East Rutherford, NJ – Last preseason the focus was on a sputtering offense that couldn’t get the ball into the end zone. The same can’t be said this year.
A week after Mark Sanchez found Jeff Cumberland all alone for a 26-yard touchdown pass, the two connected for a score once again. This time a 23-yard catch on the opening drive against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Jets went on to win 37-13.
But it was not all smiles when the game ended. Probably because it’s only week two of the preseason, and the final score doesn’t mean much. Especially when the presumed starter at quarterback once again made a questionable decision that resulted in an interception. This one wasn’t returned for a touchdown, but occurred in the end zone ending a scoring threat for Gang Green, but we’ll have more on Sanchez’s performance later tonight.
It also didn’t help that the defense came out far from energized. Blaine Gabbert made it look easy tonight, carving up the Jets secondary. Missed tackles sure didn’t help New York’s cause either. The Jaguars are far from a juggernaut offensively, yet they only punted once in the first half.
“Our defensive intensity in the first half I thought was not up to Jets standards,” said Rex Ryan. “You can tell. When the intensity is there we’re gonna tackle, run to the ball, we’re gonna do all those things that epitomize the New York Jets defense. And quite honestly we struggled with that. There’s no question about it.”
Dee Milliner looked like a rookie tonight. He was picked on early and often. This isn’t too shocking, though. Cornerback is a hard position to adjust to in the NFL. Darrell Revis didn’t light the world on fire when he first came in. Tonight was a learning experience for the neophyte, and luckily it came in a preseason game.
“For [Milliner] it’s a learning experience,” said Antonio Cromartie. “For this game, it’s the second preseason game for him and we expect more from him than we saw tonight. That’s something he needs to learn from and he has to come out with a great attitude and get ready for the next week when we get ready to play guys like Hakeen Nicks and Victor Cruz.”
Cromartie didn’t have his best night either, and David Harris looked about as slow as he did last season. Quinton Coples continues to look lost in space. He made his presence known when he had a hand on the ground, but got hurt after batting down a pass and left the game with a leg injury. They’ll run tests tomorrow to see the extent of the injury, but Ryan didn’t have an update on injury after the game.
Granted 37 points probably means there were some positives. Probably the biggest news is the improved play of the offensive line. They looked worlds better than they did last week. There was definitely a drop in the talent level of their opponent, but they looked lights out opening up running lanes, protecting the quarterback, and avoiding the penalties that bogged down the offense last week.
“I liked the way we ran the ball,” said Ryan. “There is no doubt about it. I thought we did a good job running the football, and I liked our protection on offense. Obviously the penalties was another plus. We did a much better job there. We emphasized that, and that was good to see.”
The line opened up plenty of holes for Bilal Powell. He had another big run–a 37-yarder this time–and averaged over 4 yards per carry on his other six carries, which included some looks in the wildcat. He also split out as a receiver on a few plays, and drew a penalty on his one target.
Chris Ivory made his Jets debut tonight. He was far from spectacular, but even getting him on the field is a positive at this point. It wouldn’t be hard for him to improve on this performance next week against the Giants.
At receiver no one really stood out. Clyde Gates was borderline invisible as a receiver, though he had two nice kickoff returns to start the game. Stephen Hill had a nice grab, but then dropped a third down pass…again. Jeremy Kerley was solid, and as previously mentioned Cumberland scored again.
The receiver who stood out the most was probably Braylon Edwards, but he saw very little time with the first team. When did get his opportunity in the second half he made several nice plays.
The most interesting decision of the game was to leave the first-team offense and defense in for the entire first half. The first-team defense even made an appearance to start the third quarter, and Mark Sanchez played until the start of the fourth. Maybe they’ll play the whole game next week.
The Jets (1-1) will look to win back the Snoopy Trophy in the MetLife Bowl next week against the Giants (1-0) back at MetLife Stadium next Saturday at 7.
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