John Fennelly, Lead Writer
With roster cuts on the horizon and the Giants needing to show some continuity on offense early, tonight’s game vs the Jets is the most important of the preseason. Forget the so-called “rivalry”, the real contests will be for jobs and peace of mind.
Some key things to watch for….
Offense: Run the ball on the Jets’ first-team DL. In the first two preseason games, the Giants fared well on the ground. They need to establish the run to open up the passing game i.e. play-action et al. The short-passing game has to tighten up. Eli is not adept at swings, screens and slants, which is something that has to change if new OC Ben McAdoo’s offense is going to work. We know the long pass is there, but we’d like to see Victor Cruz and/or Rueben Randle catch one tonight. The TEs are still a huge question mark. Hopefully someone emerges vs the Jets’ first team defense and makes a play or two. The shuffling on the offensive line is a constant exercise, but look for rookie Weston Richburg to play a lot of snaps tonight.
Defense: The pass rush looks slow and late to the party. They have to get to Geno Smith tonight. At least pressure him. With Mike Patterson back, the Giants can slow the Jets on the ground. The back seven has played well, so I don’t expect the Jets to have a lot of success in the passing game. The LBs have suddenly become fun to watch. Jacquian Williams is on the verge of an epic season. Rookie Devon Kennard continues to impress forcing Spencer Paysinger to step up his game. He’s responded. The secondary will likely be without Prince Amukamara tonight, so the pressure will be on Walter Thurmond and DRC to blanket the Jet receivers on the outside.
Special Teams: PK Josh Brown has not given challenger Brandon McManus a lot of wiggle room this summer. Both have been excellent. One has to go, though….the returners appear to be set. Quintin Demps will be the primary kickoff guy and unless Trindon Holliday (hamstring) can burst on the scene with a eye-opening performance (or two), Preston Parker will continue to return punts. The returner positions in general are amorphous, but knowing Tom Coughlin, he’s going to go with what works best at the moment.
Other things…..WRs Corey Washington and Marcus Harris can make the team with strong outings if they haven’t already…TE Adrien Robinson will try to build off his solid fourth quarter from last week….QB Ryan Nassib needs a confident, staid, productive showing tonight for the Giants to consider carrying just two QBs…with Cooper Taylor likely gone for the year, the club is looking for a fourth safety behind Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown and Quntin Demps. Keep your eye on rookies Nat Behre, CJ Barnett and Thomas Gordon tonight.