NFL Preseason 2010: Top Five Storylines for the Giants and Jets Match-up
While most preseason games are generally just a chance for the starters to go through the motions and for rookies and younger players to do their best to impress their coaches, tonight’s Jets-Giants game has a distinctly different feel to it.
It might be because of the new attitude that Rex Ryan has brought to the Jets, or possibly because both teams have been doing an inordinate amount of jawing leading up to the game, but for whatever reason this feels more like a regular season game than an exhibition.
At the end of the day, this game doesn’t impact the standings, and regardless of who emerges with the win, it’s not going to drastically change either team’s situation heading into the regular season.
But there is one thing that both teams are playing for tonight—pride.
It’s accepted throughout New York that the Giants have been the main draw and the Jets have played the little brother role for the majority of their existence.
However, New Yorkers and NFL junkies alike saw a slight shift in this dynamic last season, as the Giants played some of their worst games toward the end of the season and missed out on the playoffs, while the Jets made an inspiring run to the AFC Championship game and nearly made the Super Bowl.
Because of the Jets history of playing second fiddle to the Giants for most of their existence as well as the Giants embarrassing play down the stretch in 2009, both teams enter tonight’s game—as well as the 2010 regular season—with a chip on their shoulder.
Of course anyone who cares about this game will be looking at the usual story lines such as how rookies Jason Pierre-Paul, Linval Joseph, Kyle Wilson, Vladimir Ducasse, Matt Slauson, Phillip Dillard, and Joe McKnight will fare in their professional debuts.
But let’s take a look at the other story lines that will be in play when the Giants and Jets take the field tonight.
Opening of the New Meadowlands Stadium
Whenever two teams open up a new stadium that cost approximately $1.6 billion to build, you better believe it’s a big deal.
Much like the old Giants Stadium, the new Meadowlands Stadium will be the only NFL venue that is shared by two teams. What will be different about this stadium is that the Jets will now own a 50/50 partnership in the stadium, whereas they were only considered a junior partner at the old one.
This led to one of the weirdest practices in sports, where the Jets actually played their home games in Giants Stadium.
While the new stadium will be officially called New Meadowlands Stadium, both teams have already begun calling it either “New Giants Stadium,” or “New Jets Stadium.”
Whatever you want to call it, this definitely sounds like a budding rivalry to me.
In addition, the Jets will be unveiling their Ring of Honor before the start of tonight’s game. They will induct Weeb Ewbank, Winston Hill, Joe Klecko, Curtis Martin, Don Maynard, and Joe Namath.
Presumably, this ceremony is being done during a preseason game to beat the Giants to the punch, and word has it that the Jets are still upset about losing Roger Goodell’s coin flip for which team got to officially open the stadium during the regular season.
Darrelle Revis’s Absence from the Jets Secondary
This story has been all over the news for the last few weeks, and it doesn’t appear that Revis will be joining the Jets anytime soon.
It’s one thing to hear the talking heads debate whether or not the Jets can still contend without one of the best defensive players in the league. It’s quite another to see how this defense actually performs on the field without him.
The first time the Jets secondary will be without Revis in a game situation comes tonight at eight o’clock and the Giants passing attack is capable of giving them a run for their money.
It should be very interesting to see how the newly acquired Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson fare tonight, as those two new additions (along with the rest of the Jets secondary) will undoubtedly be under the microscope because of Revis’ absence.
Perry Fewell's Defense
One of the biggest questions entering the 2010 season for the Giants is whether their defense will be able to bounce back from its embarrassing performance at the end of the 2009 season
Former defensive coordinator, Bill Sheridan, was fired after one disappointing season, and Perry Fewell was brought in during the off season to right the ship.
Although it's just the preseason and he probably won't show very much, tonight will be Fewell's first chance to unveil his new scheme and should also be important for the players to get a better feel for things at game speed.
Tonight's game should also shed some light on how Fewell plans on using the myriad of Giants defensive ends, including Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka, and Jason Pierre-Paul.
Giants fans should also get an extensive look at the rest of the middle linebacking core, as Keith Bulluck will be sitting out, giving Jonathan Goff, Chase Blackburn, Gerris Wilkinson, and rookie Phillip Dillard a chance to impress the Giants coaching staff.
The Battle for New York Starts Tonight
It might sound a little silly to sensationalize the Giants and Jets annual preseason meeting as anything more than an exhibition that has been happening for the last 41 years.
But the tension leading up to this game makes it hard to ignore that both the Jets and Giants want to be known as the premier team in New York.
While this might only be a preseason tune up, both sides seem to have their trash talking in midseason form.
Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas and Jets linebacker Bart Scott have already traded verbal jabs, and Giants defensive end, Justin Tuck, said that New York is still the Giants town until the Jets win the Super Bowl.
Even Rex Ryan admitted that with the excitement of opening the new stadium swirling around, this game feels a little bigger than just another preseason game.
A couple of seasons ago, after the Giants won Super Bowl XLII, they seemed to cement their place as New York’s top football team.
But, in just one season, Rex Ryan has changed the perception of the Jets around the NFL, and thanks to all the buzz surrounding this team—from participating in HBO’s Hard Knocks, to their off season moves, as well as being a Super Bowl contender—it would seem that the battle for New York’s football attention is up for grabs.
Rex Ryan’s Game Plan
In the preseason, most coaches throw out a vanilla defense, refrain from blitzing or really going after the opposing team’s quarterback, and generally only play their starters for a few series.
But Rex Ryan isn’t most coaches. He has made his name in the NFL by doing things his way, and that means bringing the pressure early and often and getting in the quarterbacks face.
Most likely, Ryan will play it safe and not throw out any elaborate defensive schemes against the Giants, but it will be very interesting to see what happens in tonight’s game if his defense starts taking a few shots at Eli Manning.
Ryan has also said that he intends to play his starting offense and defense a little more than normal during the Jets first preseason game, which could also make things interesting, should something out of the ordinary occur while his starters are getting extra reps.