New York Jets Back In Black – “Detroit Duck City”


There’s a few tell-tale signs that the season’s are on the precipice of change: the distinct smell of an over-the-top tailgate, Ray Lucas handing out grades that aren’t in the alpha-numeric system, and the collective groan of a beleaguered fan base as Mark Sanchez throws yet another pick to a lineman, this could only mean one thing: Jets football is back. With it comes a post series that I have been doing for quite some time; during the season I hand out “Game Balls” after every win but since this is the Preseason and the games don’t count, we honor those who had stand-out performances with the Black Jersey. This is a tradition that dates back a couple years now with Rex and the Jets as the unit who performed the best in practice on a given day is rewarded with the black practice jerseys. Anyway, enough from me, let’s jump into it:

Kenrick Ellis:

With his legal troubles finally behind him, the big fella is beginning to emerge as the force that the Jets thought he could be when they spent a Third-Round Pick on him in 2011. Ellis was very strong at the point of attack last night, opening up the rush lanes for the linebackers (whether they were able to take advantage of it is another story entirely). The Jets are banking on him to take that next step in his development this season and anchor the middle of that defensive line, filling the void left by the departure of Sione Pouha.

Austin Howard: 

It comes as no surprise that the offensive line is going to take some time to gel and become a cohesive unit, given that they are indoctrinating two new Guards in Willie Colon and Stephen Peterman. Brick and Mangold were the only real “givens” on this unit and the success of the line would really hinge on the continued development of Right Tackle, Austin Howard. Although the line looked slightly shaky at times, Howard was pretty outstanding in his first game action of the season, leading many a Jets fan to think that we may actually have a player as opposed to his predecessor who was more like a turnstile.

Muhammad Wilkerson: 

What can I say, the guy is just an absolute beast, hence the nickname (Beast Mo). At the rate he’s going, he might become the new Darrelle Revis in terms of this list as the most redundant name because he just brings it game in and game out. Although he only played limited reps, Wilkerson still recorded a sack, which was also his lone tackle of the night but it’s a harbinger of things to come this season.

Third-Drive Sanchez:

After a very appropriate and typical first drive, where he managed to yet again thrown a pick to a defensive lineman, the Quarterback formerly known as the “Sanchise” bounced back and methodically marched the offense down the field for a touchdown on the team’s third drive. On that drive, Sanchez was 5-5 with a nice pass to Jeremy Kerley, who did a great job of getting open and a Touchdown pass to a wide-open Jeff Cumberland. His night as a whole wasn’t too pretty but its what we’ve come to expect from Sanchez.

Kellen Winslow:

The thing that landed Winslow on this list was that he played in a game and managed not to get hurt and for that alone he deserves to be here. That said, he did have a pretty good game, showing that he still has some play-making ability as he hauled in a couple of passes for 30 yards, including a 24-yard “catch and run” along the left sideline. However, his biggest play of the night was the hit he laid on Lions’ Safety, Glover Quinn, breaking up what would have almost certainly been another Mark Sanchez interception. With his soldier days behind him, Winslow could add some play-making ability to a unit that has been bereft of any for quite some time.

Honorable Mention:

Greg McElroy:

With many speculating that he would be supplanted by Matt Simms as the Jets Third Quarterback, McElroy has shined both in practice and on game day as it appears the job is now his to lose. The Alabama-product showed some nice poise and pocket presence especially on his 11-yard Touchdown-pass to Zach Rogers.

Tommy Bohannon:

Although you won’t see much from him on the stat sheet (1 Reception for 2 Yards) Bohannon had a more-than-solid game as a blocker, lining up both at Fullback and H-Back in the Shotgun set. The Jets see him as a Tweener ala Josh Baker and I’m betting his versatility and blocking ability will make him tough to cut.

