The New York Giants will face their stadium rivals on Saturday, and the New York Jets will be starting rookie quarterback Geno Smith in place of Mark Sanchez. Sanchez had squared off against the Giants in the preseason in previous seasons, but head coach Rex Ryan clearly wants to see if his rookie can handle the pressures of playing against a team with the Giants' pedigree.
Smith rolled his ankle during the first preseason game against the Detroit Lions, causing him to miss the following matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. If he doesn't have some sort of setback with the ankle between Wednesday morning and Saturday before game time, then he'll be under center for a lengthy portion of the game.
Ryan has always been in favor of starting Sanchez, though the Jets have gone 14-18 the past two seasons under his command. Ironically, he and Smith had similar numbers in training camp up in Cortland, New York.
Through Seth Walden of the New York Daily News' observations at camp, Smith had a completion percentage of 56.5 (70-124) with 10 touchdowns, five interceptions and 14 sacks. Sanchez, on the other hand, had a 56.8 percentage (71-125) with 10 touchdowns, four interceptions and 10 sacks.
Ryan may be leaning towards Sanchez, but he's not against giving Smith his fair share of snaps in real-time action. It may be just a preseason game, but defensive coordinator Perry Fewell will face a good test in adjusting his defense to face a mobile quarterback—even with a potentially bum ankle.
Expect Fewell to send an array of blitz packages in an effort to contain Smith. With linebackers and defensive lineman constantly in the backfield (or at least pushing back the Jets' offensive line), Smith will be forced to rush passes, throw on the move or run for short yardage in an effort to keep the chains moving. If he throws a few errant passes down field, then expect the secondary to attack the ball and look to make plays.
The Giants and Jets always play exciting games considering the brevity of a preseason matchup, and throwing a rookie quarterback in the midst of a position battle into the action will most assuredly add to the fireworks. Look for both quarterbacks to see time on Saturday, but Smith could see a majority of the snaps under center.
If so, the Giants have plenty of time to prepare. Look for them to give Smith problems in his first start for the Jets.
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