What to Watch For in Jets-Lions Matchup Saturday

QUARTERBACKS: The obvious focus will be on Christian Hackenberg. Jet’s offensive coordinator John Morton has referred to this year as Hackenberg’s “rookie season” with his “redshirt” season last year. It will be interesting to see if the Jets allow him to throw the ball downfield more than his basically conservative first audition last week in which he was very efficient. Look for Hackenberg to get as many or more reps than last week, as the Jets want to put him in a pressure situation if possible to lead a scoring drive and/or a two-minute drill.

Veteran Josh McCown likely will get more playing time than he his one series last week. McCown was sharp last week and it was a bit surprising that he pulled early. McCown still looms as the starter in Week One and will see more time.

Even though he is effective in practice, Bryce Petty will need a strong showing to stay with the team. It is still too early to see if the Jets will carry all three quarterbacks for the season.

RUNNING GAME: Bilal Powell will be back in the backfield, but Matt Forte is still battling a hamstring problem. Elijah McGuire, Romar Morris, and Jordan Todman all showed some flash last week against Tennessee, but the Jets only accounted for 56 total yards on the ground. Powell’s addition should be able to increase the number.

The Jets’ center position and the tackle spot are apparently still up for grabs among a core of players, and it will be worth watching to see who has a strong game at all spots.

DEFENSE: It was a good sign to see the front four of Steve McLendon, Sheldon Richardson, Muhammed Wilkerson, and Leonard Williams jogging in unison up and down the sideline after their stint. All four appear to be in unison for a big year ahead.

Wilkerson appears to be revitalized this summer and he and the rest of the front had a good game against Tennessee. The staring defense played well and shut down the Titans on all fronts.

Keep a watch on the linebacking corps. Starters Demario Davis, Darron Lee, and Jordan Jenkins were sharp last week with Jenkins recording one of eight sacks on the night. Lorenzo Mauldin, who had a great game and a sack, should get a better look as well as Bruce Carter, Anthony Johnson, and Patrick Gamble.

If the Jets’ defense will need to carry them this season, they certainly made a good first impression from the starters to the third unit.

KICKING GAME: Nick Folk is in Tampa, and Chandler Cantanzaro and Ross Martin are locked in a tight battle for the placekicker role. Martin has been impressive in camp, and he should get a good look this week.

LIONS’ ROAR: Detroit defeated Indianapolis, 24-10, last week, as the Colts didn’t play starter Andrew Luck. The Lions played starter Matthew Stafford only for a series last week, and he should get more playing time Saturday night.

If the Lions play their starters most of the first half, it will be a good test for the Jets’ defense.

About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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