Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comHere’s what I’ll be watching for in tonight’s Jets matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Safety/Corner Switcheroo — Ryan talked this week about throwing Antonio Allen up against AJ Green. Will he really do that? If not, who plays instead? Bent and I spent a lot of words (here, here, here) this week on the topic . But whatever the Jets do, don’t expect whoever comes in to play flawlessly. Not because they aren’t good enough, but because the Jets might want to leave players without help to see how much the coaches can “redline” this system tweak to their defense. Look for Antonio Allen, Ellis Lankster and Darrin Walls to see extended time early at corner. Walls might be falling out of favor right now and see how Calvin Pryor looks for the first time in live action for the Jets.
Make It Count — Geno had a fine performance last week against the Colts, but it was Mike Vick that electrified fans and media with a classic scramble and some solid passing. The Jets know what they have in Vick and Vick knows what he has in this offense. Meanwhile, Geno has had a steady camp and done a good job in protecting the football. Last week against the Colts, Geno was able to move the ball, but can he step it up this week? While the Bengals aren’t all the way back defensively, the team still has a stout group and so seeing get the Jets down the field and into the endzone will be key.
Pressure point — For the past few years the Jets defensive line has hung their hat on their ability to stop the run. They need to continue that trend while now upping the ante at pressuring the passer. With a secondary in and out of triage, the best way to paper over that problem with the players they already have isn’t to send Antonio Allen out there, it is to attack the quarterback.
Boyd Oh Boyd — Sixth round draft pick Tajh Boyd hasn’t done much convincing so far through training camp, but tonight will be his chance to demonstrate whether or not he’s the gamer that Rex Ryan believes him to be. Boyd will see time with and against the third stringers during the second half. “Once you go in a game, another switch is flipped,” Boyd told ESPN New York this week. “At the end of the day, I just have to go play free, and that’s something I’ve been battling with.”
Back of the line — D-lineman TJ Barnes has had an impressive camp. Can the Jets keep him on the roster, will they carve off another player to do so? Tonight might be another chance for Barnes to state his case for why he belongs on this team.
Now or never — This is the time for Stephen Hill to assert his claim as a viable part of this offense. He might be the most athletically gifted player the Jets have in terms of size and speed, but it has taken time to put it together. Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg called Hill’s camp “outstanding” last week. But like we’ve asked the past two years, can Hill’s solid camp translate consistently on the field this September? Tonight is a critical test for the young receiver. “If you run a vertical route or even a short route, show vertical speed because you have it in you,” Lal told the New York Daily News about his third year receiver. “Be aggressive at the top because you’re 6-4, 215, just using what God has given you in every route.” More than anything, Hill must realize how freakish he is use it to his advantage and if he can’t figure it out this year then it might never happen.