MetLife Stadium will be all decked out in green Friday night as the New York Giants “visit” the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Let’s check in with ‘JohnB’ of SB Nation’s Gang Green Nation to learn more about the Giants’ hosts this evening.
Ed: I have to start with the obvious. What are your impressions of Sam Darnold thus far?
John: So far he has looked pretty good. The preseason stats don’t look all that spectacular, but when you go back and watch the plays he’s been consistently making the correct read. The best thing I can say about him is that he doesn’t look like he’s in over his head. That hasn’t been true of other recent Jets young quarterbacks. He has shown the necessary skills a quarterback needs to have to succeed in this league, making good reads pre-snap and post-snap, displaying good ball placement, and moving within the pocket. He also has flashed some of that playmaking ability that made him such a great prospect.
Based on the way the Jets are using him and what the coaching staff is saying, I think the team is trending in the direction of making him the Week 1 starter. If he has a miserable game against the Giants that might change, but it feels like it would take something dramatic for somebody else to be under center.
I think any Jets fan needs to be realistic. Darnold is a rookie, which means there are probably going to be some growing pains. He’ll have some weeks where he looks miserable, especially on an offense that has some personnel shortcomings. But based on the skills he has, I’m not sure there’s much to be gained by keeping him on the bench at this point.
Ed: Teddy Bridgewater is quite a story. Is it possible the Jets use him as the starter early on to try to bump us his trade value, then deal him to a team in need of a QB?
John: If Darnold falters against the Giants, I think it’s plausible that Teddy Bridgewater could be the Week 1 starter. I also think it’s possible he could be traded. I don’t think the reason he would start would be to boost his trade value, though. If the Jets think Darnold is ready, I don’t see them delaying the start of this new era just to try and squeeze a slightly better pick out of another team by showcasing Bridgewater.
I do expect Bridgewater to get more reps over the last two weeks of the preseason than he otherwise might to showcase that he is recovered from his knee injury.
Ed: If you could take ONE player off the Giants roster and put him into the Jets lineup, who would it be? Why?
John: I know there are a few antics to deal with, but I think any offense would benefit a ton from adding Odell Beckham, Jr. There aren’t many non-quarterbacks who chance the entire complexion of an offense just by setting foot on the field the way Beckham does.
Ed: Tell me why, in your mind, the Jets will be better than the Giants this season?
John: That’s a tough question to answer because:
A. I’m not sure that they will be.
B. Part of that depends on the Giants having a bad year, and I could go either way on the type of season they will have.
Realistically, this Jets team is probably a year away from being a playoff team. There are too many issues on the offensive line, and they don’t have a quality edge rusher. The scenario where the Jets have a big year probably involves Darnold having an Andrew Luck rookie season and big ticket free agent signing Trumaine Johnson compensating for the lack of an edge rush by locking down the opponent’s best receiver each week. And that’s possible. It’s just not something I’d like to bet on. We’re talking about a rookie quarterback and a cornerback who is talented but could not currently be considered one of the game’s elite shutdown men.
Ed: Tell me about some under the radar players on the Jets roster we should watch for Friday night?
John: Former Titans seventh-round pick Tre McBride is making a strong push for a roster spot at a crowded wide receiver position.
Rookie running back Trenton Cannon was flashing in training camp practices but has been recovering from an injury. He just got back.
I think the big under the radar guy is the second player the Jets drafted, Nathan Shepherd. Obviously, the focus has all been on Darnold, but Shepherd has a pretty incredible story. He played college football at a Canadian college. He had to leave the school because he couldn’t afford to pay tuition. He worked a number of jobs, including one at a box factory, one as a bouncer, and one at a nursery among others. He ended up at Division II Fort Hays State. Shepherd got onto NFL radars with a strong Senior Bowl week. The Jets picked him in the third round, and now he’s about to earn a starting job as a rookie after a strong training camp and first two preseason games.