N.Y. Giants vs. N.Y. Jets: Giants' Preseason Week 3 Game Preview
The Snoopy Bowl is back.
The New York Giants (3-0) and Jets (2-0) meet in the regular season once every four years, but the rivalry stays hot, thanks to their annual preseason battle at MetLife Stadium. On Friday, the Giants will enjoy the rare experience of being visitors at the Meadowlands.
The Jets defense has only allowed 13.5 points per game this preseason, so don't expect the Giants' floundering offense to suddenly straighten out in Week 3. Unless the next David Wilson breaks an 84-yard run, or the next Victor Cruz blows up for three touchdowns, it could easily become a defensive battle for the Big Apple.
A real testament to the slime green and true-blue bad blood between the Jets and Giants, this may be the only preseason pregame trash talk you'll ever read about.
The Snoopy Bowl series is split at two wins apiece. The Giants won the first meeting in 2010, 31-16, thanks to Cruz's breakout performance—then wearing No. 3. The Jets took last year's meeting, a 24-21 overtime thriller.
Read on to get all the latest news, injury information and matchups to watch for Week 3 of the preseason.
Giants Preseason Week 2 Recap
It's difficult to describe exactly what took place at Lucas Oil Stadium last Saturday night, when the Giants showed up for a preseason contest in Indianapolis—the new home of familiar wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.
"Uh...yeah!" Nicks said, per Jordan Raanan at NJ.com, when asked if this game—his first at Lucas Oil since his 28-catch, 444-yard, four-touchdown postseason run to become a Super Bowl champion was actualized—meant something more to him, as if to say his discord with his departure from his former franchise should be a no-brainer.
"I don't really want to talk about the Giants. That's in the past," Nicks said, per Raanan. "I'm a Colt now. I'm tired of the Giants questions."
On Saturday night, Nicks came as close as possible to slapping general manager Jerry Reese without actually laying his 10.5" hand on Reese's face. The five catches and 53 yards Nicks racked up did not include a 36-yard catch-and-run that was negated by a "taunting" wave in the direction of the closest-pursuing defender, Trumaine McBride.
Meanwhile, Reese's reassembled Giants roster looked disjointed, as the starters and backups bumbled to a 26-0 deficit through three quarters, only to watch the camp bodies rally back to a 27-26 victory in the waning minutes of the fourth.
Conductors of the Giants' offensive experiment must revise their hypothesis. Reese's rebuilt offensive line lacks a foundation with Chris Snee freshly retired; the GM's first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. hasn't been a full participant at a single practice this summer. The brand-new offense is already in need of some fresh ideas.
The Giants, somehow 3-0 in the preseason, have two more weeks to iron out their cavernous wrinkles.
And if they're counting on more luck, there won't be fourth- and fifth-stringers on the 53-man roster to provide it during the regular season.
News and Notes
BECKHAM SUFFERS NON-SETBACK
Suffers a non-setback? That doesn't make much sense. Well, neither did the narrative pushed by the Giants when they announced that 2014 first-round selection Odell Beckham Jr. would miss another preseason game.
"I don't consider this a setback," Beckham told the team's website, (via ESPN.com's Dan Graziano).
"They're not saying it's a setback," head coach Tom Coughlin confirmed, per Graziano.
This announcement came a day after Beckham pulled up lame on a play during practice.
Whatever you want to call it, Beckham is missing key practice time, and that's a setback to the offense. Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle are struggling to generate anything imposing in the receiving game. Beckham's injection into the offense wouldn't do much for the leaky O-line, but it would at least give Eli Manning an extra pair of hands to throw at when under pressure.
Fourth-year receiver Jerrel Jernigan has not made the most of his first-team reps this preseason, and Beckham would be scarfing them up had his hamstring not been hamstrung.
Instead, the Giants must wait for Beckham's healthy return and, perhaps, the first sparks of life in the Giants' passing game.
SHUFFLE AND RE-SHUFFLE
A good offensive line is reliable and consistent, and neither of those terms describe New York's current starting five.
The Giants started fiddling with their offensive line configuration this week. According to Jordan Raanan of NJ.com, tackle Justin Pugh flipped sides to work on the left side, allowing Mosley to kick out to Pugh's vacated right tackle position. Rookie center Weston Richburg worked out at all three interior O-line positions.
Raanan suggested this starting five: Will Beatty (LT), Weston Richburg (LG), J.D. Walton (C), Geoff Schwartz (RG), Justin Pugh (RT)—and he made a pretty convincing case for it.
While on the topic of shuffling lineups, ESPN.com's Dan Graziano predicted one in the wide receiver lineup for the final weeks of the preseason. Corey Washington and Marcus Harris are two young receivers who deserve some of the "placeholder" reps Jernigan has received with Beckham sidelined.
CRUZ PLAYS IT COOL
The Ben McAdoo bandwagon has gotten significantly lighter in the past week, as fans are now leaping off at a lighting-quick rate.
Cruz is in for the long haul, though. When asked if the issues on offense will progress into the regular season by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com, Cruz denied any feeling of concern.
"We haven't given a lot of plays, tipped our hands on a lot of things we're showing [in practice]. It's pretty base stuff [in preseason games]," Cruz said, per Raanan. "We just have to do a better job of executing."
In other words, Cruz is saying the Giants will execute the more complex regular-season offense with a higher degree of efficiency than they do the dumbed-down preseason version. I beg to differ.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I think the Giants are the real New York team."
