The Jets will have a new look in many ways when they take the MetLife Stadium field Thursday night for the first time in 2019.
The team has new uniforms, a new coaching staff, a new general manager and many, many new players as they try to turn the franchise around after three dismal years. The next step comes in the preseason opener against the crosstown rival Giants.
Yes, it is only a preseason game in early August. But it is one step closer to real football.
For Jets fans, this will be their first glimpse of new coach Adam Gase’s offense and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ defense … as much as they will show during this game. Quarterback Sam Darnold and the starters should play a series or two. Running back Le’Veon Bell will go through warm-ups but will not play in the game, according to a source.
“It’ll be fun to watch our guys be able to go fully at somebody else,” Gase said. “You want to go against somebody else, different defense, different looks, different bodies. I think it’s fun for us as coaches for us to watch, especially when you have guys in their first couple of games, and they get a ton of playing time, and just seeing how they develop, seeing who reacts well under the lights.”
The preseason has come under fire in recent years and some have pushed to play a reduced preseason schedule or do away with the games altogether. Gase said he still sees value in the preseason, though.
“I like the fact that it gives a chance to evaluate,” Gase said. “That fourth preseason game, all those guys that get to play, we get value out of that. We don’t, we’re not trying to see if we can shorten the game up. We’ll probably try to throw it like 60 times.”
The alternating preseason series between the Jets and the Giants (the game formerly known as the Snoopy Bowl) is usually played in the third week of the preseason but was moved to Week 1 this year because the teams meet in the regular season on Nov. 10. Neither side wants to show much in the way of strategy, so expect plenty of vanilla looks.
The Jets fans who show up for this one (a Giants home game) surely want to see Darnold and Jamal Adams and the rest of the top players. For the Jets coaches, though, this is more about players fighting for roster spots.
There are two positions in particular to watch and see if someone can emerge — wide receiver and cornerback. The competition for the backup roles at those two spots has been fierce in training camp.
The Jets know Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa and Jamison Crowder are their top three wide receivers and Josh Bellamy should make the team because of his special teams ability, but there are open spots after that. Tim White, Charone Peake and Deontay Burnett are among those fighting for roster spots.
The Jets are extremely thin at cornerback and GM Joe Douglas is expected to keep bringing others in to compete. Derrick Jones, Kyron Brown and Parry Nickerson are all fighting for spots on the team. Gase was asked what he needs to see from that group.
“It’s really, for me, it’s executing what’s called,” Gase said. “Whatever Gregg decides to go with, whether it’s, ‘Hey, we’re going to zone coverage,’ or ‘We’re going to play man coverage, we’re going to pressure.’ We’ve had to discuss a little bit of what we’re looking to do, whatever he calls, is executing what he calls first, but then how much are we around the ball? How many times are we touching the ball? How are we tackling? Are we getting involved? Are we having ball production which is, hey, you’re either tackling, you’re intercepting, you’re breaking up a pass, getting around the football and being productive — that capacity.”