This is Week 2 for the Jaguars and the Jets in their approach to the upcoming NFL season.
Make that Week 2 in the rebuilding process for both franchises.
The Jaguars' record last season (2-14) indicated there was plenty to work on and many errors to correct from 2012, but in the minds of many and the local media, was there a team more embattled in a collapse than the Jets, who could not get out of their own way and could not get away from the Tim Tebow debacle that essentially handcuffed the franchise at the doing of head coach Rex Ryan?
A new season, no ties to Tebow for either team and a fresh start. There are many similarities to this franchise, which begin with quarterback play and the fact two high-profile players, Mark Sanchez and Blaine Gabbert, are fighting to retain their starting roles and the need for receivers and running backs to “do their job” in helping these teams win.
Both Gus Bradley (Jaguars) and Ryan are defensive-minded coaches so it will interesting what wrinkles will be added on that side of the ball.
The game is in New York, which will also mean this is the first time the Jaguars will be on the road with the new coaching staff.
Here are five things to look for Saturday night.
Quarterback play from both sides
The Jaguars have not announced it yet, but look for Chad Henne to start Saturday night. Blaine Gabbert looked like the Gabbert of old, while Henne wasn’t much better. Bradley probably will alternate again like he has in practice between the two and name a starter after the fourth game in the preseason.
Ryan has to decide between his maligned passer, Mark Sanchez, and the new kid on the block, Geno Smith.
I think Gabbert and Sanchez start the season, but both will on short leashes and Henne and Smith will be ready at the quick. But the quarterback play is major problem for both franchises.
Starters in play
Cecil Shorts, Maurice Jones-Drew and other players who did not see time on the field last week, should see the field this week. There are other players who may or may not play, like Luke Joeckel who has a hip flexor and may be held out of needed. The Jaguars will also have Justin Blackmon and Jonathan Cyprien back in on the roster.
Marks and Wilkerson
I love seeing defensive linemen get after the ball carrier and the quarterback. Muhammed Wilkerson of the Jets and Sen’Derrick Marks of the Jaguars could be Pro Bowl players this year. If Marks continues to show skills like he has and in practice and against the Dolphins, the middle of the Jaguars interior will be a brick wall.
While the Jets are pleased as punch to have Smith as a potential replacement for Sanchez, they also drafted Dee Milliner in the secondary. How will he play in the game Saturday night? I am a huge fan of Milliner, so his progression is paramount to the team’s secondary.
The Jaguars have two dynamic players in Denard Robinson and Ace Sanders who will add excitement to this offense and return game. We saw glimpses of it against the Dolphins.
Everything in New York is bigger and played out moreso in the media. Rex Ryan thrives on being in the driver seat when it comes to being in charge. The Jets were a 6-10 team last season that could have been 8-8 or better.
Ryan was a firestorm of controversy. His team was unhinged and he about got his butt kicked out of New York. This season is the most important season of his coaching career. Be ready to see new things on offense and a stingy, suffocating defense.