Coach Wants to See You (Bring Your Playbook):

For every guy that had a stand-out performance/made plays there are a slew of players who screwed the proverbial pooch. During the season, we usually make these guys do a little extra running by having them “Take A Lap!” but during the preseason it’s a little more cut-throat around here with guys fighting to make the team so let’s see who’s going to be cleaning out their lockers:

Antwan Barnes:

Maybe it was the crowd noise or maybe it was that he was chomping at the bit to get back on the field but the pass-rushing Outside Linebacker was a little too antsy last night and was flagged for two Offsides penalties. Barnes did flash some of that pass-rushing ability that helped him notch 11 Sacks in 2011 but boneheaded plays will cancel that out almost every time.

Zach Rogers:

Overall, not the worst performance but there’s no excuse for dropping a perfectly thrown pass by Greg McElroy, the thing literally hit him in the breadbasket and that had six points written all over it. With the Jets incredibly thin at Wide Receiver, it’s guys like the Zach Rogers and Ryan Spadola’s of the world that need to take advantage of opportunities like those if they want a shot at making this team.

Rest of Game Sanchez:

It’s a classic case of same “you know what,” different day with Sanchez, after what was the most Sanchez-esque ways to start a game: throwing a pick-six to a rookie defensive lineman. I, like probably a host of other Jets fans was willing to end the competition right there and then. There is just simply no discernible growth, year after year it’s the same mistakes if he can’t figure it out after five years, he probably never will. That said, say hello to your Week One starter Jets fans, hopefully he can begin to figure out how to stop making bone-head plays between now and then.

And on a side note, he looks absolutely ridiculous with the headband and the goatee.

  • JetOrange

    Ellis is not a true NT, but the Jets did not play a strict 3-4 ,playing a little off center allowed Ellis to penetrate and disrupt, this defense has not come together yet, but it has some great pieces. I understand that Peterman is now alternating with Ducasse, not a great sign, my hope is that if Peterman does not start, that he can backup at Center and both Guard positions. The Detroit game confirmed to me , that Marty was the best acquisition of the off season. Hope

  • KAsh

    I am a bit surprised that Aboushi did not get a mention. You cited Barnes for two neutral zone infractions; Aboushi just seemed to be an endless tract of offside and holding penalties. He is a rookie, so you might expect it from him, but still.

  • Angel

    I’m about to lose my shit with this article. Most of it is decent and we can legitimately disagree or quibble with a couple observations, BUT giving AUSTIN HOWARD A BLACK SHIRT to honor a stand-out performance?!?!?!? Ri-goddamn-diculous!

    Watching the game again briefly [condensed version on PreSeason Live – an awesome app] allow me to ‘highlight’ Austin Howard’s performance:

    1. First offensive play of the game: He’s pushed back into Mark Sanchez standing at the goal line, potentially giving up a safety. Mark rushes his throw, incomplete to Bilal Powell.

    2. Second play of the game: Inside give to Bilal Powell and Austin drives the defender [55 Tulloch] into Powell, helping his momentum and aiding in the Tackle. Austin should get credit for and assist here.

    3. The INFAMOUS INT to Ziggy Ansah: Beat by an inside spin move, he lets #79 Willie Young in Sanchez’ face. The screen fails to develop [the FB #40 stumbles – actually tackled] because Sanchez can’t hold on to the ball another second. Instead of Sanchez throwing it away into the dirt, or eating a sack, he PANICS and throws the ball weakly [while falling backwards] and it’s an easy pick for Ansah.


    DO IT!

    4. Second possession 3rd and 17 [BTW, who many times was Mark in 3rd and long?!? It’s not even funny.]: Guess who? Willie Young #79 fights through a half assed chip shot to get in Sanchez’ face, AGAIN, and Sanchez is forced to dump it off to Kerley, short of the first down. End of drive.

    Third possession drive, Austin Howard gets away with a false start [rocking back in his stance] and an obvious hold on Suh during a short Bilal Powell run.

    5. Third Possession 1st and 20: Austin is beat again, overpowered. With Willie Young #79 in his hip pocket, Sanchez is quick on the draw enough to throw a strike to Cumberland for the TD… just as Young hits his feet.


    It doesn’t end there, but I think this is enough. He even ended Geno’s first drive. Willie Young turns Austin Howard around like a LITERAL TURNSTILE. It was so easy his forward momentum met no resistance and Willie fell down. He then got back up, continued forward and smacked Geno’s pass into the turf… DENIED!

