W2W4: Jets vs. Jaguars
August, 16, 2013
By Rich Cimini | ESPN.com
The New York Jets (0-1) face the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at MetLife Stadium -- the first game of the season in the stadium that will host the last game, Super Bowl XLVIII. The main storylines:
1. Quarterback battle, part deux: Mark Sanchez starts for the second straight week and Geno Smith ... well, his sprained ankle might keep him out. The Jets haven't revealed their plans for Smith, who has fallen behind Sanchez in the competition. If Smith doesn't play, could he lose the battle without even getting a legit chance to win it? They will re-evaluate the situation after the game.
A Sanchez implosion probably would make Rex Ryan extend the competition another week. There's a chance Ryan might do that anyway, regardless of how Sanchez performs. The organization wants to evaluate a healthy Smith before making a decision, and the only way to do that would be to shut him down until Monday -- a four-day break -- and see how he rebounds in practice from his "brutal" showing Wednesday.
The downside to extending it is not having the first-team offense finalized for the all-important third preseason game. Would Ryan want to mess with that for the sake of giving a good look to a rookie who probably isn't ready anyway to be the Week 1 starter? There are so many questions and time is running out.
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesJets quarterback Mark Sanchez might get a visitor's reception during Saturday's home game.
2. A Bronx cheer in Jersey: This will be Sanchez's first home game since last Dec. 2. That day, he threw three interceptions and was benched against the Cardinals -- one of the low points of his career. It came only a week after the infamous Butt Fumble. Suffice it to say, he won't be embraced warmly Saturday night. Even though the stadium will be half-empty, it'll provide a scaled-down version of what it will be like Sept. 8, when they open against the Bucs.
3. An-Chris-ipation: Barring a last-minute change, RB Chris Ivory is likely to make his Jets debut. It has been a difficult summer for Ivory, who missed two weeks with a pulled hamstring. But he looked fine this week in practice and should get a few carries unless they decide to play it ultra-safe and keep him out.
Basically, Ivory is Shonn Greene with a little more wiggle, a huge part of the master plan on offense. After rushing only 16 times for 37 yards last week, the Jets should put an added emphasis on running the ball. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg tends to fall in love with the passing game, but this team isn't built for 40 throws a game.
4. J.J. versus A.A.: The battle at safety continues. This time, Jaiquawn Jarrett gets the start. The former Eagles second-round pick impressed so much last week that teammates were hooting and hollering from the sideline whenever he made a tackle. Ryan says Antonio Allen still has a chance, but let's be real: It's Jarrett's job to win. Either way, it's not as though we're looking at the second coming of Ed Reed. This is the only starting job legitimately up in the air on offense and defense.
5. Braylon & Co.: There's a lot of competition for the fourth and fifth receiver spots, not counting the injured Santonio Holmes. After Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and Clyde Gates, it's between Braylon Edwards, Ben Obomanu and rookie Ryan Spadola.
Spadola, undrafted out of Lehigh, is making this interesting. He probably will have a role on special teams this week, and it's imperative that he excel there to help his chances. Edwards got off to a slow start, but came on this week in practice. His old Cleveland buddy, TE Kellen Winslow, needs another strong showing to secure a roster spot.
6. Just for kicks: There's still some uncertainty with the kicking and punting situations. P Robert Malone (back) missed two days of practice, opening the door a crack for Ryan Quigley. PK Nick Folk is having a solid camp, but he's not as long on kickoffs as Billy Cundiff. The Jets reportedly might have interest in veteran free agent Dan Carpenter. Advice to Folk: Don't miss.