Oh, the MetLife Bowl. The single biggest game of the preseason. This game causes the New York Giants and the New York Jets to reignite their mutual dislike toward each other. Both team views the other as being the, ‘little brother.’ Players aren’t the only ones that trade barbs either. Jets head Coach Rex Ryan has been quoted by slamming the Giants on more than one occasion, the most recent example was last week.
After Giants’ running back Andre Williams said he believes the Jets are the little brother, Ryan responded by saying, “the last time I saw him (Williams) he was getting smoked by Clemson.” Last time these two teams met in the preseason the game went into the dreaded preseason overtime. And if you need another reason to watch this game outside of rivalry, potential overtime and mutual dislike, the winner gets the famed MetLife Trophy, which has a bust of Snoopy on it. Without any further ado, here are some things New York Giants fans should keep an eye on during tonight’s game.
If the offensie line is even somewhat stable, this offense will live and die by Eli Manning’s play. We all know how terrible Eli was last year, but he’s described the new offense as, ‘re-energizing,’ him. Despite Manning’s claim, he hasn’t been very impressive this preseason. He’s only completed seven out of his 16 passes, and he’s looked out of rhythm. The third preseason game is typically a dress rehearsal for teams, so Manning should get more opportunities to improve.
After three straight weeks of game winning touchdowns, the rookie out of Newberry has worked his way into some first team reps. This is great news for an offense that lacks a lethal red zone threat, but we’ll have to see how Washington does against a legitimate NFL defense. Washington has reportedly done well against the ones in practice, but game speed and practice speed are completely different things. The Jets defense isn’t nearly as dangerous as it once was, no longer boasting names like Revis and Cromartie. However, this will prove to be Washington’s greatest test yet. If he can perform well against a stingy Jets defense, there shouldn’t be a question as to whether or not he makes the team.
The Offensive Line
The offensive line that seems to be perpetually rotating starting combinations will have a daunting task against Gang Green. Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson are one of the most formidable defensive end duos in the entire NFL. It will be interesting to see just how well the Giants can fend off the pass rush. Last year this group looked more like swiss cheese than an NFL starting offensive line. Even if the Giants lose, this will give the new offensive line some much needed experience. The Giants start the regular season against the Detroit Lions’ Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh, then they play the Arizona Cardinals’ Calais Campbell, and then in week three they play against the Houston Texans’ feared pass rushers Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt. If the Giants can survive the Jets, they’ll be as battle tested as ever.
The Tight End Group
Although Larry Donnell was listed as the official starter going into the preseason, I would venture to say this position is still really up for grabs. So far, no tight end has really entrenched themselves as the true starter. Adrien Robinson, Kellen Davis and Donnell have all looked ‘ok’, but the Giants are likely looking for better than ‘ok’. Donnell will roll with the ones, so he’ll likely see a decent amount of opportunities. Davis and Robinson will have to try and shine later in the game. Davis looked good last week, but he still needs to elevate his play to starting tight end quality. For Robinson, I believe it’s now or never. If he can’t perform in games, he is in serious danger of being cut.
The Defensive Line
Against the Pittsburgh Steelers Jason Pierre-Paul looked like his old self, but last week he looked like the JPP of 2012-2013. The Jets have a very good offensive line, and the Giants defensive line needs to revert back to its dominant self. Damontre Moore has had a good preseason thus far, as he’s recorded two sacks in three games, but tonight he faces an elite left tackle named D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Ferguson is as good as they come, but if Moore wants a big spot in the rotation, he needs to compete against the best. I’m really interested to see if the Giants can perform against a strong offensive line. With this game being the dress rehearsal, it will be their best opportunity.