FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Monday night’s 20-16 road loss to the Houston Texans could be tossed up as a mixed bag — filled with the good, the bad and the downright ugly. No need to press the panic button just yet. It’s the first pre-season game after the most unusual off-season in recent memory of the NFL. There’s plenty to improve, a couple things to smile at, and a few things that just left you scratching your head.
Rex Ryan was not pleased with the outcome, a loss that ended with rookie quarterback-led drive that stalled in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter. Pre-season or not, Ryan wants to win. If there was a Rocks, Paper, Scissors match to decide who rides shotgun to the corner store, he’d want to win and expect to win that too. But regardless, the first game of the season is chalked up to a loss. Now let’s break down their performance in the very first edition of the Official JetsInsider.com’s Morning After Report of the 2011 unlocked season.
PASSING: B +
- Mark Sanchez couldn’t have looked much better in his two series stint with the starting offense, going 6-for-7 for 43 yards. And after the loss of back-up OL Rob Turner, you saw a whole of hand-offs from the third-year starter. Don’t want to risk injury to the team’s franchise QB.
- Rookie Greg McElroy showed some serious moxy, playing the remaining three quarters and throwing the ball 39 times in his first pro game. Sure the arm strength wasn’t there, as he missed pretty badly on a few deep balls, but he did what he had to do to keep his team in the game. Checking down to receivers and working slant routes on the outside got him into a rhythm. And no turnovers adds to his reputation as one of the smartest guys in the NFL.
- Yes, the o-line was thin going into the season and the injury to Turner doesn’t help. But they went without starters Nick Mangold & Brandon Moore. Second-year lineman Vlad Ducasse looked lost on the field, getting beat a couple of times. He could get someone killed out there.
- TE Jeff Cumberland (6 rec, 77 yards) & WR Patrick Turner (6 rec, 32 yards, 1 TD) are huge targets. Could be solution to poor redzone efficiency from last year.
- Shonn Greene was running real mean last night behind “The Terminator” John Conner. When he ran behind Conner, Greene pulled off runs of 5, 7 and 19 yards. Greene, if healthy, could be in for a big year.
- Second-year RB Joe McKnight, a whipping boy of sorts last year, has looked great in training camp and showed it Monday night averaging 4.8 yards per carry before leaving with possible concussion.
- Rookie Bilal Powell looked impressive tallying 52 total yards on 12 carries. May find small role on offense, especially if McKnight injury is serious.
PASSING DEFENSE: C
- You CANNOT let Matt Leinart light you up on defense. The secondary didn’t get beat often over the top, but were susceptible to the underneath passes and missed tackles.
- The problem last year with the secondary was the safety-on-TE coverage. A glaring weakness last year that the team didn’t do to upgrade in personnel, rather just re-signed the same players. Could be problematic against strong TE teams like the Patriots or Colts.
- The pass rush produced three sacks and one interception, thanks to pressure from rookie DT Kenrick Ellis. A young unit, look for them to grow as season progresses.
RUSHING DEFENSE: B+
- Net rushing yards allowed: 42. ‘Nuff said.
- Houston native and second-year RB Chris Ogbonnaya did cause problems for the defense, however. He totaled 104 yards with 2 scores. What was troublesome for the Jets were the outside ‘backers picking up the running backs out in the flats and out of the backfield.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
- Nick Folk is the starter, but Nick “The Kick” Novak is certainly making a run to have this be a two-man race. He nailed one field from 35-yards out. But Ryan’s faith is still with Folk, who he trotted out in the fourth quarter to try and make a 40-yard go-ahead field goal.
- This was the first game of the pre-season that we saw the majority of kick-offs being returned on Monday. Expect Mike Westhoff to continue this throughout pre-season.
- The punting game wasn’t bad, but the loss of P Steve Weatherford to the crosstown Giants hurts. At times, last season he was their best weapon.
- Nine penalties for a total of 65-yards. Discipline was a problem for this team last year. Can’t give away first downs and free plays like that.
- I like what Tom Moore brings to the table with twin TE sets and properly utilizing his new personnel. Too many times last year I was left scratching my head at how formations and players were used (cough-Wildcat -cough).
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