The battle for bragging rights of the New Meadowlands Stadium begins as the sun sets over the New York skyline Monday night. The Giants, who have ruled the town with a caste-iron grasp over the years, will be squaring off against the Jets, a fresh, brash team looking to back up the trash-talk that has dominated the off-season. Normally, a game of such magnitude (albeit a preseason game) is reserved for the third game of the preseason, where the starters see the most field time. However due to being roommates in the new stadium, they will open the New Meadowlands against each other.
Much has been said about how the boisterous Jets were going to “take over New York” which historically has been a Giants town. While the Giants enjoyed hoisting two Lombardi trophies during the late eighties and early ninties, and an improbable victory over the New England Patriots, the Jets were left to the gutter forced to watch another team in their city enjoy the glory they’ve always wanted. But with a run to the AFC Championship last season and a head coach who continues to win over his team everyday, the Jets have the confidence to say, “Why not us?” This 2010 New York Jets team will not allow themselves to carry out the self-fulfilling prophecy that the Jets are a doomed team.
And it all starts with their first preseason game against the in-town bullies in Big Blue.
Head coach Rex Ryan has already said that his starters will play the entire first quarter of the first two preseason games. Yesterday, Ryan grew frustrated with his offense’s lack of focus. “I wasn’t real happy with the way our offense was picking up the blitzes and different things like that,” he said after Saturday’s practice.
The Jets offense will have to worry about the pressure from the corners with DE Osi Umenyiora suiting up alongside Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, and first-round selection Jason Pierre-Paul. However Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he will only play his starters for roughly 15 to 18 plays.
This will be the first time the public will get to see a Jets team, that on paper, looks to be a fantasy football team. It will interesting to see how the team’s chemistry is as the first snap is taken and adversity hits them in the mouth. New additions like Jason Taylor, who is being brought along slowly with Ryan’s complex defensive schemes and terminology, will have to worry about x’s and o’s at game speed. “I think in 13 years I’ve never opened up my playbook in my dorm room or hotel room or at home after work,” said Taylor. “Here, I open the playbook up every time I get a chance — in the locker room before practice, in the dorm room. It’s pretty complex.” He’ll get his chanceto prove something as the Giants’ starting line will not be in full attendance (OG Chris Snee-out, Rich Seubert-questionable).
For LaDanian Tomlinson, this will be a chance to prove to the football world that he hasn’t lost a step. In fact, this could be the game where we see an old dog show off his new trick. As reported by JI reporter, Dan Troisi, Tomlinson was seen taking snaps out of the Jet’s version of the wildcat offense, the “Tiger Cat”. The Tiger Cat, which was run almost exclusively by the versatile WR/KR/QB/ Brad Smith, was a fairly predictable system because Smith would almost always run out of it. However this training camp Smith has been throwing the ball a lot more out of it and with the possibility of LT getting some touches out of it adds another level of unpredictability. For the record, LT’s career passing numbers are 8-12, 143 yards, 7 TDs, 0 INTs.What better way to show up your in-town rival than to do it with some flare?
Antonio Cromartie, who came in to this season with less pressure not being the number one cornerback, is now the number one cornerback. Thanks to the Revis hold-out, Cromartie will be assigned to the offense’s best wideout. He has had a pretty good training camp thus far, wowing the crowds with some amazing plays and his gazelle-like strides, but has beaten on some relatively easy plays as well. If the Revis hold-out continues, he is going to have to show some consistency. On Monday he will line up against the lengthy second-year wideout Hakeem Nicks, a modest test to see how well Cromartie has adjusted.
But as much as this is a game between the New York Jets and the New York Giants, at this stage in the season, it’s really about the Jets against the Jets. There are still plenty of positions that have yet to be filled due to some friendly competition.
LEFT GUARD: Matt Slauson vs. Vladimir Ducasse
In the heavyweight division, many thought of the 6-5, 315 pound Slauson as a short-term placeholder for the incumbent rookie. However he has the early edge over Ducasse and Ryan saying “could he be the long-term solution at guard? I believe he could.” Ducasse is a second-round pick from FCS UMASS who has a lot of raw talent. Despite that raw ability, the Jets are thinking that he will have to do some amazing things to take the job away from Slauson.
FULLBACK: Tony Richardson vs. John Conner
The thought of these two brutes fighting over one position has me thinking of a UFC pay-per-view because, quite frankly, these guys bring the pain. Richardson, a 16-year-veteran was brought in to be the starter but has recently been pushed to the extreme by the rookie who has been aptly nicknamed “The Terminator”. Rex Ryan has been on the record about how much he loves their fifth-round selection from Kentucky for the way he’s been cracking skulls at camp. While, for now, the job maybe Richardson’s by a slight edge, Conner is the future. It’s just a matter of how soon the future will come.
CORNERBACK: Dwight Lowery vs. Kyle Wilson
Everyone is well aware of the Darrelle Revis situation and the glaring hole he left. Newly acquired CB Antonio Cromartie will be playing the left side for the first time in his career, filling in for the absent Revis. First-round pick Kyle Wilson has really wowed the Jets organization while practicing with the first-team offense throughout training camp. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King has reported that Wilson has been named the right-side starter, but Lowery has been solid at worst. All it will take is for a few deep balls to fly over the rookies’ head for Lowery to step in to the starter’s role.
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