Maybe no two quarterbacks are under more pressure this preseason than New York Jet Mark Sanchez and Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert. Both will vie for some semblance of job security when New York hosts the Jaguars on Saturday night at MetLife Stadium.
Despite two lackluster years, Sanchez has reportedly been impressive during practice and earned the starting nod over injured rookie Geno Smith, while Gabbert has to contend with veteran Chad Henne gunning for his job.
Gabbert will have to do better than the 5-for-10 for 19 yards and a pick performance he posted a week ago in Jacksonville’s 27-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Henne went 8-for-11 for 87 yards, and holds the veteran edge over his younger counterpart.
However Gabbert will have some help in the backfield with the debut of running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who will play in his first game since suffering a Lisfranc injury early last season, according to NFL.com. Jones-Drew is two years removed from his 1,606-yard season, and has proven when healthy he’s one of the best at his position.
Unfortunately boasting the worst Super Bowl odds of any team this season, the Jaguars offense struggled against Miami in their first preseason game, but there was plenty of good production on defense.
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Jacksonville held the Dolphins to 2.9 yards per rush, and allowed three third down conversions. Last season Jacksonville was 28th in the league in third downs surrendered, with opponents successful on 41 percent of their attempts.
Much of the success against Miami was due to a pair of young linebackers in second-year player Brandon Marshall, who totaled five tackles, and undrafted rookie LaRoy Reynolds. According to the Florida Times Union, both have earned more playing time this week against the Jets. First round pick and safety Johnathan Cyprien will also make his first appearance, after returning to practice earlier this week from a hamstring strain.
Overall the Jets had just as many troubles as the Jaguars in their 26-17 letdown to the Detroit Lions. Sanchez went 10-for-13 for 125 yards, one score and a much-maligned pick that was returned for a touchdown on his first series, and New York managed 37 total rushing yards. First string rusher Bilal Powell had nine carries for 14 yards, while the offensive line committed far too many penalties, especially Stephen Peterman and Willie Colon.
The Jets also spread the ball around to 15 different receivers, with Ben Obomanu leading the team with four catches for 59 yards, and rookie Zach Rogers snagging two balls for 20 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Jeff Cumberland also had one catch for 26 yards and a score.
The game kicks-off at 7:30 p.m. ET and a live online stream is available by subscription on the NFL’s official site here.
Jacksonville fans can watch on WTEV-TV, and New York WCBS, unless you have Time Warner Cable, in which case the online subscription might be the best way to go.
Betting Odds: New York is favored by 3 points.
Over/Under: 38 points
Prediction: New York 17, Jacksonville 10