Posted by Josh Katzowitz
Only one game on the preseason docket tonight, but it should be an interesting one. New York Jets vs. New York Giants in the new stadium the two squads share. HBO’s Hard Knocks cameras will be there. So will Rex Ryan and his never-ending string of F-bombs. So will the Giants, who have claimed they have no idea what Hard Knocks is.
I’m sure the fans in attendance will be on their best behavior, and since they’ll want to study up on tonight’s most important storylines while eschewing any type of alcoholic beverage that could impinge on their abilities to break down the game, here are three pressing questions for each team.
1) How will Kyle Wilson look? Without Darrelle Revis around, Wilson is sure to get looks with the first team. How he performs could affect the team’s negotiations with Revis. If Wilson looks completely competent, the Jets can afford (perhaps) to take their time with Revis. If he looks overmatched, maybe they’ll give Revis’ agent a quick phone call post-game.
2) Can Mark Sanchez handle a more high-profile passing attack? Last year, Sanchez could allow his running game and his team’s defense to help him win games. This season, the Jets likely will allow him to test his arm a little more. We might get a few chances to see that tonight.
3) Does LaDainian Tomlinson still have it? This obviously won’t be answered tonight. But if Hard Knocks is any indication – and that’s debatable – Tomlinson still has speed and the ability to make the big play (even while catching it out of the backfield). I imagine he’ll get some playing time tonight to see how he performs in a game-like atmosphere.
1) Will the Giants defense be better than last year? It’d be tough to have been worse. As Clark Judge so astutely points out in his Giants camp report , the squad allowed 427 points last season, the most since 1966. To say that’s embarrassing is an understatement. Let’s see how new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s men perform.
2) How will the Giants’ new additions on defense help? New York get safety Kenny Phillips back and the Giants have added LB Keith Bulluck, first-round pick DE Jason Pierre-Paul and safeties Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant. How will they all mesh? The Giants have added some veterans, but does that mean all of these players still have the ability to dominate on defense?
3) How much will the Giants miss Domenik Hixon on returns? Last year, he averaged 15.1 yards on punt returns and performed relatively well on kickoffs. But he tore his ACL early in training camp, and it sounds like RB Danny Ware will handle kickoffs and CB Aaron Ross will take punts. Yet, Ware only has returned two kicks in his career, and Ross hasn’t done it at all (though he seemed pretty decent at it his final two years at Texas) The loss of Hixon could be a pretty big deal.
And if you didn’t think this preseason game was huge enough, consider the following: this will be the first contest where officials will experiment with starting and stopping the game clock themselves from the field.
From USA Today :
Four officials will wear a smartphone-sized pack by which they can control the pace of the game clock with the press of a button. The officials will work in concert with the game clock operator in the booth, and the system will activate whenever the first official hits the button.
The goal is to be more accurate and reduce lag time between when a play ends or when the ball is set and when the game clock officially starts.
If all goes well, the league could consider adding the system in 2011.
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