A handful of observations on the New York Jets pre-season opener against the Detroit Lions, which resulted in a 23-3 loss.
1. Let’s start with the few positives: The Jets ran the football well with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, getting a good push from their interior offensive line. Brandon Marshall did something he will need to do plenty of with Ryan Fitzpatrick, caught a short slant and created some YAC. Marcus Williams had an active game that included an interception in the red-zone to end the first half. Despite being out of control to an extent, Lorenzo Mauldin was all over the field and brought some needed speed to the defense.
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick was not asked to do much (and likely won’t be throughout most of the pre-season), he completed a slant, a smoke screen and fluttered a catchable ball to Jeff Cumberland, which was dropped (SHOCKER!). I wouldn’t read too much into the Jets offensive struggles last night because as of 48 hours before this game they expected a full half of Geno Smith and Fitzpatrick and had to adjust to a 4th round rookie, Bryce Petty, playing basically the entire game.
3. Petty, as we’ve been saying since the moment he was drafted, is a project. He looked overwhelmed, tentative and overly conservative in his debut. The Jets will be signing a veteran quarterback in the next few days as they don’t want to put themselves in a position where Petty is one hit away from starting. However, the fourth rounder now has plenty of tape to work off of and should continue to see plenty of pre-season work, which will be important learning for him if he wants to become a factor in 2016.
4. Defensively, the Jets were sloppy last night headlined by missed tackles, most notably from Antonio Cromartie, Demario Davis, Calvin Pryor and Marcus Gilchrist. Davis in particular looked like he put weight on (not in a good way) and appeared a step slow in space. The Jets badly need him, Pryor and Quinton Coples to take the next step this season and all three were quiet or making mistakes last night.
5. The Jets lost Erin Henderson to a leg injury, which is a shame because he appeared active and fluid prior to the injury. Joe Mays and Jamari Lattimore still provide them quality at inside linebacker and potential to push Davis for playing time in certain packages.
6. Dexter McDougle was beat for a long touchdown down the sideline but did respond with two passes defensed. It was the first time he played since week 1 of the 2014 pre-season, it will be a long road back for him but the potential for him to contribute is still there.
7. The Jets have issues with the backup offensive line. You cannot feel confident with Ben Ijalana and Brent Qvale being the first two tackles off the bench. It was a rough night for Dakota Dozier at backup guard as well.
8. Playing time notables: It looks like Willie Colon is your starting right guard. Jeremy Kerley played with the second unit (with Quincy Enunwa starting in the three receiver looks). Jace Amaro barely played and hurt his shoulder. Oday Aboushi’s roster spot may in jeopardy.
9. Other few positives: Nice kick return from Walt Powell. Trevor Reilly and Joe Mays played strong games on defense.