FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Remember this when you're watching the New York Jets in their first preseason game on Saturday night:
Avoid sweeping judgments. Don't get too high or too low based on individual or team performances. Remember the Browning Nagle Rule.
In 1992, Nagle was terrific as a first-year starting quarterback in the preseason, raising expectations with a 5-0 record, but he stunk in the regular season. And that was the end of Browning Nagle.
On Thursday, coach Todd Bowles tried to offer some perspective with regard to his young quarterback, Christian Hackenberg, saying, "I'm not expecting him to go out there and be Roger Staubach."
Let's hold that thought as we present our "Five Things to Watch" for the Jets-Tennessee Titans opener at MetLife Stadium:
1. No one is expecting Jerry Rice, but ...: The Jets need to see progress from their oh-so-young receiving corps, which lost leader Quincy Enunwa to a season-ending neck injury. Defensive schemes usually stay vanilla in the preseason, but it would be helpful to see how the receivers respond to press coverage. Some, including Robby Anderson, have struggled at times getting off the line of scrimmage. Personally, I'll be watching rookies ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen, neither of whom has stood out on the practice field. The front office will start scouring the league for available receivers if some of the kids fail to emerge over the next couple of weeks. The return of Eric Decker, starting for the Titans, will remind the Jets of what they had.
2. No one is expecting Ronnie Lott, but ...: Prized rookie Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye -- the starting safety tandem -- will be fun to watch. The organization loves what it has seen from both players on the practice field. Maye has been the talk of camp, demonstrating physicality while also showing instincts in pass coverage. My practice observation: They truly are interchangeable safeties. Both can play in the box and both can play in the deep post. That versatility will help the defense stay unpredictable.
3. No one is expecting Forrest Gregg, but ...: Bowles wants to see some separation at right tackle, where Brent Qvale and Brandon Shell have been splitting first-team reps in practice. This is the most competitive position battle on the roster, and it'll probably take at least three preseason games to declare a winner. If neither player seizes the opportunity, the Jets could turn to Ben Ijalana.
4. No one is expecting Lawrence Taylor, but ...: The Jets have a lot of bodies at outside linebacker, but do they have two legitimate starters in the group? With Lorenzo Mauldin (back) hampered by yet another injury, look for Freddie Bishop to start on the weak side, with Jordan Jenkins on the strong side. The competition is "very intense," according to Jenkins. What the group lacks is an explosive player on the edge, a must-have in a 3-4 defense. I'm curious to see rookie Dylan Donahue, whose motor never stops.
5. No one is expecting Devin Hester, but ...: Is there a legitimate punt returner in the house? This is an annual Achilles' heel for the special teams, which hasn't been good in years. Lucky Whitehead, Romar Morris and Frankie Hammond are the leading candidates. My money is on Whitehead, who has made a few would-be tacklers look silly in practice. The Jets need a returner who can shorten the field because, let's face it, the offense will need all the help it can get.