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6 Things to Know About Jets-Eagles

Posted Aug 26, 2014

Thursday's Preseason Finale Is the Time When the Twos & Threes Step Up and Win Jobs

Nick Bellore captured the essence of Thursday night's preseason finale between the Jets and the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

"Yeah, this is the marathon game for the twos and the threes," said Bellore, whose only pro starts of any kind came in the 2011 Jets-Philly game when he was a rookie free agent linebacker and then last year. "It's always fun. It's kind of a familiar opponent with the Eagles. I'm excited to watch some of the rookies, too. I won't be able to spectate that much, but when their time comes, that's always fun to see who steps up."

Indeed, players on both sides will be fighting for jobs, even careers, with Saturday's final cutdown to 53 looming. Many unlikely Jets have starred and won jobs in this game, and the Birds' strong offense and weak defense could be the catalyst to an 800-yard, 60-point affair.

Here are six things for you to know about the final preseason game of 2014 just ahead:

1. Reunion with the Sanchize

The March "trade" of Mark Sanchez to Philly for Michael Vick has gone well for "The Sanchize": He's completed 25 of 31 (80.6%!) for 281 yards, two TDs, one INT and no sacks, all for a 112.5 passer rating. Sanchez also has said talk of him being shipped to St. Louis in the wake of Sam Bradford's season-ending injury is "silly." So we would expect, with starter Nick Foles watching, to see him square off with Vick, Geno Smith's backup, for maybe a series apiece at the start of the game.

2. Chunk Plays and Points?

There are still some wideout spots to nail down, not to mention Daryl Richardson vs. Alex Green as the fourth RB. With those offensive jobs at stake and with Vick, Matt Simms and Tajh Boyd at the QB controls, we should be able to move the ball because Philadelphia's defense has struggled big-time this summer with rankings in the 30s in yards/game, yards/play, passing yards/game, first downs/game, third-down rate, red zone TD rate, and points.

3. Corners Under the Gun

If John Idzik, Rex Ryan and the Jets stand pat with the personnel at cornerback, this is a big game for roster spots and perhaps even quality playing time heading into the opener against Oakland. The Jets head coach has already said Kyle Wilson and Darrin Walls won't play, so with all the other issues it'll come down to Ellis Lankster, LeQuan Lewis, Johnny Patrick, Jeremy Reeves and Brandon Dixon holding the fort.

Our DBs and LBs will be targeted because the Eagles have the NFL's No. 1 passing, total yardage and points offense. Sanchez, Matt Barkley and G.J. Kinne (a Jets offseason QB two years ago) will be throwing to the likes of WRs Damaris Johnson and rookie Jordan Matthews and TE Zach Ertz.

4. Saunders, Saalim Bring the Speed

It's the last tuneup for our return teams. Jalen Saunders, the confident fourth-rounder, is cleared medically to play and especially for his specialty, returning punts. And the super-speedy Saalim Hakim has just nailed down the kickoff-return gig (after Jacoby Ford's release) and also is looking sharp on KO coverage and as a punt-team gunner. The Eagles have covered punts well this summer but have allowed a healthy 27.2 yards per KO return.

5. Pick-Six Greenhouse

What are the odds that the Jets will take an interception back for a touchdown? Pretty good, based on past preseason meetings with the Eagles. Antonio Allen picked Matt Barkley last year and took it 20 yards for the score, our eighth pick-six in the past 22 seasons vs. the Birds. Others who've done it: Ellis Lankster in 2011, Rashad Washington (for 99 yards) in '05, Giradie Mercer in '02, Aaron Glenn in '97, Mo Lewis in '94 and Glenn Cadrez and Dennis Byrd, both in the 1992 Hall of Fame Game at Canton.

6. Dress Rehearsal

It's not terribly significant that the Jets lead this summer series, 22-13, and that they've won five of the last six at the Linc. More important is that since 2001 this game has been the final summer tuneup on both teams' schedules, and that since 2006 no first-team players started in this game.

Which leads to the phenomenon that unexpected Jets often rise to prominence on this night. In the previous eight meetings, Cedric Houston and Danny Woodhead had 100-yard rushing games, David Clowney a 100-yard receiving game — on two catches — Chansi Stuckey and Jesse Chatman cleared 150 all-purpose yards, DE Trevor Johnson had two INTs, and DT C.J. Mosley had three sacks.

And last year Simms went 33-for-44 passing for 285 yards in pitching his complete-game 27-20 victory that cemented his role as Geno's backup for the year.

Someone in Jets green will stand out similarly in two nights' time. Who will it be?





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