(Image credit Vincent Carchietta /USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick
Preseason has officially started for the New York Jets and the New York Giants as they played their first game on August 14th, 2021. I got to say it is fantastic that football has returned and it was great to see fans in attendance at MetLife Stadium for the first time since the 2019 season. Plus it was the return of the preseason for football. While others are not fans of the preseason, I am not one of them. This is a time for backup players to showcase themselves to not only make the roster but become starters. Coaches can use this time to adapt their play calling and adjust for the regular season. While the Jets won this game 12-7, let's see how the Giants and Jets performed in their first preseason game.
Now before we dive into the recap, here are the players that did not play due to injury/rest. (I will not be putting players that are currently on the PUP List so Ashtyn Davis, Vinny Curry, and Kyle Philips won't appear on this list.)
-WR Braxton Berrios (Groin) -WR Elijah Moore (Quad) -RB Tevin Coleman (Rest) -OL Alijah Vera-Tucker (Pectoral)
-DT Quinnen Williams (Foot) -CB Isaiah Dunn (Leg) -DE/EDGE Ronald Blair (Knee) - OL Alex Lewis (Left Squad list)
-OL Cameron Clark (Neck) - LB Del’Shawn Phillips (Undisclosed)
-QB Daniel Jones (Rest) - RB Saquon Barkley (Knee)
-WR John Ross (Leg/Rest) -WR Kenny Golladay (Leg/Hamstring)
-WR Kadarius Toney (Rest/Undisclosed) -TE Kyle Rudolph (Rest)
-TE Evan Engram (Rest) -CB Aaron Robinson (Abdomen
-OT Nate Solder (Rest) -Almost all of the starting Defense (Rest)
One more thing because it is the preseason I will be breaking down the performance of each position. Let's dive into the recap of the Jets and Giants' first preseason game.
Pregame: Normally I wouldn't go into detail into the pregame of a preseason game but I got to be honest, it feels and looks different with Robert Saleh as the head coach than with Adam Gase. When you compare the coaches in their respective first preseason games look at the players they are more enthusiastic about being at a preseason game with Saleh as the head coach than with Gase. Look at the posture of both coaches as well with Gase he looks like he doesn't want to be there on the sidelines and even easily gives up in the middle of games. With Saleh, he has great posture and clearly wants to be here even if it is the preseason. He wants to see players succeed where with Adam Gase it looked like he didn't care. It is great to see a real coach on the sidelines for the New York Jets. Hopefully, he does well in the regular season.
Kudos to the New York Jets for the tribute that they did for Greg Knapp before the game began, they held a moment of silence for the fallen coach. Greg Knapp was hired by Robert Saleh to be the pass game specialist/QB coach for the Jets. Sadly, as many know Greg Knapp passed away at the age of 58 in late July after being hit by a car while he was riding his bicycle.
Rest in Peace Greg. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Zach Wilson officially made his preseason debut with the New York Jets as he was listed as the starting quarterback. Zach Wilson was up and down during his first game in the NFL. He made some good throws to Corey Davis and Keelan Cole. He had good footwork when moving in and out of the pocket especially in motion. Hopefully, he can showcase his ability to make longer throws in the next few weeks as he mainly threw short passes. Overall I give his performance a thumbs up. When Zach Wilson’s day was done I was completely shocked that Mike White was the next quarterback to come in on offense in the mid 2nd quarter. To be honest Mike White performed well. He was very accurate throwing the ball short and intermediate. He even did a good job escaping the pocket on occasion. A guy who I stated was most likely the guy out of the QB room as of now is proving me wrong and I hope he continues his momentum next week. James Morgan took over at the end of the third quarter and was decent in his performance. He needs to focus on consistency as some of his throws were completely overthrown and others he makes solid short throws. I'm not too surprised that Josh Johnson did not play tonight as he is learning a new playbook and was just signed to the team not too long ago.
Yikes! You talk about a negative in this game, look at the performance of both backup quarterbacks Mike Glennon and Clayton Thorson. We will start with Mike Glennon and oh boy. Mike Glennon did not perform well in this game. Mike Glennon needs to stop holding onto the ball for way too long as there were times where he could have easily thrown the ball away and receivers were wide open. Glennon was terrible moving around in the pocket and was very inaccurate when throwing the football. He did get better in his last drive of the game and for the next game, Glennon will need to get to a better start a lot quicker. Clayton Thorson was absolutely abysmal in this game. Even though he had a bad game, he did throw a nice touchdown to Damion Willis but Willis was wide open after blown coverage by Corey Ballentine. Clayton Thorson needs to work on his accuracy as all day he had wide-open receivers down the field and overthrew them by a mile. To make it worse for Thorson he suffered an injury at the end of the game and could possibly be out next week for the Giants. If he wants to make the roster Thorson is going to need to improve his accuracy and stay healthy.
