When the New York Jets were scheduled to take on the Indianapolis Colts in their 2014 preseason opener, memories of the Jets 1969 Super Bowl win replayed in my head. Then reality sank in and I remembered it’s just the preseason. These games don’t mean much to a lot of people, but preseason games are the building blocks to a great regular season and dare I say a Super Bowl berth. We’re still a long way away from that, but when the Jets take on the Colts on Thursday night look for some new names trying to make a good first impression.
The Jets head into their first preseason game with Geno Smith as the starter and, of course, the Colts are lucky to have Andrew Luck as their starting quarterback. Smith was named the starter for the Jets on Tuesday and now its his chance to embrace the role and prove that Michael Vick was not needed as sometime to push him and play better.
Both Smith and Luck have some new weapons in their arsenal as the 2014 season begins. The Colts added ex-Giants WR Hakeem Nicks and highly touted rookie WR Donte Moncrief. And even though Nicks is off to a slow start in training camp, Moncrief looks like the real deal. Reggie Wayne is expected to grab the No.1 spot at receiver, but the No.2 and No.3 is still open with T.Y. Hilton looking for a spot in the rotation as well. It should be interesting to see what Colts’ receivers play well and if Nicks is still slow to catch on when he gets some live action.
The Colts problem is they has too much depth at wide receiver while the Jets problem is they doesn’t have enough depth at receiver and the corner backs that are supposed to cover the talented crew of Colts’ pass catchers. Dee Milliner is the new No.1 back that needs to start strong in the preseason and prove that he is “the best corner in the league.” He will be tested early and often because Wayne, who I’m sure is dying to get on the field and prove that he is healthy, was hurt last season. The Milliner, Wayne match-up should be an interesting one to watch early on in the game.
On the Jets’ defense, I would keep an eye on Jason Babin and Quinton Coples because if those two can take an already profound Jets’ defense to a new level then Luck will be on his back a lot on Thursday.
The Jets will also get a chance to take a look at the newly acquired Eric Decker and TE Jace Amaro go up against a Colts’ secondary that has been injury bitten. Its top corner Vontae Davis and safety LaRon Landry aren’t expected to play in the team’s first game of the preseason, so there is an opportunity for someone to step up and impress in the Colts’ secondary.
Other position battles to look out for include the Colts’ running back position and defense end spot. Is Trent Richardson ready to put his terrible 2013 season behind him and start fresh or will Ahmad Bradshaw get more time at RB?
On the Jets side, keep an eye on the tight end position and guard position. The early news out of camp says TE Zach Sudfeld could make a run for some playing time in the 2014 season. Another big name on the Jets to monitor is Chris Johnson as he steps on the field in green and white and tries to prove that he can return to full health.
There is a lot to watch for in the preseason, and even though the wins and losses don’t really count, the results on the field could effect a lot of players during the regular season.