The New Orleans Saints return to the field this afternoon for their third preseason game, this time taking on the New York Jets. Fans will finally get to see quarterback Drew Brees in his first game action, along with most of the rest of the starting units for at least a few series. Even though it is still preseason, there are a few things that both the coaches from both teams want to see from their squads in what is essentially a dress rehearsal for the regular season.
SAINTS OFFENSE vs. JETS DEFENSE
Suffice it to say, new Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, Brees, and Saints coaches Sean Payton and Pete Carmichael are all very familiar with each other. Williams has wasted no time implementing his trademark aggressive defensive packages, and his unit has blitzed often this preseason. New York is stout up front, with a big and powerful defensive linemen in Leonard Williams, Henry Anderson, and rookie 1st round pick Quinnen Williams to set the tone. The Jets added tackle machine C.J. Mosley at linebacker in free agency, but they suffered a big loss at linebacker when Avery Williamson was lost for the season with injury. New York also has an outstanding safety tandem, with 2017's sixth overall pick Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. The Jets look just ordinary at cornerback though, despite the presence of Trumaine Johnson. Former Saint Arthur Maulet is fighting for a spot at corner among a handful of young players the team is hoping will step up.
The Saints are hoping to get a few sustained offensive drives before likely sitting their starters for the night. The New Orleans offensive line will be tested against the aggressive tactics of Gregg Williams, particularly rookie center Erik McCoy, so we should expect to see balanced playcalling to prevent the Jets from teeing off on Brees. It will be the first opportunity to see offseason addition Jared Cook at tight end. The team hopes Cook meshes with Brees quickly, to give them another productive option to go along with receiver Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara. Once the New Orleans starters begin to trickle out of the game, the backup units must finish their drives. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had a solid outing against the Vikings in the preseason opener, while Taysom Hill performed spectacularly in the second half against the Chargers last week. Too often though, the Saints have settled for field goals in scoring position, and last week they turned the ball over three times in the red zone. New Orleans is hoping to get a better performance from their backup offensive line, which has struggled quite a bit in both exhibition games. The Saints still have a very close competition within their wide receiver unit as well. Emmanuel Butler, Cyril Grayson, Lil'Jordan Humphrey, Simmie Cobbs, and veteran Austin Carr have all had solid moments in practices and/or games, but none of the five have necessarily separated themselves from the others.
SAINTS DEFENSE vs. JETS OFFENSE
All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan should play a number of series in this one, and will join his linemates up front in a good matchup against what is expected to be a solid Jets offensive line. Defensive end Trey Hendrickson has had an outstanding preseason so far, but last year's top pick Marcus Davenport has been largely invisible in both preseason games. New Orleans will obviously be without defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, but David Onyemata and Malcom Brown look to shut down the Jets running attack and provide interior pressure. The Saints look to establish dominance up front with their deep rotation that includes Mario Edwards Jr., Taylor Stallworth, and Ziggy Hood, while Porter Gustin looks to crack the rotation for a spot on the roster. Former Jet Demario Davis leads an athletic New Orleans linebacking unit that will be without Alex Anzalone and Craig Robertson. Rookie Kaden Elliss has had several standout performances though, along with reserves Darnell Sankey and Vince Biegel. The Jets aren't expected to have one of the better passing attacks in the league, but quarterback Sam Darnold has flashed the potential to be a solid NFL starter. New Orleans certainly hopes that their front seven can generate consistent pressure on the young signal caller, but they also expect to get better play from their secondary. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore has played well in practices, but has seen little action yet in preseason contests. Fellow starter Eli Apple has been inconsistent in both preseason games, while veteran corners Patrick Robinson, P.J. Williams, and Ken Crawley have flat-out struggled. Kayvon Webster and Justin Hardee have both played well reasonably well, possibly making a bid for roster spots of theiir own. Vonn Bell has had a very good preseason at safety, as has rookie 4th round pick Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Fellow rookie Saquan Hampton has missed time recently with injury, but may have already earned a spot with his standout play. Chris Banjo hopes to rebound from a putrid outing against the Chargers last week, and coaches are waiting for Marcus Williams can revert back to his playmaking rookie form. New York may not have an elite passing game, but it is important that this secondary can show that they can eliminate big plays and miscommunication, something that plagued them early last season, along with creating turnovers for an otherwise very good Saints defense.
Deonte Harris seems to have a firm stranglehold on the team's return spot, hoping to make the team with his electrifying open field abilities. The New Orleans coverage units played poorly against Los Angeles last week though. Many spots on the back half of NFL rosters are earned by good special teams showings. With only a short time left before the August 31st roster deadline, a poor showing tonight could lead to some players being out of a job.
What is your top expectation from the Saints when they face the Jets?
This poll is closed
A few sustained drives from the No. 1 offense
A couple of the backup wideouts to separate themselves
A better performance from the backup offensive line
Consistent pass rush from the front seven
A better performance from the secondary
Cleaner play from the kick coverage units