FIRST TEST PASSED. Although he didn't lead the offense to any touchdowns, Chad Pennington looked confident and sharp in his first action since his second shoulder surgery.
And so begins the preseason schedule for the new look NY Jets and their rookie head coach Eric Mangini. Surprisingly, the team looked very sharp to start the game, at least in some areas. QB Chad Pennington started the game after a week when everyone was wondering who would start the first preseason game and why it was taking Mangini so long to name a starter.
Pennington had a solid outing in his first game action since last September. He went 9/14 for 54 yards. Although he didn’t throw the ball deep he had a great short game, completing passes to WR Laveranues Coles and WR/KR Tim Dwight, who made two great third down catches.
Pennington’s arm was strong and had zip when releasing the ball into a Tampa Bay defense that has been ranked in the top ten every year for almost a decade. Pennington did have some mistakes, fumbling the football twice but the team only lost possession on one of the fumbles as the Tampa Bay defense blitzed and just ran over Pennington. Pennington also played a lot more than expected. He played for over 17 minutes of the game before turning the reigns over to rookie QB Kellen Clemens. Pennington said that the team, “did some good things” and he also felt good about having “two 13 play drives…but we just needed to score.” He added, “we have to learn from our mistakes and watch the tape.”
Clemens, who was expected to be the Jets number three quarterback before Mangini’s “open competition” surprisingly got to be the second quarterback in the field instead of QB Patrick Ramsey who the team traded for with the Washington Redskins during the off season. Mangini said that every quarterback “needs some work” and as the team moves on this preseason, “we will continue to try to focus and execute and get better as a football team and as an organization.” It might only be the first pre-season game and fans shouldn’t look into it too much, but it is odd that you trade for Ramsey and sign him to an additional year for him to be fighting most likely for the number two spot in the depth chart at quarterback.
Clemens played very well during his time on the field especially during the last two minutes of the first half. He took the team down field and set up K Mike Nugent with a chip shot from 20 yards before the half ended. The key to the drive was the time management by Mangini and Clemens.
The team used the clock and their only remaining time out so effectively that if Clemens hadn’t played so cautiously on one play the team would have gone into the half with the lead. Clemens had a chance to run the ball into the end zone with only a few seconds remaining, but it looked as if he held back from running at full speed. Clemens finished 12/17 for 92 yards before turning the ball over to Ramsey with less than nine minutes left in the game.
The two first round picks by the Jets in the April draft also had a decent first game besides a false start by C Nick Mangold very early in the game. Mangold and T D’Brickashaw Ferguson worked well together with G Pete Kendall creating a running lane for RBs Derrick Blaylock and Cedric Houston.
The one big problem that the Jets need to work on is their run defense. Switching to the 3-4 defensive scheme looked like a big mess in the first game. The Jets gave up almost two hundreds on the ground and over four hundred yards of total offense, while not causing one turnover or recording one sack. The one positive from the defensive side of the ball was CB/KR Justin Miller who had two huge hits on Buccaneers RB Michael Pittman, knocking the ball loose on the first big hit.
This fumble gave fans a chance to look at some of the new rules implemented by the NFL this year. After the fumble occurred, players were arguing over whether it was fumble or not and originally it was not ruled a fumble. Unlike last year though, teams can challenge a play even after an official blows a whistle and a call is made on the field. The referees looked over the tape and changed their ruling to say that it was a fumble, but possession of the ball was not so easy for the refs to figure out. The final outcome was that the Jets lost the possession because the refs couldn’t figure out who ad possession of the ball after Pittman lost it even though you could clearly see that it was all green and white near the football after it came loose.
The Buccaneers took control in the second half as they continued to run the ball down the Jets throat and amassed a tremendous amount of time of possession and kept Mangini from giving QB Brooks Bollinger a chance to go in and work with the offense. Except for a missed extra point after their second touchdown the Buccaneer offense looked good especially with rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski, who went 11/13 for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
-RB Curtis Martin did not make the trip with the team to Tampa Bay.
-The Jets had six penalties in the game for only 31 yards, two of which were delay of game penalties that Mangini used to try to get the Buccaneer players to jump off sides to get a first down.
-The Jets led at the half in time of possession 17:17 compared to 12:43 for the Buccaneers, but in the second half, the team only had the ball for 6:37.
-WR Jerricho Cotchery led all Jet receivers in yardage with 36 yards on 3 catches.
-No more secret anymore regarding DT Sione Pouha’s injured knee. The second year player who was expecting to have a breakout season had knee surgery and was officially placed on IR. The loss leaves a big deficit in depth on the Jets’ defensive line.
-LB Victor Hobson had a great game almost intercepting two passes that seemed to be thrown for him to catch and not a Buccaneer receiver.
-CB/KR Drew Coleman (knee): day to day
-TE Jason Pociask (shoulder): IR Out for Season
-RB Curtis Martin (knee): on PUP list
-C Trey Teague (ankle): on PUP list
-WR Dante Ridgeway (leg): day to day
-DT Sione Pouha (leg): IR Out for Season
-CB Erik Coleman (illness): 1-2 weeks
-CB David Barrett (groin): day to day
The team has a day off tomorrow then returns to camp on Sunday for two practices. Be sure to check back to JI for all the latest NY Jets news!