East Rutherford, N.J. - The New York Jets head into Week 3 of the preseason taking on fellow New York team Giants. This game is key for some players fighting for a roster spot. It's make or break for some guys on the bubble, on both sides of the field.
Not only are players fighting for a roster spot, they are battling for top dog in New York. The two teams met last year in December of the regular season, with Gang Green coming out on top in overtime 23-20. The Jets hope for the same result this year.
WHEN: Saturday, August 27, 2016 7:30 p.m. EST
WHERE: MetLife Stadium East Rutherford, NJ
KEYS TO THE GAME
1) The Back-Up Quarterback Battle
Heading into training camp, it was clear: Geno Smith was the No. 1, Bryce Petty was the No. 2, and newly drafted Christian Hackenberg was the No. 3. Then Ryan Fitzpatrick signed, and everyone got bumped back a spot. So far through training camp, head coach Todd Bowles has been clear cut on who the starter is: Fitzpatrick. He has also been clear about who the backups are in order: Smith, Petty, and Hackenberg. However, Petty is giving reasons during the first two preseason games on why he should move to the backup role. He's thrown for 335 yards, completed over 55% of his passes, and has a 2-0 TD-INT ratio. Smith has thrown for 126 yards and a 1-1 TD-INT ratio. Petty has a 101.6 QB rating while Smith has a dismal 61.7 QB rating. Hackenberg has yet to see any action this preseason. This game could be the test on whether Smith can continue to have leverage over Petty.
2) Wide Receiver Battle
It's clear that Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are the top two targets once the regular season starts. Throughout training camp, Quincy Enunwa has emerged as the third target behind Marshall and Decker. Behind them, the door is wide open. Kenbrell Thompkins was predicted as the fourth receiver, but he hasn't done anything to prove so in the preseason. Charone Peake, Robby Anderson, Jalin Marshall, and Jeremy Ross. Peake broke out in game one, while Anderson emerged as a big target in game two. Both Jalin and Ross have done well at the receiver position, but also have shown versatility on special teams.
3) Cornerback Battle
Seems to be a lot of position battling, but there seems to be a lot of starting spots up for grabs. Darrelle Revis has his spot cemented, but the second corner spot is up for grabs. Both Marcus Williams and Buster Skrine played big parts in the defense last season and continue to this training camp. Coming up close behind them is the re-emergence of Dee Milliner. After having a somewhat successful rookie season, Milliner's season ended in 2014 and 2015 due to injuries. Also fighting for spots behind the four are rookie Juston Burris and Kevin Short. Going up against tough Giants wide receivers can be the test this young cornerback core needed.
4) Breakout Rookies
It was covered earlier that Peake, Anderson, and Jalin have been showcasing themselves to the coaching staff. One rookie having a tremendous preseason is Darron Lee. In two games, he has six tackles and one sack. Lee has proven he can run with the first team during training camp and the preseason games. Doug Middleton also has six tackles and one game-clinching interception. Lachlan Edwards has had an average of 45.2 punt yards and four punts within the 20-yard line. These rookies can play big parts in the Jets success this season.
X-FACTOR: Dee Milliner
As I mentioned before, Milliner hasn't had the ideal career. After being seen as the potential future on the outside for the Jets in his rookie year, he had his sophomore season cut short with an Achilles tendon tear. Last year, he had a wrist injury that kept him out for a good chunk of the year. Milliner has a lot of potential, and a lot to prove. He has shown good flashes throughout training camp. He has the size to cover the outside receiver, while also having the speed to be put in the nickel spot. Milliner is fighting to prove to everyone why he was a first-round draft pick in 2013.