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Schwartz: Previewing MetLife Bowl II

Giants (credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images) vs. Jets (credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Giants (credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images) vs. Jets (credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

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By Peter Schwartz
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Facing the Super Bowl Champions can be a good measuring stick for any team. Add in the fact that both teams play in the same metropolitan area and both clubs play in a stadium that each team went Dutch on to build.

But can that measuring stick be a factor in the pre-season?

The Jets are hoping that’s the case Saturday night when they “host” the Giants in the MetLife Bowl at MetLife Stadium.

“You can’t go up against anybody better than them,” said Head Coach Rex Ryan. “They were the World Champs last year, so we will see. Obviously, it will be a great test. They rush the passer about as well as any group in the National Football League so that will be a challenge. Offensively, Eli (Manning) and all of the weapons that they have, it will be a great challenge.”

While it can be looked as a measuring stick game, the focus for the Jets is simply to get better as a football team.

“It’s not a game-plan situation for either team,” said Ryan. “But you go out there and you love to compete. We’re competing against the World Champions so we’ll see how it goes.”

After losing to the Bengals in their pre-season opener, the Jets are looking for some improvement and they’re hoping that they can be competitive against Big Blue.

“Its fun,” said Mark Sanchez. “It’s fun to play against those guys. That’s a great football team and a great organization. (They’re) obviously coming off a big year. It’s our job to, while we don’t really game plan for a lot of preseason games, it’s important for us to go out and execute and play well, especially against your crosstown rival. It’ll be good to see those guys again in a game like scenario.”

Sanchez played just a quarter against the Bengals and figures to see more playing time on Saturday night. When he departs, Tim Tebow will experience the Jets/Giants rivalry for the first time.

He’s looking forward to step onto the field against the World Champions.

“Absolutely,” said Tebow. “They’re a great team and congratulations to them for winning a Super Bowl, that’s great. (I) just have a lot of respect for them and their players, and it’ll be a lot of fun to get a chance to play them.”

Tebow was front and center this week as the Jets practiced the “wildcat” in training camp for the first time. As you know by now, the media was allowed to watch but we’re not allowed to report specific plays and formations. It’s doubtful that the Jets will run it in a pre-season game. With everything about it being so secretive, it’s likely that the Jets won’t show it until the regular season.

While the Jets are very familiar with the Giants simply from a geographical standpoint and their regular season meeting last year, one of Gang Green’s off-season acquisitions also has plenty of intimate knowledge of Big Blue.

Former Redskins safety LaRon Landry is well versed in what the Giants are all about.

“I have played those guys for five years so I know them like the back of my hand,” said Landry. “I am looking forward to it.”

Landry has made surprising progress in his rehab from an Achilles injury. The Jets have had him on a pitch count and added some extra work this week.

“I feel good,” said Landry. “Things are coming along, communication is coming along. Physically, I feel fine. I feel ready. Each and every day, I am out there and I am ready to go. I set the bar high. I am my worst critic. I really grade myself tough.”

Ryan has been very happy with how well Landry has come along saying this week that he’s been progressing nicely.

IS THIS THE NIGHT?

After catching a touchdown during Tuesday’s practice, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie is chomping at the bit to play wide receiver in the NFL. With Rex Ryan talking about finding “hidden depth” on the team, Cromartie could get his wish on Saturday night.

Will it happen?

“I’m definitely hoping,” said Cromartie. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to try to play both ways in the NFL for a while. It’s fun. It’s an opportunity to get the ball in your hands and another challenge. I’m looking at going out and playing receiver as a challenge for me. I’ve been asking for it since I was a rookie in San Diego. I’m definitely just looking forward to the opportunity.”

With Santonio Holmes (rib/back) and Jeremy Kerley (hamstring) both out, it’s very possible that Cromartie will see some action on offense.

QUINTON = JPP?

After hearing plenty of criticism (including plenty from me), Jets first round pick Quinton Coples played very well in the pre-season opener against the Bengals. He notched a sack, forced fumble, deflected pass and five tackles last Friday night.

Will he be the real deal?

It’s too early to tell, but leave it to Rex Ryan to come up with an interesting comparison the same week that the Jets face the Giants.

“It’s funny, when you look at the numbers (from) when Jason (Pierre-Paul) came out and when Quinton Coples (came out), the measurables are almost identical, except that Quinton is an inch taller and 20 pounds heavier,” said Ryan. “Then Pierre-Paul has those arms that reach for days like Mo’s. I’m sure he has the longest arms I’ve ever seen on a guy, but they’re two unusual talents. These guys are unusual guys and hopefully Quinton can be the same kind of player Pierre-Paul ended up being.”

Comparing Coples to JPP is both interesting and dangerous. It can be very hard to compare players in the NFL, especially when one of them hasn’t played a regular season down yet.

One thing is for sure…after reading and hearing just how disappointing he’s been in practice, Coples silenced his critics for a week. The Jets are hoping that Coples will continue to improve and turn the detractors in believers.

METLIFE BOWL II

Last year, the annual Jets/Giants pre-season contest was given a name as the “MetLife Bowl” was born. The Jets scored a 17-3 win over Big Blue last year as Gang Green took home the brand new piece of hardware.

However, it wasn’t the trophy that the Jets had atop their to-do list last season.

“I know there’s that Snoopy Trophy,” said Ryan. “But, I’d rather have the other trophy that (the Giants) won. “We’ll trade the Snoopy for it. It will be a great competition. It always is against them.”

