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5 Things to Watch For in Jets’ Preseason Opener

When the Jets face the Eagles on Friday, keep an eye on these five parts of New York's roster.

Finally, football is back. 

After what felt like a long offseason, football is back.

On Friday night, New York goes into Philadelphia to take on the Eagles at 7:30 p.m. EST. 

The old cliche, “It’s only preseason,” will surely get thrown around. 

However, there are five key things to watch for in this game against the Eagles.

1. How do the offensive tackles hold up?

I’ve been beating on this drum for months about the need to acquire an elite level tackle, and on Monday, the Jets’ held their collective breathe when starting right tackle Mekhi Becton went down in practice, grabbing for his surgically repaired knee. 

Starting left tackle, George Fant is slowly trying to make his way back from a knee surgery of his own. 

Multiple reports stated quarterback Zach Wilson was under constant pressure in practice Monday. 

Now we'll get to see what General Manager Joe Douglas’ backup offensive tackles are made of. 

We get to see what I was most afraid of for this team right off the bat, as tackles Conor McDermott, Max Mitchell, Chuma Edoga, Grant Hermanns and more try to figure this out. 

It’s not just a lack of experience that is most concerning. 

They are all fringe guys, a couple taken in the mid-rounds, one taken as undrafted free agent and three others who have bounced around the league. 

The Jets may want to strongly consider resting Wilson in a town that’s well-known for punishing opposing QB’s.

2. Who will back-up Wilson on the depth chart this season?

Will it be long-time veteran Joe Flacco or will it be the younger Mike White, who gave this offense a real shot in the arm last season? 

That question will be answered in these preseason games.

While there have been rumblings the Jets may only keep two QB’s, I don’t see how Douglas could ever do that given the tentative situation at offensive tackle and given Wilson’s injury background. QB’s are just too hard to come by at this stage. 

3) How does the pass rush look? 

In 2021, the Jets pass rush was weak compared to the rest of the league, ranking No. 25 while averaging 1.9 sacks-per-game.

Douglas responded by acquiring free agent pass rusher Jacob Martin, and drafting Jermaine Johnson and Micheal Clemons. 

I have serious doubts about both, as I think Martin is an underachiever and Johnson lacks what it takes to win the edge at an elite level. 

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The cool thing is we finally get to see big money free agent Carl Lawson, who missed all of last season. I liked what I saw from Lawson in Cincinnati prior to the injury.

It will also be our first look at free agent defensive tackle, Solomon Thomas who played for Jets’ Head Coach Robert Saleh in San Francisco, when Saleh was the Defensive Coordinator there. 

Clemons is the headliner, as I believe he will prove to be the Jets’ best pass rusher this season.

4) The kicking battle 

I know…kickers…

Nobody ever cares about them until a game is on the line. 

Veteran Greg Zuerlein, who had fallen out of favor in Dallas, is battling hold-over Eddy Pineiro for the Jets’ kicking job. 

The Jets were in nine games decided by seven points or less in 2021 (losing five of them). 

This proves how important the kicker really is.

The past is the past and the Jets kicker in 2022 (at least initially) will be decided in the preseason. 

In 2021, Pineiro had a higher FG (100% vs. 82.9%) and a higher extra-point percentage (90% vs. 87.5%). Both showed about the same leg range (Pineiro long of 51 vs. Zuerlein long of 56).

Does this give Pineiro a leg up? 

We’ll see. 

5) Zonovan “Bam” Knight 

Anyone with the nickname of “Bam,” promises to be one to watch. 

Knight caught my attention as a player to keep an eye on back before camp began. 

He was just plain tough to bring down on his college game film and running with that kind of determination has continued to make him stand out at camp, according to several reports.

Knight is a running back and a kick returner who could fast become a fan favorite, while becoming someone Douglas will have a very hard time parting with. 

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