What to watch for in the New York Jets’ preseason finale vs. Eagles

New York Jets

The end of the preseason usually means one thing: The beginning of the real season, the regular season, is closer than ever. For the New York Jets, the final preseason game might mean a little more this year.

If you plan to watch the Jets’ final exhibition game, when they play host the Philadelphia Eagles on 7 p.m. Thursday, here’s our rundown of what you should pay the most attention to throughout the night.

Will Josh McCown start?

And how much will he play? As we pointed out on the recent Jet Fuel podcast, McCown has only played one drive through three preseason games so far. Todd Bowles announced Monday that McCown will be the Jets’ Week 1 starting QB, but he has very little game action with the Jets under his belt.

If McCown doesn’t get several drives with the first-team offense in the first quarter against Philly, it’ll be much less defensible for the team to turn around and throw him out there Week 1 against the Bills. Yes, this opens up the possibility of injury for McCown or another offensive starter, but someone could have gotten hurt against the Titans and the game would have counted the same. This is where we are now.

The new O-line strategy

Brandon Shell had a pretty unfortunate performance starting at right tackle against the Giants. The rest of the first-string offensive line were similarly underwhelming for yet another week. As Bowles recently pointed out, he sees three unsolved positional battles on the line: both starting tackles and starting center. Will we see surprise competitor Jonatthon Harrison get another start at center, like he did Week 2 against Detroit? Does Brent Qvale really have a chance to start the regular season at right tackle, or will we see Ben Ijalana move over to the right and get some reps there?

Looking for Dex McDougle

The Jets traded McDougle, the fourth-year cornerback out of the University of Maryland, to Philadelphia for safety Terrence Brooks on Sunday, less than 12 hours after the Giants game and just four days before the Eagles’ trip to MetLife. It’ll be strange to see McDougle in an opponent’s uniform this quickly after he played in the real green and white.

Probably more importantly, we will begin to gauge what Terrence Brooks looks like. He was picked one selection before McDougle in the 2014 NFL Draft by Baltimore, and he had an interception and two forced fumbles in his only year with the Eagles.

Let’s solve this kicking battle, once and for all

I mean, seriously. Chandler Catanzaro hit a field goal from 27 yards out in the Giants game, but if that’s enough to convince special teams coach Brant Boyer and the rest of the staff to keep him, I’d be disappointed. Ross Martin has looked like the better kicker all summer. I hope, possibly more than anything, to see both kickers get chances to attempt field goals from at least 40 yards out in the Philly game.

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