Afternoon of Aug. 8 in Florham Park, New Jersey
Heading into Saturday night’s preseason opener, no one was is leading the quarterback competition. The reason Josh McCown has been getting the first-team reps is because he has run a similar offense before, while with the Bears from 2011-13, and Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty have not. But based on the conversations I had behind the scenes, coaches are still waiting for someone from that group of three to perform well enough in practice to claim the job. The hope is that someone separates himself in the preseason games.
Ultimately, the Jets want to see what Hackenberg can do, and the plan as of Tuesday was for him to get the most run in the preseason (and possibly the regular season, too). But he had yet to win the job outright, so it’s still possible they start the season with one of the other two — assuming one of them plays well enough to earn it.
Aug. 9 in East Rutherford, New Jersey
The concern about left tackle Ereck Flowers is real. I couldn’t wring an outright endorsement out of anyone to whom I spoke. Multiple people told me the team has been impressed with the way Flowers has worked this offseason, spending time around the facility and trimming down, as has been covered elsewhere. But his performances in practice against pass-rushers Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul have left a lot to be desired, and from what I saw, his mopey body language is as bad as ever.
The day I was there, coach Ben McAdoo gave undrafted rookie Chad Wheeler a couple of first-team reps at left tackle. And while that doesn’t signal an outright competition for the starting role, it’s noteworthy that McAdoo wanted to see Wheeler against Vernon in practice, even for a few snaps. If Flowers can’t get the job done, the Giants need to know who they have on their roster who can. They don’t seem eager to move right tackle Bobby Hart over there, and while they believe left guard Justin Pugh can do it, their strong preference is to leave him inside.
The Giants have the highest of hopes this season. And when the Giants hope, they hope higher than anyone. Their defense has a chance to be great, as it was last season. Their offense has a chance to be improved, especially if Brandon Marshall lives up to his history and Evan Engram to his hype. But poor tackle play could cripple the offense’s promise, and the Giants absolutely need Flowers to make progress soon.