It is honestly amazing to finally see the running backs utilized properly on the Jets. As opposed to the old regime, Saleh and company have a great plan in mind for their backs. The Jets running backs were decent in this game as they had some good and bad moments. Ty Johnson and La’Mical Perine had showcased a lot of good moments in this game. Ty Johnson was also a receiving option for Zach Wilson to throw too. La’Mical Perine showed a lot of promise, especially as he scored a touchdown and he even did a decent job as a power-back option for the team. Perine also had a 14 yard gain, which was the longest run for the team the entire night. Overall, Michael Carter was a disappointment this game despite having a few solid moments. He even had a good catch in this game. Two running backs who didn't perform well for the Jets were Josh Adams and Austin Walter. Both players while not getting a lot of carries and had a difficult time with the opportunities given to them. Especially when they were protecting the quarterback.
First, I did find it ridiculous that the running backs did not get a lot of carries vs the Jets. Especially as the quarterbacks both struggled throughout this game. The running back with the most carries was Corey Clement. Remember Corey Clement, one of the pieces that had a big impact in the Philadelphia Eagles winning Super Bowl 52. He had a down game and had a terrible fumble when they were in the red zone in the first quarter. No joke I completely forgot Alfred Morris was still in the league and still in the NFC East on the Giants roster. He didn’t perform well when he was on the field. Devontae Booker struggled as well during the carries that he was given. The running back that shined the most was Sandro Platzgummer who broke out for a long 48-yard run. He even was targeted in the receiving game and could get more opportunities in the next game if head coach Joe Judge decides to utilize the running backs next game.
Corey Davis was clearly Zach Wilson’s favorite target and he was targeted four times by him when he played. Not only did Davis play well but so did Keelan Cole who took over Berrios’s role on special teams and did a good job as his replacement. The one player that showcased that he still has it is Denzel Mims. There were a lot of reports that said he was working with the 3rd string receivers. We got the reason why this was the case as Mims was out due to serious food poisoning where he lost 20 pounds. This is a very serious reason why he was held out a chunk of camp and worked with the third-string receivers. There was a lot of doubt that was placed with Mims as he was a projected cut. I hope they view his performance in this game as he had a strong performance. He only made three catches in this game. Look at the 20-yard catch he made in the third quarter on a 3rd & 18. This to me was the play of the game as he fought for the first time, juked three defenders, and fought for the first down with four defenders trying to tackle him. That was extremely impressive and next game Mims absolutely should be given more reps and continue to prove people wrong. As I mentioned in my 53 man roster prediction 2.0 article I said to watch for two receivers Vyncint Smith and DJ Montgomery. Both performed well in this game but especially Vyncint Smith who both shined on special teams and was Mike White’s favorite target to throw the ball to.
Nothing really to say here as a majority of the starters in the receiving game were out due to coaches' decisions or a chance to heal up the injuries they sustained in training camp. A player to watch if you're a Giants fan is David Sills V. He had some solid catches and is a smooth route runner. Besides him, the receivers didn't do much due to the poor quarterback play by the Giants in this game.
I got to ask, Why is Chris Herndon starting tonight? The guy all training camp worked with the backups and even the third-stringers on the team and was struggling a lot. Why in the world would you give him the starting role when Griffin and Kroft were mainly working with the first team? No shocker he was terrible tonight. He missed blocks all over this night and no surprise looked lost running routes today. Griffin was mainly a blocker for the team and made some strong blocks for the team. Wesco was on occasion lined up as a tight end but will mostly be the starting fullback on the roster. Tyler Kroft even struggled against the Giants as he was seen tripping multiple times throughout the game and missed blocks. Kenny Yeboah was not seen till the 4th quarter and he was notable in fumbling the football which almost led to a defensive touchdown. Easily the worst part of the offensive in this game for the Jets.
The starting tight ends didn't play for the Giants. But Tight ends Cole Hikutini and Kaden Smith played and did not impress. They did not even record a catch with the team and struggled with a chunk of their blocks. In fact, in total, the tight ends were only targeted one time throughout the entire game. Hikutini left the game due to an injury.
The Jets' offensive line performed very well. They performed so well that they only allowed one sack in this game which was very good. The one player that struggled was Dan Feeney as he on occasion missed blocks which led to easy tackles for the defense. He also missed a key block which led to Ty Johnson being tackled and it led to 4th down. Luckily he did bounce back at the end of the 2nd quarter and performed a lot better. Besides that, the Jets did a fantastic job blocking and I can't wait to see how well this O-line performs with everyone healthy.
A chunk of the starting Giants O-line didn't play too much in this game. Plus the Giants had three different offensive linemen in camp retire in a 4-day span with the team. Excluding Will Hernandez, the O-lineman that played struggled throughout this game letting the defense give pressure to QB’s Mike Glennon and Clayton Thorsen. It got worse as Kyle Murphy was even carted off the football field with an ankle injury. The Giants O-line is going to have to step up in the next few preseason games.
