With the New York Giants hosting the New York Jets Saturday in their annual preseason meeting, Gang Green Nation John Butchko and I swapped a few questions about the two teams. Below, John's answers to my questions.
Ed: Let's get the quarterback question out of the way. What do you think IS going to happen ultimately with the Jets' quarterback situation? Part 2 of that is, what would YOU do?
John: A published report yesterday indicated Geno Smith is likely to be named the starter if he shows competence on Saturday. I think that is probably the right move. Mark Sanchez is a known commodity, and that commodity is a bad NFL quarterback. There really is not much reason to play him going forward. The only rationale I could see behind starting Sanchez would be if Geno was so far behind the curve that playing him would overwhelm him and stunt his development. I don't get the impression that is the case so this team is probably best served getting him some experience. The Jets aren't expected to do much this year so even if Geno plays poorly, you can at least use this as a learning experience.
Ed: New GM John Idzik and coach Rex Ryan don't really seem to be on the same page, at least from an outside perspective. Do you believe, like I do, that Ryan is pretty much a 'dead man walking' and this will be his last year as Jets' coach?
John: The inner workings of the Jets have been a mystery for years, but this is an arranged marriage between the new general manager and the head coach. When Idzik was hired, a condition was keeping Ryan on for 2013, but no demands were made beyond that. Typically in a situation like this, the general manager wants to bring in his own guy so that probably does not bode well for Ryan unless this team has a big year. My gut feeling is Ryan is probably gone unless the team does so well that it would be impossible to fire him.
Ed: The whole 'Jets-Giants' rivalry thing is, I believe, overblown in preseason. Do you care about the whole 'bragging rights' aspect of a preseason game?
John: I personally feel the entire Jets-Giants rivalry is overblown. They never compete against each other for a Playoff spot, and they play each other in a game that matters once every four years. Maybe I would feel differently if they consistently met late in the year with both teams battling for their lives like in 2011, but I just can't get too worked up about the Giants. I kind of like them to be honest. So to answer your original question, this game doesn't matter to me more than any other preseason game.
Ed: Tell us about a couple of young players Giants fans should watch for Saturday night, especially maybe a couple of guys we might not know much about?
John: The Jets' wide receiver corps is probably the place to look. With Santonio Holmes out, there are a lot of young guys who have a chance to step up. Stephen Hill was a second round pick out of Georgia Tech who didn't do much last year. He has 4.3 speed and is 6'4" so there are hopes he can develop into a homerun threat. Clyde Gates was a scrap heap pickup last year, another 4.3 guy. He didn't do much, but he has turned heads in camp and preseason with improved route running. Ryan Spadola is an undrafted free agent out of Lehigh who has made a strong case to make the team. Also of note for Giants fans, Phil Simms' son Matt is the fourth string quarterback.
Ed: If you could take one player off the Giants' roster and put him in your starting lineup who would it be? Why?
John: The obvious answer would be Eli Manning. The NFL is a quarterback league. Pair an Eli lead offense with a Rex Ryan defense, and you have the makings of a really good football team. If I can't take Eli, I'll go with Jason Pierre-Paul. A versatile pass rusher like that would have a field day with all the ways Rex Ryan would move him around. Having a guy like that would make Ryan's blitzing packages even more potent. The Jets are hoping Quinton Coples (who will miss this game with an injury) will develop into a similar force, but JPP already has the track record.
Thanks to John for taking the time. Be sure to read my answers to his questions as well.