The Morning After Report: Late Edition

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Call the second pre-season game of the year what you may — a Super Bowl caliber team showing up to play or simply defeating a team recoiling back into the abyss of the NFL cellar — but the New York Jets looked primed to have another stellar season. Of course, it is important to point out that it is only pre-season and that it was a game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Regardless of the time or the opponent, the Jets did what they were supposed to do on Sunday: beat the teams they are supposed to. Last year they made a regular season out beating opponents they were supposed to: going 9-1 against teams with a record of .500 or worse. And on Sunday they were able to easily hand a defeat to the Cincinnati Bungles — a team who is expected to take a step back, maybe two, this year — despite missing their a slew of the regular starters (i.e. C. Pace, B. Scott, S. Greene, B. Moore, S. Pouha).

Mark Sanchez and the rest of the Jets were all smiles after their 27-7 thwarting of the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, August 21, 2011 at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

PASSING OFFENSE: A

  • Mark Sanchez: 12-20, 170 yards, 2 TDs, 0 TO. Those numbers would have been a standout game for Sanchez for four quarters last year. This year? It’s to be expected. Given it was only a half, Sanchez played extraordinary — highlighted by the perfect touch pass in the corner of the end zone to Plaxico Burress.
  • Speaking of Burress, you saw his rust on his first catch, nearly swallowing the ball. But he looked to be in mid-season form as evidence of his touchdown that has made national headlines– and deservedly so. He may have earned his contract with that catch alone.
  • After giving up 7 sacks against an aggressive Texans defensive front, the offensive line only allowed two this time around. Vlad Ducasse, who did not let his quarterback get decapitated, did have two false start penalties. Much like Wilson at the end of the year, it appears his lack of confidence is visibly affecting his play.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D

  • Yes, the team rushed for 156 total yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry, but the stats don’t always tell the whole story. Most of those numbers are attributed to rookie RB Chris Jennings’ 69-yard scamper.
  • LaDanian Tomlinson (9 rushes, 16 yards, 1.8 YPC) concerns me. He seems to be missing the whole by a split second – which is the difference between five yards and getting stuffed at the line in this league. His leadership and locker room presence may make him invaluable, but thus far his on-the-field performance looks like that of a player who’s beginning to realize the clock will soon strike 0:00 on him.
  • Think Joe McKnight (7 rushes, 36 yards/2 rec, 7 yards, 1 TD) is the same whipping boy that coaches and fans alike harped on during training camp last year? Think again. McKnight may supplant LT as number two on the depth chart sooner than anyone had anticipated.

PASSING DEFENSE: B-

  • Sure it was against a rookie QB on the Bengals, but two interceptions by the safeties Eric Smith and Jim Leonhard quickly set the tone for the game, allowing for two quick scores.
  • The pass rush is still a pause for concern: producing only one sack the entire game. Rex Ryan has talked up his defensive line as a deep unit this year, citing his usage for a 6-or-7 man rotation, but they’re walk has not lived up to Ryan’s talk…yet.
  • Two coverage areas that were problems for Jets defense last year are still lingering in 2011: running backs catching passes in the flat against outside ‘backers and safeties defending larger, athletic tight ends.

RUSHING DEFENSE: A

  • Bungles rushing attack: 24 carries, 50 net yards, 2.1 yards per carry. ‘Nuff said.
  • This is always be my shortest area in breaking down the team as a Ryan defense hardly needs to be critiqued on how to stop the run.
  • Rookie DT Kenrick Ellis is showing more than brute strength in his first two games. Players like Bart Scott said he’s going to need more than just size in this league to dominate. So far, it looks like he’s got the message.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B+

  • If it wasn’t a legitimate kicking competition before, there’s certainly one now. Nick “Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde” Folk has always left a queasy feeling amongst Jets fans, as evidence of him missing a 43-yard FG before nailing a 50-yarder. Nick “The Kick” Novak, thus far, seems to have more of a consistent leg.
  • Jeremy Kerley had six touches on special teams on Sunday. Brad Smith who? ST coach Mike Westhoff loves everything about Kerley and his faith in the rookie from TCU is showing.

COACHING: B+

  • Fantasy owners take notes: Dustin Keller will be a top 10 TE this season. And if the over/under for TDs by Jeff Cumberland is at 6, I just might take the over. Why? Tom Moore’s influence (see Indianapolis Colts dating back the last 5 years).
  • Third-down efficiency seems to still be a thorn on the side for the Jets (5-for-17). A big part of that falls on offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who questionably called running play after running play on third down Sunday.

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