FOOTBALL IS BACK! Although it is just the preseason, you have to admit there is an excitement in the air. The QBL Staff has rounded up all the facts you need to know about all 16 games this week. We will be here for you throughout the season to preview every game from start to finish.
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Jets at Giants
Kickoff: Thursday 8/8 at 7 pm (ET)
Location: MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey
Betting Odds: NYJ -1.5 via Oddsshark
Network: NFL Network for out-of-market area NBC for NY
New York Jets
The Return of Bell?
After a year away, Le’Veon Bell is back in the NFL. This game will be Bell’s first action since Pittsburgh’s loss to Jacksonville in the 2017 Playoffs. How is he going to look? How will Coach Adam Gase utilize his dual-threat abilities? Will we get any answers? Probably not, it’s the preseason. Reports are trickling out that Bell may not play. The hope for fantasy players is that we see some of Bell before Week 1 to give us some clarity to how he looks. Also, Ty Montgomery has been getting first-team reps and will have a role on offense. He has a similar skillset (though not on the same level) as Bell, so his work in preseason might give us a clue to how Gase will use Bell.
Sam Darnold, Year 2
Sam Darnold had a rocky start to his NFL career. He threw a pick-six with his first career pass attempt and the Jets did not have much going early on. Once Darnold returned from a foot injury late in the year, things began to click for the rookie. Darnold led the NFL in QBR the last month of the season and developed a nice rapport with Robby Anderson. Darnold admitted earlier in training camp that last year he was barely keeping his head above water trying to learn how to play in the NFL. Now, Darnold faces a different challenge in year two. He has a new head coach and some new pieces to work with on offense. He has to learn Adam Gase’s offense and learn his new teammates, mainly Bell and slot receiver Jamison Crowder. Watch for Darnold’s command of the offense and if he seems comfortable.
New Look Defense
The Jets spent a boatload of money the past two offseasons on their defense. Last year the Jets signed LB Avery Williamson and CB Trumaine Johnson to large contracts to bolster the defense. This year, the Jets went back to the well and signed C.J. Mosley to the largest LB contract in NFL history. The Jets then drafted Quinnen Williams to pair up with Leonard Williams on the defensive line. The middle of the field seems to be the Jets’ plan on defense. The Williams up front, Williamson and Mosely behind them, and young safety pair Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye on the backend. If Johnson can rediscover his game and another CB steps up, the Jets will have a solid unit.
New York Giants
Did you hear? The Giants drafted a quarterback this year. Daniel Jones already has more detractors than almost any other player in the NFL. He was booed by the fans at Yankee Stadium when he was shown on the jumbotron at a recent game. This is all before he has even played a snap in a preseason game. The Giants want the public to believe there is no starting QB competition, but reports are coming out that Jones has had some success throwing in camp. While Eli Manning has a year in the system and a history with the franchise, don’t be surprised for the calls for Jones to start from the fans begin if he plays well during the preseason while Manning struggles.
Depleted Wide Receiver Corps
There has only been one preseason game and the Giants are already down their three starting WRs. Sterling Shepherd, who just signed a new contract extension with the Giants, broke his thumb catching a pass from Manning during training camp. Shepherd says he expects to be ready for the start of the season but a hand injury can linger. His status is something to monitor for your upcoming drafts. Golden Tate, the WR the Giants brought in to help replace Odell Beckham Jr. (sigh), received a four-game suspension from the NFL for PEDs. Tate intends to appeal but I do not expect him to win his case. Corey Coleman, who was pegged to take the number three receiver role, tore his ACL in camp and is out for the year. Unless Shepherd is indeed back for the start of the year, the Giants will be relying on Cody Latimer, Benny Fowler, and 5th-round rookie Darius Slayton early in the season. Not great, Bob!
Janoris Jenkins, Antoine Bethea, and Michael Thomas (not that Michael Thomas) are the only three players in the secondary that are 30 or older. The Giants drafted three CBs in this past draft: Deandre Baker, Julian Love, and Corey Ballentine. Baker was a first-round draft choice and many considered the top cover corner in the past draft. He has been in the starting CB spot next to Jenkins in camp and has impressed. Love has rotated in the slot and at free safety. Ballentine, who was shot the day after being drafted, has fully recovered and started participating in training camp. The Giants also chose corner Sam Beal in the supplemental draft last year. Beal injured his shoulder and missed the season. He has been rotating in with the first-team defense in camp. Jabrill Peppers notoriously joined the Giants in a trade with Cleveland to replace the departed Landon Collins. As you can see, there are a lot of young moving parts to this secondary. Who claims a role in this preseason and how they perform will determine whether this defense will have any success.