The Jets debut in the annual American Bowl in Tokyo to kick off the 2003 season turned out to be dud as sloppy and inconsistent play resulted in a 30-14 loss to Tampa
If missed your 5AM wakeup for the Jets/Bucs matchup this morning and didnít see the first series of the game, you missed most of the highlights by Gang Green. The Jets starting offense marched down the field on the opening drive and scored the first TD against mighty Tampa defense. The drive was highlighted by a 4-4, 60 Yd performance by Chad Pennington and a long 42 yard bomb to new Jets WR Curtis Conway. After that you pretty much could have rolled over and slept in.
With the exception of a late scoring drive where QB Brooks Bollinger hooked up with hometown hero Yoshi Imoto on a long pass down field, both the Jets offense and defense were flat. The starters left after the first series and the rookies got a good look. Bollinger played the entire game after Pennington sat and besides a few nice throws was shaky. The defense, which consisted of mainly reserves, overall looked like the one that started 2002. Poor tackling and a lack of a consistent pass rush were the two most noticeable factors. The backup offensive line looked bad and had a hard time both run blocking and protecting Bollinger.
Besides the impressive opening drive of the starting offense, there were a few positives during this game. Rookie LB Victor Hobson looked great. Hobson was all over the field and made several nice tackles including a hard sack on Bucs rookie QB Chris Simms. Rookie Ian Smart looked decent at running back and kick returner. He had a 35 yard return in the second half. WR/KR Albert Johnson, who is battling with Smart, also had a nice return for over 30 yards. DB Jamie Henderson had a few nice plays including breaking up a sure long TD pass from Simms late in the game. P Dan Stryzinski had a good game. He had two impressive kicks right in the coffin corner but got no help from his teammates. On both punts, S Tyrone Carter let the ball get by him and roll into the end zone. DT Dewayne Robertson showed some nice explosion on the ball but was double teamed most of the time he was out there. The best news from the game is that no injuries were reported.
The Jets left Tokyo immediately following the game and will be back in NY late tonight. They will get tomorrow and Monday off then resume practice at 8:30 AM on Tuesday. The Jets next exhibition game is next Sunday against the Bengals at Giants Stadium. Kickoff is at 1PM.