Television Note: This game will be televised locally in the New York/New Jersey area on WNBC at 8PM on Friday. It will also be televised nationally on the NFL Channel at 8AM on Sunday. Because I will only be able to see the game on the latter channel, my game review will be a bit later than usual.
Approach to the Game – New York Jets at New York Giants, August 26, 2005: The third preseason game is the most serious as teams usually play their starters into the 3rd quarter. The last preseason game is usually used to make final roster decisions and give some folks some work.
The New York/New Jersey media is going to make a big deal out this game, but it most likely has lost some of its edge because of the absence of QB Eli Manning, DE Michael Strahan (who most likely won’t play), and CB Will Peterson. Those are three big-time starters missing right there.
With Manning out, the Jets should win this game. After all, they almost made it to the AFC Championship Game last year and are a well-rounded team. My focus will be on the following:
Giants on Defense: OK, I’m officially starting to get a bit worried about the defensive tackle position. I realized this as I’ve found myself thinking more and more about defensive tackles in the draft next year. With Fred Robbins likely to start against the Jets, it is interesting that we are now back where many of us thought we would be when camp started: Robbins and William Joseph starting with Kendrick Clancy factoring seriously in the picture. Clancy may end up starting still. We’ll see. This is a big game for Robbins who has gone from first-team defensive tackle to third-team and is now back up to first-team. Joseph needs to play more like he did against the Browns. This is another good test for him because the Jets, like the Panthers, are a physical running team.
What I’m disappointed at is the play of the other tackles. Kenderick Allen (calf) is hurt again and hasn’t really done much on the field. Damane Duckett saw some time with the first unit in camp but was demoted back to second-string. I’ve seen virtually nothing out of him. It looks like Davern Williams is out the door. I expected one of these three to make some noise and they haven’t yet.
At end, I like Strahan and Osi Umenyiora as the starters. It will be real interesting to see what type of year Strahan has as we know he’s up there in age and on the downside. Since he is unlikely to play this week and probably won’t play much next week, he’s going to be thrown in there on opening day. His stamina is going to be tested to the limit as he really has only played a few series this preseason. Justin Tuck seems to be improving more quickly than I expected, but we’ll see where he is this week. He will have to play a lot and may get worn down. It really sucks that Eric Moore missed virtually all of camp. I don’t like the other ends.
At linebacker, the Reggie Torbor at strongside/Carlos Emmons at weakside experiment continues. Nick Greisen played a good game last week. I wonder if Barrett Green will play? Those two provide pretty good depth (assuming Green is ready by the opener). I’ve seen nothing from Kevin Lewis, James Maxwell, and T.J. Hollowell (who probably won’t play). I’d like to see more of Chase Blackburn and Joe Scott.
In the secondary, this will be a great test for Curtis Deloatch at right corner. Corey Webster will probably see some time with the starters too. He needs to dramatically improve his run defense and not play so far off of receivers. Will we see more of Frank Walker? Shaun Williams and Brent Alexander have been virtually invisible this preseason. The Giants need to upgrade at safety next year.
Giants on Offense: The focal point for me will be pass protection, as that obviously was an issue last week against the Panthers. I also want to see the Giants be physical up front with respect to the running game against a physical defense. We know who the starters will be and pretty much know who the back-ups are who will make the team. My only question is does Brandon Winey make it? In my mind, the locks (besides the starters) are Rich Seubert, Bob Whitfield, Jason Whittle, and Wayne Lucier.
One thing that concerns me a little bit is that Tiki Barber really hasn’t touched the ball much at all this preseason. I’d like him to get used to some live action (and protecting the football) before the real bullets start to fly. With Brandon Jacobs a lock, the battle between Derrick Ward and Mike Cloud continues. Can the Giants keep both? My focus with respect to Jacobs will be on his blitz pick-ups.
At the receiver position, we know Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer, David Tyree, Tim Carter, Jamaar Taylor, and Willie Ponder are locks. Ponder is a lock because he is the Giants’ kick returner. No one else has been tried there this preseason so that tells us all we have to know. The Giants will likely have to carry a seventh receiver just to return punts (Michael Jennings or Mark Jones).
At tight end, Jeremy Shockey is the starter, Visanthe Shiancoe the second tight end. Is the third tight end currently on the roster?
Finally, the backup quarterback situation. This is a huge game for Hasselbeck. He can firmly nail down the primary backup spot behind Manning. Just as importantly for him, given the fact that he will be a free agent next offseason, he is show-casing himself for the rest of the league. Hasselbeck has limitations. It will be interesting to see how he manages them. The third quarterback is probably not on the roster.
Special Teams: The only big question for me here is who is the punt returner. Mark Jones is still hurt. That’s unfortunate for him because it couldn’t come at a worse time. If Jennings holds onto the football and puts together a good return or two, he may steal a roster spot.