Last night was an encouraging night for the New York Jets. Their offense was unrecognizable in a good way and there was a consistent, aggressive pass rush. Let’s dig into it…
1. The most important thing to takeaway from the game last night is how well Geno Smith played. This was a quarterback who is absolutely night and day from the guy he was at this time last year and resembled an improved version of the productive quarterback he was last December. His footwork was precise. He was decisive when he needed to run, protected the football and threw the football accurately down the field. If Smith plays like he did last night, the Jets offense is going to exceed expectations and they are good enough to be a playoff team in the AFC.
2. The second most important thing is how dominant the Jets looked in the trenches, particularly on the offensive line. Geno Smith had plenty of time in the pocket and the push in the running game was terrific, as they regularly opened up big holes for Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory. This is an offense that wants to run the football and if the offensive line plays like it has most of the pre-season, they will be able to successfully do that.
3. A defensive x-factor the Jets, Quinton Coples had his best performance of the summer last night, finishing with 4 tackles and a TFL. He flashed the dominant athleticism that constantly has Jets fans thinking he should be a double digit sack player in Rex Ryan’s defense. Beyond that, Jason Babin recorded a sack and was regularly in the backfield. Aaron Maybin managed 6 sacks in this defense. If Babin is used properly and effectively, he will be a weekly difference maker.
4. Last night Jace Amaro had a 15 yard reception and a touchdown, Chris Ivory had a 23 yard reception, Chris Johnson had a catch of 19 and 16 yards. Ivory ripped off a 18 and 17 yard run. Johnson had a 17 yard run and nearly averaged 5 yards per carry. Eric Decker had a 27 yard reception and a touchdown. All players have been recent additions by GM John Idzik, who according to some has been cheap, not added talent and is out to get Rex Ryan fired…in other news the moon landing was staged. Last night was a strong showcase for a revamped Jets offense.
5. Some bad news? Antonio Allen suffered a concussion. Let’s hope he can make it back in time for the opener against Oakland. It will be interesting to see how and where the Jets use him when he returns. Decker dropped a gem of a pass from Geno Smith in the end-zone that should have been a touchdown. Zach Sudfeld had a chance for a touchdown from Geno as well but couldn’t come up with the tough catch. Mike Vick botched a handoff for a turnover. The Jets two minute defense was frustrating to watch, although it was LeGuan Lewis who was beat by Reuben Randle for a touchdown and it is doubtful that Lewis even makes the roster. Jacoby Ford muffed a punt.
6. Kyle Wilson continued his putrid pre-season, routinely getting beat like a drum whenever he was targeted. This could be a slight exaggeration but every time Wilson has been targeted this pre-season it has either been a first down reception or a a penalty (he picked up two more last night, including one on special teams). The Jets would be foolish to have Wilson playing major reps, especially with the strong pre-season Ellis Lankster and Darrin Walls have put together and with Dimitri Patterson coming back soon from injury. Wilson seems to have regressed to playing like a chicken with his head cut off at this point.
7. The Jets best approach at the wide receiver position would be the following, keep Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley, David Nelson, Jalen Saunders (health pending), Greg Salas and Saalim Hakim if they keep six receivers. Why Hakim? He can return kicks AND be the team’s top gunner on punt. Jacoby Ford does nothing else and hasn’t done anything of note as a returner this summer. Stephen Hill is no better than the team’s sixth best WR right now and has zero special teams value.
8. Chris Johnson had his second strong game in a row, showing great speed in the open field and nice burst (77 yards on 11 touches). Chris Ivory ran like a bat of out hell off the bench, finishing with 73 yards yards on only 7 touches. When you remember how Bilal Powell looked last week and that Daryl Richardson is on the roster, it is hard not to feel good about the team’s depth at running back heading into September.
9. Jace Amaro took advantage of extended playing for the second straight week, with Jeff Cumberland missing another game. Amaro had 4 catches for 37 yards with a touchdown and again held his own blocking. Zach Sudfeld saw substantial playing time and is likely to remain a big part of the team’s offense going forward.
10. Tough night for rookie Brandon Dixon who was beat deep a few times. He is likely headed to the practice squad along with fellow rookie Tahj Boyd who didn’t play last night, while Matt Simms wrapped up the #3 quarterback job, if the Jets decide to carry three quarterbacks.
11. Ryan Quigley was atrocious last night. The Jets need to take a closer look at the punter position heading into the final week of the pre-season. #FreeSchum?
12. Calvin Pryor was steady in first start last night. He led the team with 5 tackles and had a pass defense. Pryor did take a bad angle on one run from Rashad Jennings but beyond that avoided any mistakes. Darrin Walls allowed a 26 yard grab to Randle but beyond that played very well with the starters, included two passes knocked away and a should have been pick six (CATCH THE BALL, DARRIN!)