The defensive line showed us why this is the strongest part of the defense as they mainly performed well. Foley Fatukasi once again showcased his run-stopping abilities as he did a great job plugging holes. Jonathan Marshall and Hamilcar Rashed Jr. were very impressive in this game and even placed a lot of pressure on the QB and even had a tremendous sack in the fourth quarter. Bryce Huff was the king of pressures tonight as he led the team with 3 QB pressures and even sacked the quarterback twice in the game. The player that really impressed me was Michael Dwumfour as he had pass deflections and had made great plays all day when on the field. But the bad news was he left the game in the 2nd quarter with a calf injury. A player who did not perform well is Nathan Shepard as he was often dominated by offensive linemen and was even pancaked in some plays. He committed big penalties on big tackles in parts of the game. He even missed a bunch of key tackles and had sloppy techniques trying to get past the offensive line. Since we're on the defensive line I need to ask, Has anyone seen Jabari Zuniga? The guy straight-up disappeared when he was on the field. I legit thought that he was out due to injury and when I saw him get dominated multiple times when he made an appearance I was shocked. By the way, this is another reminder that the Jets wasted a third-round pick on Jabari Zuniga.
The Giants did not play their starters on the D-line and wanted to see how the backup players would perform. Well, the defensive line did not perform well in this game. They couldn't stop the run that much in this game letting Ty Johnson and La’Mical Perine run over them to get the first down. The only defensive lineman that I was impressed with in this game was David Moa as he made some solid moves to stop the running back but he needs to focus on consistency as there were times he was overpowered by the offensive line.
One word: Wow! I was heavily impressed by the performance of the linebackers in this game. Especially by the experimental players in Hamsah Nasirildeen and Jamien Sherwood. I can absolutely say that test one for both players was a success from their position change from safety to linebackers. They excelled in the snaps they took in the game vs the Giants. Sherwood was even an impactful player as well making good special team plays. Also, it is very telling in the confidence they have in Hamsah as he was named as the starter for the first preseason game. We even got a glimpse of CJ Mosley and he performed well with the minimal snaps he played. Jarrad Davis wasn't the best in this game. Even Blake Cashman had an okay night but he needs to improve with getting through the o-line on blitzes as he sometimes stops when he blitzes.
A player that impressed me a lot on the Giants is Carter Coughlin as he showcased his skills as both a run stopper and a pass defender giving pressure to the QB. He does need to work on covering receivers but if he cleans that up then he should make the roster. Reggie Ragland did a decent job in this game as well. TJ Brunson showcased his abilities forcing a fumble on Kenny Yeboah but he injured his knee later in the game and suffered a torn ACL that will end his season. A player that disappointed me was Tae Crowder who did a terrible job as he missed multiple easy tackles in this game and lacked awareness in coverage.
Jets corners did a very good job containing receivers throughout the game. Javelin Guildry, Brandon Echols, and Bryce Hall played well and shined throughout this game. Lamar Jackson the cornerback continues to struggle on defense especially one on one coverage. He is not working as a cornerback and it is clear he can't handle the duties as a cornerback without help. He needs to show improvements in the next few weeks if he will make the roster. Corey Ballentine was easily the worst player on defense tonight for the Jets. Ballentine almost had 3 players wide open which could have led to long gains and a possible touchdown and luckily Thorson was pressured and overthrew the football. Heck, he let a wide-open Damien Willis score an easy 21-yard touchdown for the Giants. To make it worse Ballentine wasn't that good on special teams either.
The cornerbacks for the Giants were decent against the Jets. The longest reception made by a Jets receiver was 22 yards. For the Giants, the worst player on defense was rookie cornerback Rodarius Williams. Even though he recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter he was continuously beaten in coverage. He was clearly sloppy with his footwork and was extremely poor in coverage. He did a solid job tackling players. Keep in mind Rodarius is a rookie but he must perform better than he did in the game against the Jets and if he does not then there will be a possibility that he does not make the roster.
Nothing really much to say for the safeties on the Jets but they did a very good job vs the Giants. Marcus Maye did play in this game and did a good job covering players and even made a good tackle. Sharrod Neasman, a player that I hyped up as a player to watch, looked great as he made some great tackles on defense and contributed on special teams. He is a player to watch in future games.
Just like the Jets there really is not much to say with the safeties for the Giants. Especially as Logan Ryan, Xavier Mckinney, and Jabril Peppers did not play in this game. Joshua Kalu made key tackles to stop long gains by the offense. Julian Love was okay in this game but he has to be more aware as he sometimes looks lost when he is playing on defense.
NY Jets: I got, to be honest, I am very concerned with kicker Chris Nagger. Chris Nagger made two kicks in this game. One was a 30-yard field goal which was a good kick. What was concerning is his second kick as he attempted a 53-yard field goal. It was not even close and was wide left. Nagger didn't have the leg strength to make that kick. He also didn't have the strongest posture when attempting the kick. Hopefully, he can rebound in the next two weeks and improve. Ammendola did not do a lot in this game except kick a PAT in the only touchdown. Keelan Cole and Vyncent Smith took over return duties since Berrios was out due to injury and did a decent job.
Nothing much to say about the special teams as Santoso only made one PAT kick for the Giants. A player that stood out for the Giants was Matt Cole who made good plays on special teams for the punting unit. He also was recently cut by the New York Jets in order to make space for recently signed Edmond Robinson.
The New York Jets had a strong performance in their 12-7 victory against the New York Giants. Hopefully, they can keep performing well in the next few preseason games against the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field on August 21st and the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on August 27th.