The New York Jets open the preseason tomorrow night against the Detroit Lions. The game will begin at 7:30pm EST and will be broadcast locally on CBS, unless you have Time Warner Cable. Here are five things I'm looking forward to seeing:
1. Mark Sanchez vs. Geno Smith
This is the obvious one, so let's get it out of the way. How does Sanchez handle the rush from Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, and Ezekiel Ansah, among others? The Lions have some premier rushers, so we should quickly see if Sanchez has developed in this area, which he traditionally struggles with. How does Smith handle NFL-sized hits? Over training camp, his biggest issue has not been his footwork, but rather holding onto the ball too long. Now that he's actually going to get hit, let's see if he gets the ball out quicker.
2. DeMario Davis
Davis has been hyped up by many, but now it's time to see if he's actually capable of making an impact. He had a quiet 2012, and failed to make much of an impact, even with a decrepit Bart Scott in front of him. I wouldn't be surprised to see him matched against Reggie Bush on a few occasions, so let's see how he handles it.
3. Quinton Coples
I'm going to specifically be watching Coples a lot. I want to see how he's developing at the OLB position, in addition to his former defensive line duties. Can he drop into coverage if needed? We probably won't see that all too much, but it will be interesting to see him pass rush from the outside in space.
4. How will the offensive line hold up?
Going against Ezekiel Ansah, Nick Fairley, and of course, Ndamukong Suh, it's going to be important to see how quickly the offensive line can gel. Can Willie Colon and Stephen Peterman prove they were worthwhile signings? Can Brian Winters stake a claim to start? Can Oday Aboushi prove his ability to play the left tackle position? And most importantly, can Vlad Ducasse do something, anything?
5. Ryan Spadola vs. Braylon Edwards
In my mind, there are certain players who are essentially locked into the wide receiver position. Santonio Holmes (if he's healthy), Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, Clyde Gates, and Ben Obamanu. Obamanu hasn't shown much at receiver, but he's an excellent special teamer, and players like him are the foundation of the tail end of the roster. Edwards hasn't shown much in camp, and my distaste for him has been made pretty clear. Spadola, on the other hand, has had an excellent training camp. Now that the pads are on, I want to compare the vet receiver to the upstart rookie. The winner of this battle should, in my opinion, round out the top five receivers on the team.
Bonus: Has the run defense gotten any better?
Last season, the Jets struggled to stop the run. Now, they meet Reggie Bush again. Bush was effective for the Miami Dolphins last season, until he met LaRon Landry. Landry injured Bush and he wasn't the same after that. As I've said, the Jets' biggest struggle will be against the run. Have they gotten any better? Can they stop a dynamic player in Bush?
What will you be looking for?
Edit: I merged two versions of this and screwed up #4. It should be good now.