The New York Jets open the preseason tonight against the Tennessee Titans at MetLife Stadium. Here are a few things to look for in the matchup.
Who are the Titans?
After winning just three games in Mike Mularkey’s first season with the Titans in 2015, the Titans tripled that win total last season when they won nine games and just missed the postseason. They tied with the Texans for the AFC South lead with nine wins, but lost the tiebreaker because they finished 3-3 in the AFC South while the Texans finished 5-1.
Last year’s squad defeated six teams with winning records—Detroit, Miami, Green Bay, Denver, Kansas City and Houston—to tie the Dallas Cowboys for the most such victories in the NFL. Five of those wins were against playoff teams (all but Denver), which tied the Packers’ total for the most in the league.
Tennessee is led by second year QB Marcus Mariota. Mariota has done well in his two seasons since coming out of Oregon. Despite the Titans winning just three of this 12 starts in 2015, Mariota still threw for over 2800 yards and nine more TD than INT (19-10) while completing over 62 percent of his passes.
In 2016, Mariota threw for over 3,400 yards while throwing for 26 TD and just was intercepted nine times. A right fibula injury ended last season for him.
After playing three seasons with the Jets, Eric Decker will be facing his former team for the first time. Decker was released during the offseason in the Jets veteran salary cap dump. Decker averaged 77 catches for over 980 yards and 8 TD in his first two seasons with the Jets, but missed most of last season playing in only three games and making nine catches.
All Eyes on QB
For the New York Jets the eyes will be on second year QB Christian Hackenberg, who will get the majority of the reps along with fellow QB Bryce Petty. Josh McCown will start, but will only play the first two series.
Hackenberg doesn’t have to light up the sky, but he does need to show that he can be consistent with his throws and show that he has command of the offense.
Which WR Will Take the Torch?
After the injury to WR Quincy Enunwa where he will miss the entire 2017 season, it will be very interesting to see what WR step up this season. Robby Anderson takes over as the number one receiver, but who is behind him is up for grabs.
Draft picks ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen have impressed in camp and will get their chance. Jalin Marshall caught just 14 passes in his rookie season last year and will miss four games due to a suspension to start the season, but the New York Jets are counting on him to be a slot receiver they can count on.
Another second year WR, Charone Peake showed flashes last season and is anxious to get more balls thrown his way this season to show what he can do. Marquess Wilson, Frankie Hammond, Chris Harper, Myles White, Deshon Foxx. Lucky Whitehead and Gabe Marks will also get their shot to prove themselves and make the roster.
Defensive Line Has A Lot to Prove
After a subpar year last year where they totaled just 18 sacks, the defensive line needs to establish themselves as one of the NFL’s best right away. Leonard Williams continued to improve in 2016 after his rookie campaign in 2015 and led the team in sacks with seven.
However, Sheldon Richardson and Muhammed Wilkerson had subpar years last season which led to problems both on and off the field. This season both players know they need to be examples to their teammates and get back to the pro bowl players they were in years past.
Judging by some of the comments from them and their teammates and coaches, both players look like they understand how disappointing their play was last season and want to really state their claim again in 2017.
2017 first and second round draft picks Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye have both been the talk of training camp so far with their attitude and stellar play. If the both of them can contribute consistently, this defense could be one of the best in the NFL in 2017.
Mark Kelly covers the New York Jets for ProFootballSpot.com. You can follow him on twitter @CkmagicSports. Looking for more Jets news and features? Like our Jets Facebook page and also follow @spot_jets on Twitter.