is, one, have great tempo coming out of the huddle. No delay of game penalties, no negative plays, especially on first-and-10. Be smart with the football, don’t turn it over. Whatever it takes, throw the ball away, take a sack, just don’t give it to the defense, because they’re good. The other thing, just be a leader. Be accurate, make positive plays. Eliminate negative plays and see what happens. It can’t be an all-or-nothing deal or it’s not going to work out right.,” he said.
All eyes will be on the rookie, which means fourth-year pro Kellen Clemens must have a solid night to remain in the running for the starting gig.
Who will separate themselves in the battle for the number two receiver slot?
Each of the players in the running for the job had solid nights in the team’s first preseason game against the Rams, so going against Baltimore’s defense will be a good test for the receivers as well.
“That one is a little easier,” Ryan said of the competition. “You get to evaluate. You throw guys in. They can play throughout the game. How can you not be impressed with what David Clowney did (against St. Louis)? And topping that off, the year before (he) led the NFL in receiving yards in the preseason. Then, he breaks his collarbone and he doesn’t get to play. This guy is coming off not just one great game but he’s coming off a preseason last year as well. That’s exciting. I think (Chansi) Stuckey has had an outstanding camp. And then (there’s) Brad Smith. We all know the kind of athlete he is, but those two catches he made the other day (during practice) when we’ve got to have it and he worked himself open using his big body to grab two touchdowns on the last play of our simulated games, that’s big time. That’s him. If you look at the talent and match him up talent-wise with other guys, he should be a big-time receiver. It should be sitting right in front of us. We’ve got some guys with unique skill sets, that should be great competition. Wallace (Wright) is tough as heck. I don’t think we’re near as bad as people think we are. I feel good about our guys and the first preseason game showed that,” he explained.
Each receiver has done plenty during camp to show why the deserve the role, so how they fare in the second preseason affair could be huge as training camp winds down.
How do the players returning from injury look, and how much can they play?
Center Nick Mangold is likely to play Monday night, which is a good sign for the offensive line. Cornerback Darrelle Revis has participated in practices, but still isn’t going full speed. His participation in the game is unlikely, and the same goes for Jets guard Alan Faneca. The Jets have been marred by injuries in the beginning part of camp, so it will be interesting to see who can go, and for how long, as they take another step towards week one.