The winning team gets $40,000 for their charity while the losing team receives $10,000. Trust For Public Land is the Jets charity while the Giants will be playing for KaBoom!.

JETS/GIANTS PRE-SEASON SERIES

This will be the 44th annual summer meeting between the Jets and Giants. The Jets lead the all-time pre-season series 23-19 with 1 tie. The Giants lead the regular season series 8-4 including a 29-14 win over the Jets last December 24th.

THAT’S A WRAP IN CORTLAND

The Jets said goodbye to Cortland after Thursday’s practice. After Saturday night’s pre-season game, the remainder of training camp will shift to New Jersey. When Rex Ryan was named Head Coach back in 2009, he wanted to take the Jets away from the NY/NJ area for training camp feeling that it would help the team bond.

He couldn’t have been happier with the way things went over the last three weeks and how the Jets were received by the community.

“(To) The people of Cortland, I tip my hat to them,” said Ryan. “Everybody was terrific here. The University, as always, was just amazing. Everything went off without a hitch. The weather cooperated, you want to have one really bad rainy day, we had that, and that’s it. The weather was tremendous, the fields, the cafeterias, everything. Cortland, they always blow you away. I mean they blow me away. They do a tremendous job here and it’s a great place to have training camp. We’ll see if our streak continues and we make the playoffs. That would be nice. Really, I couldn’t ask anything more of Cortland and the community, everyone was terrific.”

After checking out of their dorms, the players headed back to the team’s practice facility in Florham Park after sixteen practice sessions in Cortland. They had their fair share of ups and downs over the last three weeks plus the unveiling of the “wildcat”, so the team is eager to continue what they started back on July 26th.

“Overall, (there are) a lot of positive feelings about camp,” said Mark Sanchez. “We can’t thank SUNY Cortland enough. The people around town have been great. The fans came out to practice. On the field, the football side of it, I think it was the best camp I’ve been a part of. We had plenty of individual time with our coaches to really work on some specific fundamentals that each coach wanted to target (with) their players. I think when we got into our team settings, it was very competitive. That is what Rex (Ryan) wanted. I (also) think we grew a lot as a team, on and off the field. Overall, it was a great experience and it will help us during the season.”

For Gang Green, this marks the third time in four years that they held training camp at SUNY Cortland. Last year’s lockout prevented the Jets from going to Central New York, so they will head back to Cortland next summer to complete the initial three year portion of what could turn out to be a 7 year stay. There are a series of one-year options that could keep training camp at SUNY Cortland past 2013.

METLIFE STADIUM GOES SOLAR

On Saturday night, a custom-designed Solar Ring at MetLife Stadium will be unveiled during the Jets/Giants game. NRG Solar created the ring that will encircle the top the stadium. It is made up of 1,356 solar panels that generate 25 times the amount of electricity needed to power an integrated LED light system that can display team colors and an infinite array of hues. Former Jets Wayne Chrebet and Joe Klecko will be on hand for the unveiling.

HELLO MR. PRESIDENT!

The Jets and the Giants have named Brad Mayne as the President and CEO of MetLife Stadium. Mayne is currently the President and CEO of the American Airlines Center in Dallas and will assume his new role on September 5th.

“I am excited to join the team at MetLife Stadium, an iconic venue that sets the industry gold standard, and to work closely with the New York Jets and New York Giants, two of the best franchises in the National Football League,” said Mayne. “I look forward to enhancing the deep tradition of excellence so closely associated with the Stadium and its two home teams, and am honored to be a part of the building’s ever-expanding future.”

Mayne replaces Mark Lamping who left MetLife Stadium in February to take over as President of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has been involved with running a number of facilities including the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim (now the Honda Center), the Five Seasons Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and the Tacoma Dome.

“With a proven track record of success earned by leading one of the country’s most popular multi-purpose venues, Brad is a natural choice to lead our Stadium into the next phase of its ongoing development,” said Jets Chairman and CEO Woody Johnson. “His comprehensive knowledge of sports and entertainment will allow for a broad yet balanced leadership approach and guarantee that MetLife Stadium maintains its standing as a first-rate facility.”

Mayne joins MetLife Stadium in time for the 2012 NFL season but will also play a major role in preparing for events such as Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014 and Wrestlemania this coming spring.

JET LINERS

Kickoff for the Jets/Giants game on Saturday night is set for 7pm. Parking lots will open Saturday at 2pm. Stadium gates will open at 5pm.

The National Anthem will be performed by Cara Akselrad and at halftime the Junior Flight Crew Cheerleaders will perform and the NRG Solar Ring will be unveiled.

If you can’t make it to the game, you can watch the contest on CBS2-HD with Ian Eagle calling play by play.

DT Sione Pouha (back) will likely miss the rest of the preseason but he expects to be ready for the season opener September 9th against the Bills.

After a day off on Sunday, training camp resumes on Monday at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park. On Tuesday, the Jets will practice at MetLife Stadium at 530pm.

The Jets have signed CB LeQuan Lewis. He was with the Titans as an undrafted free agent last summer but was waived after training camp. He signed during the off-season with the Raiders but was waived in June.

That’s all for now! Enjoy the game. Check back soon for more.

What quarterback will have the better stats after the MetLife Bowl – Mark Sanchez, Eli Manning or Tim Tebow? Let us know below in the comments section.