By Brad Carroll
Here are three biggest storylines to follow as the New York Jets take on the New York Giants in the annual Snoopy Bowl game Friday night.
Darnold Gets His Shot
Jets coach Todd Bowles is expected to start rookie quarterback Sam Darnold against the Giants, and it would be a complete shock if he didn’t. If things go according to that plan, Darnold will be given the opportunity to grab hold of the starting job. If he plays well, or even mediocre against what will be the Giants’ starting defense for the first half, at least, it should result in the Jets starting the former Southern Cal passer in Week 1. If Darnold falls completely apart, it would open the door for Josh McCown or Teddy Bridgewater to win the job heading into the regular season. Everything the Jets are doing in training camp and the preseason has been leading to Darnold winning the job, so it would take something terrible for him not to be the opening day starter. In addition to that overall storyline, there is the chance to watch Darnold get real reps against a real defense for an extended period of time. The third preseason game is the closest thing you’re going to get to the regular season experience, which means we could learn a lot about Darnold as a potential starter. It’s not the end-all, but it’s going to be another exciting moment for Jets fans to see what they have in Darnold.
Finding A Kicker
The Jets have a lot of holes to fill in all three phases of the game, but the kicking situation is suddenly a huge storyline. The Jets released the guy who was thought to win the job this summer, Cairo Santos, this week. He hasn’t been able to kick because of a groin injury. After fully recovering, the Jets sent him packing. It cost them $500,000. Taylor Bertolet has been handling the kicking duties in camp and is perfect this preseason. He went 2-for-2 in extra points and had a 45-yard field goal against the Falcons in the opener and then went 2-for-2 in field goals with a successful extra point against the Redskins. He made a 21-yard field goal with 1:52 to go against Washington to give the Jets the lead. But he has no NFL experience, so the Jets claimed Jason Myers off waivers from the Seahawks. Myers lost the kicking job in Seattle to Sebastian Janikowski. He was also released by the Jaguars in the middle of last season. So, no, there isn’t a lot of confidence in either player right now. The Jets will be looking for anything positive out of either player against the Giants, and going forward, as they must find a trustworthy player at that position heading into the regular season.
Finding A Pass Rush
Do the Jets have a player on the current roster who can fill the pass rusher role they desperately need? Or will general manager Mike Maccagnan pull off what could be one of the biggest trades in team history and add disgruntled Oakland Raiders star Khalil Mack to the roster? One of the two certainly needs to happen if the Jets’ defense wants to be fully disruptive this season. The secondary is a heck of a lot better than it was last season, but if the front seven can’t get to the quarterback, it won’t matter one bit. Jordan Jenkins and Nathan Shepherd are two guys to watch against the Giants, as both could become what the Jets need out of that role. Or, maybe, by the time the regular season rolls around, a certain guy with 36.5 sacks over the last three season will fill that role better than anyone since John Abraham, and that was a long, long time ago. It’s one huge storyline to follow on and off the field.