I'm not a big fan of preseason evaluations because people tend to focus on results. Results aren't necessarily meaningful, though. The opponent generally hasn't gameplanned to exploit your weaknesses. The level of competition also varies. Unfortunately, what little we do learn from preseason games is generally negative. Tearing it up against preseason competition doesn't necessarily mean regular season success is imminent, but not being able to execute against less than stellar competition can be a warning sign.
With that in mind, here are five things to watch that could have some sort of significance.
1. What kind of pass rushing moves will Sheldon Richardson display? We discussed the other day how Richardson needed to improve his technique when getting after the quarterback. Will we see anything new in this area?
2. What kind of footwork will Geno Smith have? One of Geno's big problems last year was his mechanics falling apart, footwork in particular. It seemed to get better at the end of the year, but the pass protection also played its best ball at the end of the year, creating more favorable conditions. Can he do a better job keeping his composure under the rush than he did as a rookie?
3. Will Dee Milliner play with physicality? Reports from Cortland have been mixed when it comes to Milliner's play. One of the distressing parts of Milliner's rookie year was how little he seemed to enjoy playing physical ball. He shied away from physical play too frequently, which was interesting considering press coverage was his strength when he was drafted. Will Dee start challenging receivers more?
4. What will Stephen Hill's route running look like? Hill is reportedly having a nice camp, but it is unclear what that means. He is an athletic guy, but watching him run routes as I have rewatched footage has made my eyes hurt. Can Hill start running crisper routes? Can he identify coverages better. Can he actually start asserting his size and strength by initiating physical play? Can he deal with the defender getting physical with him. I lost track of the number of times a corner got physical and put him on the ground last season. Everybody talks about Hill as a deep threat, but he should be a force with his size on short and intermediate stuff. His failure through his first two years has had a lot to do with the things I mentioned above. Before I buy into this nice camp he's having, I want to see these things.
5. How will Oday Aboushi look?
Aboushi had an ugly first preseason. It was kind of a surprise he didn't get banished to the practice squad. That wasn't unexpected. Taking a fifth round interior lineman means no impact as a rookie. He is reportedly impressing people this year. Thursday will be our first look.