The Metlife Bowl kicks off tonight at 7:30 and despite the verbal sparring and buildup, it’s another preseason game for two teams that needs a good showing and coaching staffs that are looking at players before making their first roster cuts on Tuesday. Who wins the game is not important, how the Giants offense fares in this “dress rehearsal” for the regular season opener in two weeks is. Below are some things to Be On the Look Out for as you enjoy the game tonight, and it’s not Rex Ryan talking to Andre Williams.
The Giants Offense Game Plan: In an effort to improve their performance, Ben McAdoo spent some time this week implementing a “Pseudo game plan” for the Jets. Since teams rarely spend time game planning in the preseason, this increased organization should lead to a better showing on the field. We already know that the offense will be a work in progress through the first month of the season, but how severe that work in progress will be is put into evidence tonight.
The Wide Receivers: Tom Coughlin wants a play maker to step up, and the Jets are paper thin at cornerback. That’s a formula for success. Marcus Harris and Corey Washington are expected to get some time with the first team to see if they can continue to make plays against that level of opponent. Mario Manningham was given additional reps against the first team defense this week in practice to show his progress in recovering from a knee injury. Jerrell Jernigan is suddenly on notice that he has not necessarily locked up a roster spot. None of these men will be let go on Tuesday, but a poor showing against the Jets will limit their opportunities for redemption before the final cut down. Tonight is their big event.
Offensive Line Diversity: Coughlin is shuffling the offensive linemen to find the combination that works best. Justin Pugh at left tackle, Geoff Schwartz and Brandon Mosley at right guard, Weston Richburg at both guard positions. James Brewer and Charles Brown are both out tonight, giving additional time to Eric Herman, Mark Asper, Dallas Reynolds, and John Sullen. Having the offensive line this unsettled two weeks before facing a tough Detroit Lions front four is a disturbing prospect, but if the Giants can find the right combination to keep Eli Manning upright, it will make the offense click that much faster. Lack of offensive line cohesion will keep the offense’s prospects dim.
Safety: Cooper Taylor’s injury opens the door for Nat Berhe to lay claim to a roster spot. It also means increased playing time for C.J. Barnett, Thomas Gordon, and Kyle Sebetic, who, while not playing for roster spots, can make a case for practice squad slots with a strong showing in the final two games.
Tight End: The quest for an every down tight end to emerge continues into the Giants fourth preseason game. Adrien Robinson’s performance in the fourth quarter against the Colts appears to have earned him an opportunity to lay claim to the position. It’s likely his last hurrah as Robinson has not done enough to merit a roster spot in 2014. Daniel Fells, Larry Donnell, and Kellen Davis have out played Robinson and will take the tight end spots on the team, unless their spot someone on waivers that tickles their fancy.
The Kicking Battle: Brandon McManus has given Josh Brown a better run for the Giants kicker job than anyone expected and it’s been one of the most compelling battles to watch. Both have strong legs, have made every kick in the preseason games, including the 33 yard extra points, which ended last week, and McManus has gotten himself noticed. McManus has faded a bit recently, having one of his kickoffs fail to reach the end zone and recording missed attempts in practice, allowing Brown to overtake him slightly. Brown will hold on to his job, barring a poor showing in the last two preseason games.
And there you have it, some players to keep an eye on and things to watch while you unwind on Friday night to Giants football. The point spread is Jets by 1.5, meaning it’s a take the points game, with an over/under of 42. I like the under. I haven’t read that the Jets are game planning, and a shuffled offensive line means the Giants will not put up a lot of points. Corey Washington’s late touchdown given the Giants the win in a close game.
Big news to share, fansturn.com was able to arrange media access for your humble writer for the Patriots/Giants game on Thursday, August 28th. As far as I can tell, this means press box, post game locker room, post game press conferences, and all that access that will kick coverage of that game to a new level. If feasible, I want to bring everyone along for the ride by live tweeting from the Giants360 Twitter account and posting some Point-Of-View photos. Since we won’t know what’s permissible or the internet access until I arrive, check the account and the hashtag #GIANTSRIDEALONG starting at 4:30 on Thursday and let’s go behind the scenes together.
Check back here tomorrow for a review of the Giants vs Jets and enjoy the game tonight.