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New York Jets Preseason Week 3 Preview: The Snoopy Bowl

New York Jets v New York Giants

We made it to Week 3 of the preseason and what a glorious day it is! Everyone knows Week 3 is the most significant game of the preseason because it’s traditionally used by coaches as a dress rehearsal for the regular season, with most starters on both sides of the ball playing into the 3rd quarter. Luckily for us, we’ve been blessed with an even more exciting Week 3 tradition, The Snoopy Bowl.

The haters and losers will say we’re not calling it that anymore because MetLife has moved on from using Snoopy as part of their logo and image. But if you think that’s gonna stop me from calling this game The Snoopy Bowl, you’re in for a rude awakening. I’ve already done it 3 times in this blog and we’re just getting started.

Pitting Jets and Giants fans against each other every preseason is a beautiful thing; it’s basically our dress rehearsal for talking shit all regular season as well. Tonight should be one of the most highly anticipated and exciting Snoopy Bowls in recent memory, as both teams are coming off disappointing seasons and both have a top-5 pick from last year’s draft expected to make a significant impact immediately as rookies. Giants’ RB Saquon Barkley isn’t expected to play tonight as he’s still nursing a sore hamstring, but I’m here to write about the Jets and I don’t really care whether Barkley plays or not.

From a Jets perspective, there’s a lot we still need to learn about this roster before Coach Bowles and Mike Maccagnan can start significantly trimming it down, and tonight is the best opportunity to judge players in a “true” game situation we’ll get all summer.

Let’s dive in.

Here are my top storylines to follow tonight:

It’s Still The Sam Darnold Show, But The Rest Of The Starters Are Finally Almost Healthy

Buffalo Bills v New York Jets

I can sit here and come up with storyline after storyline about what we should be looking for tonight. But we all know nothing else comes close to Sam Darnold and continuing to monitor his progress.

Simply put, Darnold has a shot to lock down the QB1 spot tonight with another poised and impressive performance. His progress and early success this summer has been well documented. That being said, the opportunity in front of him tonight is completely different for a few reasons. He’s gonna play through the 1st half with the starting offense, and although he was also the starting QB last week, he gets to go out there tonight with the closest thing to our true 1st team we’ve seen yet.

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One of the biggest issues we’ve seen so far this preseason has been the performance of our battered offensive line. We’ve yet to see Kelvin Beachum and Brian Winters in game action, but there’s a chance we finally get to see both of them in front of the young QB tonight, which should do wonders for the team as a whole and give us an even better glance into just how ready Darnold is to start in the NFL.

Beyond that, Quincy Enunwa is expected to play, Terrelle Pryor is a little less likely but by all reports is feeling better and better each day, and we should also get our first glimpse of both Chris Herndon and Jordan Leggett in a true game situation (more on all of them in a little bit). Only Todd Bowles and Jeremy Bates know how the playing time is gonna be divvied up. But at the very least it’ll be nice to see how Darnold looks finally getting to throw the ball around with most of our top offensive weapons at his disposal.

Who’s In And Who’s Out At WR?

Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse are locked in atop the depth chart and I’m certainly excited to watch them both with Darnold tonight, but we also should get a look at a healthy Quincy Enunwa for the first time in a while. If Enunwa is back to full health he adds such a unique dimension to the passing game, so I’m eager to see what he looks like tonight if he suits up, which by all reports he’s expected to do.

Terrelle Pryor is still a question mark as to whether he’ll go tonight since we’re still being incredibly cautious monitoring his bad ankle. If he gets on the field for some snaps in the 1st half, he’s another guy who should only enable Darnold to look even better.

After those 4 guys, things are starting to come together as to what the depth chart at WR should look like when the summer wraps up. Tre McBride gets another shot to prove he’s worthy of a roster spot, while potentially pushing someone like Ardarius Stewart or Chad Hansen off the roster altogether.

New York Jets v New England Patriots

I think Charone Peake is safe because of his impressive performance last week and his significant role on all of our special teams units, and he can put even more pressure on the front office with another notable showing vs the Giants tonight. Charles Johnson has been solid as well, but I don’t think he’s done enough to push any of the younger guys with higher upside out of the picture.

Chris Herndon And Jordan Leggett Are Both Finally Back As Well

I’ve been waiting all preseason to see these two out on the field in game situations, and it sounds like we’re finally gonna get what we want tonight. Don’t get me wrong, Neal Sterling and Clive Walford have both been thoroughly impressive this preseason, making the competition at TE a lot more complicated than it appeared to be when OTAs and training camp began, but Herndon and Leggett are undoubtedly the 2 guys Todd Bowles and Jeremy Bates are hoping will step up and prove they’re ready to contribute offensively when the regular season starts.

