There is no need for overreactions to week 1 of the NFL pre-season. There is no also no need to stick your head in the sand and act like the New York Jets offense doesn’t have a hell of a long way to go. When you review the depth chart, when you see them consistently handled in practice by the defense (yes, a very good defense) and then look completely listless in their pre-season opener, it is a valid cause for concern.
There is talent on the offensive side of the football for the Jets. There is hope in a new offensive coordinator whose vision is better aligned with the team’s talent and Rex Ryan’s philosophy but we need to start seeing some kind of production.
Tony Sparano’s comment about the Jets “pushing around” the Bengals was glorified coach-speak. The Jets didn’t push anybody around Friday night. Shonn “the bell-cow” Greene had 11 yards on 5 carries. Mark Sanchez was sacked twice in eight dropbacks and the longest plays of the nights came from a checkdown to Joe McKnight and a scramble by Tim Tebow. It was ugly, little league caliber football.
Yes, the game plan was vanilla but so is everybody’s in the pre-season so let’s stop with the excuses. This unit just isn’t very good right now and has a little less than a month to get their act together.
Where will it come from? The hopes for help at the wide receiver or running back position from outside the team are lowering with each passing day. Improvement will have to come from within.
When it comes to the passing game, the receiver situation is only going to get better. Stephen Hill will improve with the monster share of reps he is receiving in practice and throughout pre-season. He did have a drop on Friday but also pulled in two other nice catches in traffic. In the next couple of weeks Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley will return to the line-up. Holmes is the team’s top playmaker and somebody who can take a 5 yard slant route 50 yards for a touchdown. Kerley, despite a disappointing off-season showed immense potential in the slot last season and will be a third down weapon.
Improved play at wide receiver will help Mark Sanchez get rid of the ball quicker because his receivers will actually be able to get separation. The Jets protection remains shaky at best. They seriously need to consider adding a true blocking tight end because Jeff Cumberland looked comically bad trying to block on Friday. You can’t support inconsistent play at right tackle if you don’t have a blocking tight end to help out.
Tony Sparano will have to get creative to buy Sanchez time in many situations, whether that is rolling him out, increasing his number of 3-step drops and bringing in an extra tackle to play blocking tight end.
In the running game, Tim Tebow is a unique and dynamic weapon to have at their disposal. The “Wildcat” or whatever you want to call it will hopefully provide a needed X-Factor to an offense lacking overall proven big play capability. If Tebow can give the Jets 35-50 yards rushing on a weekly basis it will be a needed supplement to Shonn Greene.
Joe McKnight had an impressive showing Friday night but neither him or Bilal Powell are anywhere near proven. Hopefully one of them can become a factor on outside runs and as a receiver out of the backfield. The Jets desperately need a back who can break a big run because for Greene a big run is 7 yards.
If you are anticipating a high amount games in the 20s and 30s this year you will be sorely disappointed. This Jets offense is not going to light up the scoreboard. With their defense, they may not need to on many weeks but they still need to find ways to produce big plays and touchdowns. Will it be Tebow and McKnight rejuvenating the running game? Will it be Hill and a healthy Santonio Holmes producing more than it expected? Hopefully, it will be some combination of both.