The Atlanta Falcons travel to New York for a meaningless preseason game against the Jets. It may be meaningless in the standings, but this is not a meaningless game for some quarterbacks featured in this contest. All of them are concentrated on the Jets’ side, with Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, and Sam Darnold all vying for the starting job. There are a couple of interesting angles here with Jets’ quarterbacks. First, we get to see Bridgewater get some reps after getting his first offseason since 2015 to prepare for a season. Bridgewater wasn’t activated to practice until October of 2017. He had a long road back to the field.
Bridgewater had been on the sidelines since blowing his knee out before the 2016 season started. Bridgewater came in off the bench in Week 15 against the Bengals last year. He threw a couple of passes with one of them resulting in an interception. Can’t really expect much from a guy who came off the bench cold and didn’t get to practice in two years. Now with a full offseason and training camp, we’ll see if he has made any strides.
Note that the Jets have made it clear that they are open to trades for Bridgewater. If the price is right, they’d likely go ahead and get something for him. The goal is to eventually have the 3rd overall pick in the draft starting. He is supposed to be the future of the franchise, so that much is clear. The starting job for this season is still wide open, though. While unlikely, that also includes Bridgewater. This could also be a nice time for the Jets to put Bridgewater on display for other teams. He hasn’t shown any signs of the 2016 injury thus far.
However, whether he can parlay that into a starting or backup job remains to be seen. The evaluation period in camp and in preseason games is going to be pretty extensive for him. It goes without saying that Darnold is closely getting examined as well.
Recent USC quarterbacks don’t have the best history in the NFL, especially one in particular that came through the Jets. Mark Sanchez made a career out of playing behind a stout defense in the Rex Ryan era. They had success, but it wasn’t because of Sanchez. When he played without such a good defense, the holes in his game were evident. I wasn’t particularly high on Darnold in college. But with that said, he has the arm to be a quarterback in the NFL. It’s reading professional defenses that will be his main test. Then there’s the veteran Josh McCown. We’re all aware that McCown is a borderline starter to a good backup in the NFL. The depth chart is a little clearer for the Falcons, with Matt Ryan leading the way and Matt Schaub making his return in Atlanta to take on backup duties. Head below for our free Falcons vs. Jets pick on Friday in the NFL Preseason.
Atlanta Falcons vs. N.Y. Jets NFL Preseason Betting Odds:
vs. Jets -3.5(-110)
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Falcons vs. Jets Pick:
Reports out of Jets’ camp indicates that Darnold is getting plenty of reps with the first team. That’s expected for a guy drafted as high as Darnold was. Barring setbacks in the preseason, I would expect him to be the Week 1 starter against the Detroit Lions. He’ll get to show off to a primetime crowd right out of the gate on Monday Night Football. It will be tough to give him the nod if he struggles extensively in the preseason, though.
McCown isn’t the worst fallback plan. He was competent as a starter with the Jets in 2017. The veteran passed for 2,926 yards with 18 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. It was his best season since coming into the league in 2002. There isn’t much of a point to give McCown too much play in this game. He’s been around the block just about more than anyone else in the NFL.
The same goes for the Falcons’ Matt Schaub. He’s a 37-year-old that that has bene in the league since 2004. Back in that day, he was backing up Michael Vick in Atlanta. He ultimately teamed up with Andre Johnson in Houston to have some decent numbers as a Texan.
Schaub is back to where it all began to wrap up his career. Following Schaub is rookie Kurt Benkert out of Virginia. I think Benkert may have been surprised that he went undrafted, but he gets a chance to prove himself and get taught by one of the best in the business, Matt Ryan. Benkert is an experimental project. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. He edges out 27-year-old Garrett Grayson in the first depth chart released by the team. Grayson has spent his career in New Orleans as a practice squad filler since being drafted in 2015. Selected in the third-round, Grayson was expected to at least blossom into a backup.
With Matt Ryan a lock to start for the Falcons, and Matt Schaub a 37-year-old veteran, I don’t expect to see much of them. Ryan will get a series and Schaub likely plays into the 2nd quarter. Look for this game to come down to Benkert and Grayson vs Darnold and Bridgewater. Give me the 3rd overall pick in the draft and a guy who has excelled as a starting quarterback in the past. I believe Bridgewater is going to be fine against backups in this one. The Jets should cover this one with a 6 or 7-point win at home.