—Rookie running back Andre Williams on the Giants-Jets rivalry (New York Post, via CBSNewYork)
|WR Odell Beckham Jr.||hamstring||OUT|
|CB Prince Amukamara||groin||DNP|
|WR/KR Trindon Holliday||hamstring||DNP|
|RB Peyton Hillis||foot/ankle||DNP|
|OL Charles Brown||shoulder||DNP|
|OL James Brewer||back||DNP|
|LB Jon Beason||foot/PUP||OUT|
Amukamara is a new addition to the list. Although his groin injury, incurred during the Colts game, is not considered serious, he is likely being held out of the action as a preventative measure. Amukamara has looked stellar so far in preseason, and in his stead, players such as Trumaine McBride and Zack Bowman will receive quality reps.
Beckham and Holliday are still dealing with lingering hamstring injuries. Beckham was making some strides before his recent non-setback. Holliday, however, is now looking like a roster casualty, considering how much time he has missed. Some young receivers will receive increased reps versus the Jets.
The Giants lost a little depth on the offensive line with both Charles Brown and James Brewer sidelined. They need one of these two massive men to serve as a healthy reserve this season, but neither player is suitable for a starting job long term.
X-Factors and Matchups to Watch
Jason Pierre-Paul vs. D'Brickashaw Ferguson
After knocking Pittsburgh Steelers backup Bruce Gradkowski into next week, JPP receded and was lost in the trenches against the Indianapolis Colts.
Connor Hughes of Big Blue Interactive noticed that Pierre-Paul was not imaginative with his rush selection, choosing multiple times to go with an unsuccessful bull rush. Will he be able to just turn it on again in the regular season? Pierre-Paul told Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post that he doesn't care about preseason sacks.
Versus the Jets, JPP will go head-to-head with D'Brickashaw Ferguson, a respectable left tackle, but he's not the dominant one he was from 2009-2011. Ferguson is now on the wrong side of 30, and Pierre-Paul has an athletic advantage on him. Ferguson will rely on his veteran savvy to slow the sometimes sloppy pass-rusher.
Giants Pass Protection vs. Jets Pass-Rush
Lacking much of an identity, the Giants' offensive line will now take on the Jets' pass rush, which figures to be one of the league's hottest to handle in 2014.
On the blind side, Will Beatty will have his hands full with Quinton Coples, a 2012 first-round selection and rising pass-rusher. More troubling than Coples, however, is the hurting end Muhammad Wilkerson (2011 first-rounder) and tackle Sheldon Richardson (2013 first-rounder) are going to put on the rest of New York's O-line.
The Jets are sure to throw in some stunts and blitzes, the likes of which the Giants may never have seen before. This will really test the running backs to see how well they can apply the pass-protection schemes on the fly.
By holding a couple of blocks, the line can at least give Eli Manning the opportunity to redeem himself this preseason.
Eli Manning vs. Jets Secondary
If Manning gets some time to look downfield, he'll be staring down a train wreck of a secondary.
For Manning, completed passes have been hard to come by this preseason. He has thrown only one on nine attempts in the past two games combined—a six-yarder to Jernigan.
Quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf set the completion percentage bar at 70 percent, which is an unrealistic figure unless the Giants experience offensive enlightenment.
If a confidence-builder is all the offense needs to spark a rhythm, as Manning has claimed (via Ralph Vacchiano, New York Daily News), Cruz or Randle should be able to get open for that play against this group.
Will Manning find them?
X-Factor: Damontre Moore
Although his snaps with the first team have been limited, Moore is making a case for himself as the most disruptive player on New York's defense.
Moore has dominated the opposition's backups (which he should do), collecting 10 tackles, two sacks and consistent pressure on the passer through three preseason games. He will be in the defensive end rotation as a pass-rush specialist during the regular season, so New York is counting on him to put this prowess on display when the Giants ask him to go against better talent.
The annual Giants-Jets preseason contest—known as the Snoopy Bowl since the two teams moved into MetLife Stadium in 2010—is rougher than your average exhibition. These two teams do not like sharing New York City, and their frustration is almost always on display when they're also forced to share a field.
New York Daily News' Gary Myers recalls notable injuries to Jason Sehorn (ACL, 1998), Chad Pennington (wrist, 2003), Osi Umenyiora (knee, 2008), Eli Manning (head, 2010), Stevie Brown (ACL, 2013) and Mark Sanchez (labrum, 2013) that occurred during this preseason matchup.
At least one player on both sides will be added to the injury list before the game's end. And based on recent history, there's a solid chance that a very good player could be lost to a very bad injury.
Cruz and Randle might actually get something going versus the Jets, but the third receiver will be a wash. If either Marcus Harris or Corey Washington takes first-team reps in place of Jernigan, he will look very different from the Harris or Washington who takes the field in the fourth quarter. This will only put more pressure on Beckham to speed up his recovery.
After getting worked out a bit against the Colts by Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselbeck, the Giants' secondary will bounce back against the Jets. It will face Geno Smith and Michael Vick, both of whom can be forced into making mistakes. Stevie Brown might snag his first post-ACL injury interception.
There are a lot of players trying to make the Giants roster through their play on special teams, and each of them can afford to learn something from Zak DeOssie. The eighth-year long snapper has offered smothering punt coverage this preseason. Look for him to be the first one hitting whoever fields Steve Weatherford's punts on Friday.