    MEANWHILE – ZERO mention on how RT #79 J.B. Shugarts kicked ass. He played a pretty flawless game. Now… it could have everything to do with the quality of competition, but I thought he did damn good.

    Oday Aboushi looked like a clown. Honestly, he got tossed around like a rag doll SEVERAL times.


    I encourage all of you writers at TOTJ to put your feelings for Austin Howard aside and take an HONEST and objective look. I’m convinced he is a friend of the site and you guys and that’s why you hype him. I have nothing against the guy, he is probably a very nice guy, probably a very cool guy, but… C’Mon Man!!

    It’s either this guy gets his shit together and learns how to pass-block, or kick his giant ass off the f-ing team!

  • Drew


    After reading your post I went back to see for myself (preseason live) and your analysis is spot on. He looks both slow and clueless.

    Looking at the pick-6 I noticed two players who deserve more responsibility than Mark.

    1) Austin Howard – As Angel mentioned Willie Young uses a spin move and Austin Howard wiffs. Young forced the off balanced throw.

    2) Bohannon – The guy looked like he was the coaches son in this play. Almost as though he had no business being on the field. He was hesitant to get to his spot for the screen and got eaten up by the DT. He winds up on the ground and the play had no hope from the start.

    Luckily it was the first preseason game and we have time to straighten these things out. Lions have one extremely talented D-line so its no surprise they created havoc.

  • Angel

    @Drew – Amen brother!

    I really want a response from the TOTJ crew. I just want to be reassured that they can see this stuff objectively, and that the Austin Howard fan club has disbanded.

    C’mon guys, I respect your crew and your brand of journalism more than the Mainstream Media–especially Cimini and Mehta. I just need to hear you all have your heads on straight.

  • matr dontelli iii

    first, let me state that i respect the hell out of this site and its writers. second, i didn’t see the play in question but i believe i heard the radio call as well as description afterwards. wasn’t the pass rogers dropped under thrown and behind him where he had to stop and wait for the ball? if i’m wrong i apologize but if i’m correct that would be a far cry from a perfectly thrown pass not to mention a description really not up to par with the rest of the writing on this site. please keep it real. we depend on you guys. if we wanna read exaggerations we’ll go to the clown media for that.

  • KAsh

    Rogers dropped several passes. It was an up-and-down night for him, kind of like it was for Sanchez. At times, he looked good, ran good routes, and had good catches, capped off by his TD. At other times, he dropped balls that should have been caught or reeled in.

    On Howard, I am not an expert on the o-line. During the game, I had my eyes mostly on the QBs and receivers. Plus, the line is sometimes complicated with who is responsible for which pass rusher. That said, I was surprised at how little time our QBs had to throw the ball. I remember one instance where the left corner came in for a blitz. Untouched. Sanchez dumped the ball off to Powell, who the blitzing corner was matched up against but it resulted in just a 2 yd gain.

  • John C

    Barnes had several good rushes, including flushing the quarterback, resulting in the sack credited to Coples – I had to look to see who 95 was when I saw him get pressure on several plays – I’ll admit, I did not pay as much attention to the offsides penalties.

    Aboushi was abominable.

    Rogers didn’t have to stop for the one he dropped that was in his breadbasket, but he did have to slow down slightly, and probably would not have scored, but he still should have caught the ball.

    Backup O-Line was O-ffensive.

    Wilson and Walls must learn to turn to see where the ball is (probably won’t happen if it hasn’t entering year 4)

    McElroy did well (overall probably the best of the three QBs), but was roughed up on one hit, and I wasn’t sure he’d return – to his credit he did, but, I think he is fragile like Pennington

    If they stay healthy, Winslow and Cumberland will cause the Jets to play a lot more two-Tight end sets

    RB will be a big problem if Ivory, Goodson and (maybe) McKnight don’t come back, or don’t stay healthy

    Spadola had a drop that would have been a great catch, but he may have left his feet too soon

  • John C

    p.s. Tj Rosenthal had a much more positive spin on Barnes, as did I. He was active, and in no way should expect a visit from the Turk