The Giants and Jets will square off in either team’s first preseason game of the year this Saturday night at MetLife Stadium.
After a 2020 campaign in which we didn’t witness any exhibition matchups due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this meeting will be either team’s first preseason game since 2019.
Of course, the preseason now carries a different format; to coincide with the new 17-game regular season, the preseason will now be three games instead of four.
Giants head coach Joe Judge already said quarterback Daniel Jones will not play and that the team will treat Saturday’s game as the traditional fourth preseason game (aka rookies and roster bubble guys will see reps). The Jets, on the other hand, will be playing rookie quarterback Zach Wilson for two series, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini.
Obviously, the final outcome of the game won’t matter. But there are still reasons to tune in, listen, or attend the event if you’re a fan of either team.
Zach Wilson’s first NFL action
The first-year signal-caller, who the Jets drafted at No. 2 overall in April, will be experiencing his first NFL game action (preseason or regular season).
That, in and of itself, should be a huge reason to watch.
How will Wilson look against another team’s defense? Will he further build a rapport with his offensive weapons? Will he put his incredible upside on display or will he struggle?
As was previously mentioned, Zach isn’t expected to play a significant amount, but witnessing a rookie’s inaugural snaps is always memorable.
First look at the new Jets RB committee
The Jets don’t exactly employ a lead dog in the backfield.
Instead, they will seemingly move forward with a committee that includes La’Mical Perine, Tevin Coleman, rookie Michael Carter, and others.
Each individual employs his own respective skill set — fans will be able to get their first glance at how the committee may fare this Saturday night.
Jets defensive rookies
The Jets utilized their final six draft picks this past offseason on the defensive side of the ball, and some of these players may actually locate notable reps in 2021.
Will linebacker Hamsah Nasirildeen succeed against another team’s offense or start off slow this Saturday?
What about guys like defensive backs Brandin Echols, Michael Carter II, and Jason Pinnock? How much time will they truly receive and will they be able to capitalize on the opportunities?
Don’t be surprised if a guy like Carter II finds himself playing much of Saturday’s contest.
First glimpse of Kadarius Toney
That’s right — Giants first-round wide receiver Kadarius Toney will be partaking in his first-ever NFL preseason game.
While he won’t have his starting quarterback throwing him the ball, Toney will finally be able to display flashes of the speed, elusiveness, and athleticism he greatly portrayed while with the Florida Gators.
Maybe we’ll get to see offensive coordinator Jason Garrett be a tad bit creative with his new offensive weapon…
What to do with the Giants offensive line?
The Giants’ projected starting offensive line looks like this (from left to right): Andrew Thomas-Shane Lemieux-Nick Gates-Will Hernandez-Matt Peart.
I understand not wanting to play some of these guys a decent amount; Andrew Thomas is coming off offseason surgery and Shane Lemieux just had to miss practice time with a knee injury.
But these guys need reps, simple as that.
Everyone likes to talk about how Daniel Jones will improve this year and how the Giants have all these offensive weapons they can greatly utilize.
However, the weapons will be useless and Jones’ pending development will be ruined if the offensive line isn’t ready to perform at a high level.
Joe Judge and the coaching staff must figure out a way to handle this predicament.
Competition at ILB role alongside Blake Martinez
I know the depth chart is “empty” to begin training camp, but it’s always been clear Blake Martinez will be a starting inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
That other inside linebacker role, however, is still uncertain. The spot could be occupied by Tae Crowder, Carter Coughlin, Reggie Ragland, Devante Downs, or possibly even Cam Brown.
The first preseason game (as well as the other two exhibition matchups) should tell a lot about who could earn the most amount of time at the position or if defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will utilize a rotation.