Fans craving live football that could generate some on-the-field headlines will be happy: there is football to be played!
Thursday, the New York Jets will kickoff preseason action at Ford Field when they take on the Detroit Lions. The game will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted locally on CBS.
The Jets had enough story lines to keep the tabloids happy this offseason. They fired head coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik and replaced them with Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan. That regime brought back corners Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis, traded for wide receiver Brandon Marshall and re-signed linebacker David Harris among other moves.
One move that has recently become very significant was trading a conditional seventh round pick to Houston for well-traveled quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick will now be the week one starter, not just for the preseason, but the regular season, after Geno Smith broke his jaw in a locker room altercation with linebacker IK Enemkpali. Smith is expected to miss 6-10 weeks and Enemkpali was cut immediately after the altercation. True to form, now Bills coach Rex Ryan claimed Enemkpali off waivers.
We haven’t even played the first preseason game yet.
For the time being, this is Fitzpatrick’s team. He’s going to have to establish chemistry with the likes of Marshall and Decker. Although Bowles hasn’t commented publicly on his plans, I would be surprised to see Fitzpatrick play for more than a series. The Jets simply cannot afford an injury to him with rookie Bryce Petty is next on the depth chart. Petty has some nice tools but is raw to the mental speed of the NFL.
When it comes to the game itself, there are some interesting position battles to keep an eye on heading into week one.
Offensively, keep an eye on right guard rotations and the breakdown of playing time between running backs and wide receivers. On the offensive line, Brian Winters, Willie Colon, Oday Aboushi, Brent Qvale and Dakota Dozier all realistically could still be battling for the right guard position.
Rounding out the roster on offense will be something to keep an eye on too. Will the Jets carry four running backs? A fullback? How many wide receivers? Any of the guys vying for a final roster spot, like running back Zac Stacy or wide receivers Quincy Enunwa and Shaq Evans, could use a nice start to the preseason.
Defensively, Jets defensive backs will get a nice test with a Lions offense that will want to spread the field and throw the ball around the yard no matter who is behind center or out wide. Could this be the Greg Salas revenge game? The former Jet wide out might be on the outside looking in on the Lions roster.
Bowles will be making his debut as Jets head coach, but I wouldn’t consider the preseason a good chance to showcase his ultimate skills. Bowles is known as a defensive mind that specializes in exotic blitz packages. The preseason is not a time, generally, that teams will do a lot of blitzing. It’ll likely be a very vanilla showing for Bowles.
What the Jets could benefit most from Bowles is showing some toughness and discipline, two traits that have generally been lacking the past few years. Yes, it’s been a whirlwind of a 72 hours, but the Jets need to put that aside and have a strong showing in Detroit. There needs to be a sense of urgency from the entire roster; it’s time to show the Jets are on their way to a new culture.
At the very least, it’s nice that we can have something on the field to talk about for a change. Here is our NY Jets game thread if you want to talk to other Jets fans during the game.