If either or both of them can contribute tonight and flash the ball skills and athleticism they were drafted for in consecutive years, the starting TE spot is theirs to lose. I’ve fallen in love with Herndon’s potential this summer because I think his combination of size, speed, and athleticism after the catch add a dimension to the offense that no one else can. However everything I’ve heard about how Jordan Leggett’s looked since he was cleared to return to practice makes me think he can be a useful weapon as well.

We should get a great look at how talented and ready both of the young TEs are tonight.

We’re Still Probably Fucked At Kicker

I got into this in more detail the other day, so I’ll keep it short here for the sake of not repeating myself. Taylor Bertolet is expected to handle kicking duties tonight, so he needs to prove he can handle that job with the level of consistency expected of a starting kicker in the NFL. If he shits the bed tonight, former Jaguars and Seahawks kicker Jason Myers is waiting in tow to get a shot at the job as well. It’s very reasonable to think our starting kicker Week 1 vs. Detroit is currently not on our roster, so tonight should at the very least give us some clarity as to whether we need to truly panic just yet.

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New Jack City And The Starting Defense Is Ready To Rock

Buffalo Bills v New York Jets

Jamal Adams has looked elite anytime he’s stepped on the field this summer. Trumaine Johnson and Mo Claiborne have a chance to anchor one of the deepest CB units we’ve had since the days of Darrelle Revis before he stopped caring about playing well. Leonard Williams is still really fucking good. Avery Williamson is pretty much Demario Davis with a different name. Nathan Shepherd has grabbed the other starting DE position by the balls and ran with it. Darron Lee still has a ton of potential to become the uber athletic LB we drafted him to be. Marcus Maye is still a little banged up but that’s fine, he’s a ballhawk when healthy and should be back soon. Doug Middleton has filled in nicely and been one of the more impressive “unknown” guys throughout the summer.

We’re gonna get all those dudes on the field at the same time for the longest stretch of the preseason tonight, so no fucking shit I’m excited. Pardon my french.

Yeah, We Have A Lot Of Talent On Defense, But Who’s Gonna Sack The QB?

Now that I got out all the positive things I’m excited about in regards to the starting defense, I’m ready to address our one glaring weakness. We still don’t have an answer as to who will bring pressure off the edge in passing situations this year, and based on the multiple trade rumors that emerged this week (Dante Fowler Jr and Khalil Mack), the Jets front office doesn’t appear convinced the answer is currently on our roster.

Jordan Jenkins had a sack last week but it was also what one would call a “coverage sack”, as he didn’t truly beat his man and get to the QB before he could get the ball out in rhythm, so I’m far from convinced he can improve his sack numbers this year. Another good showing from him tonight would mean a lot for the defense moving forward, so keep an eye on that. The same goes for Josh Martin, currently projected to start opposite Jenkins at OLB.

Beyond those two, we should continue to keep an eye on guys like Frankie Luvu, Dylan Donahue, and even Brandon Copeland. Luvu flashed a glimpse of the athleticism he showed during his career at Washington State last week vs. the Redskins, so another impressive performance would be a major step towards him not only locking down a roster spot, but putting him in the mix at OLB in pass rush situations during the regular season.

Frankly, I don’t give a fuck who it is. One of these guys needs to emerge quickly as a real threat off the edge, or the Jets will continue to look elsewhere around the league to fill the void. Mike Maccagnan has shown time and time again he’s not afraid to pull the trigger on deals when the opportunity arises, and the lack of a true pass rusher is currently our biggest hole on the entire roster.

Prediction

If you haven’t figured it out at this point, I’ll put it in writing right now. I’m not picking against the Jets in a preseason game. I’m not a fucking asshole. I haven’t decided if I’m gonna make picks/score predictions in the regular season just yet, but you can bet your ass I’m expecting us to assert our dominance against a weak and diminished Giants squad tonight.

Both teams starting units should be on the field well into the 3rd quarter, and then after that we still get to put Teddy Bridgewater out there as he continues to prove he’s officially back and increase our potential return when he’s inevitably dealt.

For that reason, combined with my faith in our young and hungry 1st defense and the ever improving Sam “Possibly Big Dick” Darnold, I think the (hypothetical) 2018 Snoopy Bowl trophy comes home with the Jets tonight.

23-17 Jets

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