New York Giants – 35, New York Jets – 24: Ten Observations

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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!)

  • https://www.facebook.com/ronbo19 Ron Alexander

    I agree with most of your post but as far as the battle in the trenches I’m not sure. Yes we ran the ball well and we me kept Geno upright for the most part but Brian Winters continues to be a penalty waiting to happen and there were an awful lot of runs that were stopped at the line of scrimmage or in our backfield.Defensively, we make a lot of great stops at or behind the line of scrimmage but there were also quite a few long runs where we missed tackles or failed to get off blocks. I don’t think we were poor in any facet but we did not dominate on either side of the ball either.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    I agree Geno looks like a completely different QB this year. If he continues to improve over the course of the season, this offense will actually be fun to watch.

    I do not see any of the improvement that Hill’s legion of supporters claim he has made & was showing earlier in training camp, nor do I see any reason for the team to continue to invest in attempting to develop him into a NFL-caliber WR. At this point, it is clear to me he lacks the athleticism &/or desire to actually improve. I also find it shocking the team continues to give Gates targets (& playing time?) ahead of Enunwa (or anyone). Simms looked very angry that Gates dropped that pass late in the game. How could anyone associated with the team be surprised to see him drop a pass???

    It was definitely encouraging to see a pass rush from the front 7. I wonder if Wilson looks worse this preseason because QBs are targeting him over the outside CBs now that ‘overwhelmed rookie’ Dee & ‘gimpy, bad hip’ Cro are not playing.

  • Dan

    I agree 100%. Good take.

  • Frank Antonelli

    John C wrote that Coples should be demoted! LOL.

    My Coples Runneth Over — Quinton Coples had a standout performance after getting just a few reps a week ago. A lot has been written about Coples and whether he can make the leap this year. I can’t predict if he will hit double-digit sacks in 2014, but I do know that he’ll be a key contributing factor to the success of this defense whether it shows up on the stat sheet or not. Last night proved as much.

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  • Stevesc

    Joe, a lot of positives last night as you and some here have mentioned. The one thing that can wipe out all of these positives is the defensive secondary. I don’t know how they can survive in games 2 thru 6 with all the injuries. I’ve never seen a team so snake bitten at one position as the Jets have been this preseason. Even if some of the injured (Milliner, Patterson, and now Allen) are back by the start of the season, it’s going to take some time for them to get caught up. It may be a brutal start to the season. IMHO.

  • http://twitter.com/Ferraro41 Ron Ferraro (@Ferraro41)

    I agree re:the secondary..injury-wise, they seem to take one step forward then two steps back. One or two injuries, ok…but you now start to worry that this is going to be a season-long trend, making it hard to develop any chemistry in the back end due to a revolving door of personnel. I hope that’s not the case, but we’re trending dangerously in that direction.

    That said, and putting health aside for a moment, I’d love to see a starting secondary of Pryor & Allen at the safeties, with Walls and Milliner on the outside, and Patterson in the slot where he’s much better suited and can’t be worse than Kyle Wilson. Well, to be fair, a traffic cone would be more effective than Kyle Wilson, but I digress.

    Really curious to see what they do at WR. There are those who believe there is no way the Jets give up on Hill yet, as you can’t teach size and speed. IMO, that is a laughable and simplistic view. The guy has shown almost zero improvement since his rookie year..as Joe has pointed out (with video!) numerous times, he still runs lazy routes, still catches the ball with his body rather than his hands, still “attacks” the ball passively, rather than aggressively dominating smaller men who are covering him. Some guys are great physical specimens who just can’t play football…I think it’s clear that HIll is likely one of them. If he is kept over Salas, lots of Jets fans are going to go non-linear, and rightly so.

  • John C

    Glad I could make Frank A chuckle, regarding demoting Coples.

    It’s not as if I think Coples is a bust, or will lose all of his reps, or be cut… My point was that he could lose reps, if he doesn’t step up his game, and Barnes comes back healthy. Many wanted to diminish Calvin Pace’s 11 sacks last year, because he was just “cleaning up” after the DL forced a QB out of the pocket – well Coples did not even do that. Third year in, it’s time to play, from Game 1, not from Game 11 (which as I said before, is when Coples started playing the last two years). I’m not alone with this thought either – others have stated that Rex might be sending a message with the acquisition of Babin. This post from the latest 12 Pack, also shows I’m not alone in this regard:

    “8. Let’s keep an eye on Quinton Coples tonight who has had a quiet summer. Rex Ryan has spoken about and actually given more work to Jason Babin with the first team defense. Is he trying to send a message or could we see Coples playing time cut back a bit? Either way, the Jets need a pass rush from their first team defense, particularly against a shaky Giants offensive line and a struggling Eli Manning. ”

    Without a doubt, Coples has flashed a lot of potential – but, as with Stephen Hill, the third year is the time to start doing it, and doing it consistently.