Better. Yes, things were better last night. Nobody wearing Green and White Tebowed in the end zone but the Jets looked more like an NFL team last night. A team that could grow into something with more work and some additional pieces collected along the way.
1 -Way To Go Austin Howard
The best thing to come out of Sunday night was the play of Austin Howard. The new Jets right tackle should have silenced fears about a leaky offensive line thanks to his consistent play throughout. It was so nice to see Mark Sanchez sit comfortably with time in the pocket to throw. The results were clear as completions were made, and chains moved for the first time all summer.
2 – August Injuries Are Never A Good Topic
Now the worst thing to come out of the game. The injuries. First Dustin Keller went down in what we initially joked was an injury that came from being shocked that a ball was thrown to him. Then it was David Harris and finally Josh Baker, who sustained what appeared to be the worst of all the car crashes.
The Jets can ill afford to lose anyone for any amount of time right now. With Keller and Baker banged up, the Jets will have to go to the free agent market and pick up a tight end. Hayden Smith is just not ready for the role and Jeff Cumberland? We can’t figure that guy out. We hope the answer is yes to the FA market notion, and that Tim Tebow WON’T be given a job he’s never had with two weeks until week one.
Jeremy Shockey anyone?
3 – Still No Touchdowns Yet
The Jets STILL haven’t scored TD in 2012. Maybe the Wildcat and Tebow might have helped last night but we will focus here on the passing game near the goal line for now.
Sanchez was solid Sunday night. In fact, thanks to his protection holding up, we were all able to finally assess the WR corps. The answer? There is not enough there right now in our estimation. Especially as the Jets move towards the doorstep of paydirt. We recognize that Santonio Holmes may have had a TD had he held on to a seam pass but hey, that’s what happens when you miss time due to injury. The timing is off.
Stephen Hill caught some balls but seems confused as to what to do after the catch. More telling, Hill reacted to late to a high end zone throw that Plaxico Burress would’ve grabbed easily.
So why not bring back the red zone killer?
This reliance on Hill to lock down WR2 may bite the Jets in the first half of the season. Instead, the Jets ought to sign Plax so they can SURVIVE the first half, as Hill grows into whatever he will grow into this year.
Security. Insurance. Quality play inside the 20. Do it. If not Burress, then at least someone else please.
4 – De-Fense!
The Jets defense did what it will have to do through October. It took it to the other team’s offense. Cam Newton was poised to get rolling but didn’t. Kenrick Ellis, Quinton Coples. In fact the entire defensive line helped make sure that Newton would be pressured and that the Panther run game couldn’t get into gear.
The score was 10-9 Carolina at halftime and that’s what games will have to look like, in order for the Jets to be in position to win them until the offense can show more. Great job by a unit that looked like a real top 5 unit and reminded us of the early Rex Ryan defenses in 2009.
5 – What’s the Prognosis Doctor?
Well, the play of the defense last night now makes us feel better about September. The play of the offense gave us a glimmer of hope that by October, they won’t need to be carried every Sunday. Mark Sanchez showed us that he can make throws given the time. The lack of touchdowns though means that the Jets are still short on playmakers who must be found elsewhere or be made to step up from within. Can Greene Holmes and Keller drive the unit downfield? It’s up to them. They are the big three as of now.
As for special teams and unique players, Tim Tebow is still an unknown as far as what he will bring to the table and that’s not a bad thing. The kicking game appears solid and so does the return game with Joe McKnight. In sum, the Carolina game provided enough to have us now move back off from the ledge. To feel as though this is a playoff bound team however, we need to see more.
Right now the Jets are an AFC bubble team, but the potential is there in many areas for that to change for the better.