The New York Jets finally have their quarterback situation in order after a tumultuous run with Ryan Fitzpatrick, but they might still be a bit of a mess to kick off the preseason.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New York Jets
Date and Time: Thursday, 8/11/16, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
Preseason Week 1 NFL Odds at BookMaker.eu: Jets -2.5 (36.5)
Jaguars vs. Jets TV Coverage: Local
Fitzpatrick was picked up for a de facto song and a dance from Houston last year, and he really paid dividends for the Jets. He couldn't quite get them into the second season, but it's really hard to complain about a team going 10-6 under first year coach Todd Bowles.
The offseason was horrid for New York, as Fitzpatrick essentially held out for the most money possible all the way into the end of July, and as a result, he was a late reporter to training camp. More on that in a moment.
Jacksonville's training camp features really high hopes for this season, but there is a ton of work to be done for sure. This is a make-or-break year, not just for Bradley, but perhaps for Blake Bortles as well. Bortles threw for 35 TDs and 4,428 yards, but his 88.2 QB rating left a lot to be desired. He probably won't be on the field much in this first preseason game, but every rep he gets will be highly criticized for better or worse.
Matchup To Watch
Preseason games are really all about the young players who are still trying to learn the game, and there are definitely some big time rookies and relatively young guys who are going to need some reps for the Jags from the get go. Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Dante Fowler Jr. are all expected to step right in and start, and with that parlayed with a few other new faces in this defense from last year, don't be surprised if Bradley leaves his first-team defense out there a little longer than you would expect.
That could put a lot of strain on Geno Smith, a man who is genuinely reviled in New York when he steps onto the field. With Fitzpatrick still getting back in the swing of things, we doubt that he plays in the opening preseason game, and even if he does, he won't be asked to do much.
It's Smith who has the proving to do. He's a veteran now, and the time is here for him to really make some improvements or go away. He didn't play in the preseason last year, but this time around, we suspect he will take a bunch of reps, especially with Fitzpatrick not playing much. If Smith can't get the ball moving against the first-team Jacksonville defense, you can bet that he's going to hear it from the hometown crowd.
Jaguars vs. Jets Free Picks
Our favorite play in this game is actually the first half under, but in lieu of that, we're going to play the under for the game. These two teams were actually relatively high-scoring last preseason, but we think things are going to taper out just a bit here in a game where neither team will get into the 20s thanks to Smith and the fact that Jacksonville will probably be spending more time with rookies Brandon Allen and Max Wittek on the field than anything else.
Jaguars vs. Jets Preseason Week 1 ATS Pick: Under 36.5 at BookMaker.eu
Jaguars vs. Jets Score Prediction: Jets 17 – Jaguars 16