With two weeks of the preseason gone, narratives are starting to take shape. Some concerns worthy, others not so much. Some players are grabbing the right kind of attention, but how merited is it really? The game in Washington was largely a sloppy performance with few standouts. How much can we really take from it? Is the Jets defense in trouble? Is Robby Anderson going to make the roster? Why hasn’t Geno Smith been cut yet? Let’s discuss.
Marcus Williams has a rough night.
Concerning. Williams is one of several young Jets players who looked promising in occasional action last season and was then expected to carry it into a more significant role in 2016. Two weeks into the preseason and Williams has been getting the wrong kind of attention. Colt McCoy constantly picked on him last week and he gave up a touchdown pass as well. The big picture concern here is that neither Williams nor Milliner have staked a legitimate claim to be the third CB on the field after Skrine and Revis, leading to questions overall of the depth quality at corner. Milliner like clockwork raised concerns over his durability in this game too. Rookie Juston Burris might end up seeing the field earlier than expected after some positive moments, but at this point it would be coming earlier than Burris is truly ready for.
Once again, Jace Amaro fails to impress in extended action.
Becoming a problem. In last week’s action the argument could be made that Amaro had already disappointed, but there was enough gray area to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all it’s been a solid camp and he does look more fluid and polished as a route runner. After the game in Washington however, there are real questions about Amaro’s ability to perform when it counts. Catching two passes for just 11 yards, Amaro’s numbers could have been one of the highlights of the night if he had made the plays that were offered to him. Right now though, he’s a player that makes you wonder whether he truly has the concentration, toughness and game-day intensity to be a consistent contributor on this offense. He needs to put forth a more encouraging performance in the next two weeks.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has an unproductive outing with starters.
Not a big deal. Even though Fitzpatrick decided to spend most of his free agency styling himself as a bearded Beavis at the expense of keeping himself in football shape, there shouldn’t be much worry about a veteran starter not standing out in limited preseason snaps. There was always going to be rust, but by the time opening day rolls around Fitzpatrick should be as good as a Ryan Fitzpatrick can be. With that said, there is some pressure to deliver a solid outing this Saturday. FItzpatrick’s 2015 preseason was somewhat quiet until the Giants matchup, where he highlighted a sharp overall performance with two touchdown passes. It’s called the regular season dress rehearsal for a reason – the Jets starters as a whole should be taking this more seriously than the first two games.
The Bryce Petty and Geno Smith performances mean there is now a backup QB competition.
No. Is Bryce Petty giving the Jets brass something to seriously think about as it pertains to roster management and planning for the future? Yes. Can the argument be made that Geno Smith’s lackluster preseason is crushing any small hope that he still has the potential to be a success with the Jets long term? Sure. But by signing Fitzpatrick to a one-year deal, the Jets are making a statement about playoff ambitions in the short term. Fitzpatrick has a play style that makes him more susceptible to big hits than the standard NFL quarterback. He missed a game last season, and joined the Jets via trade in the spring of last year while nursing a broken leg. If playoffs in 2016 is key, then the backup quarterback needs to be a player with starting experience. Bryce Petty, with one good performance as the third quarterback in a preseason game, cannot be anointed as ready for such a responsibility. Whether people like him or not, keeping Geno Smith as the backup quarterback is in the best short-term interest of this team. As said earlier, Petty to his credit is putting the Jets brass in the difficult position of how to best manage the short-term while also planning for life after Fitzpatrick. But that isn’t going to mean the Jets are comfortable in being able to win with Bryce Petty in the regular season if necessary.
The first team defense continues to give up big yardage.
Not a big deal. How the Jets have played preseason defense under Bowles has not been fun to watch, but it isn’t much of a cause for concern. It has been clear there is very little done in terms of scheming for opponent, a specialty of Bowles and his staff. As expected there has also been missing key pieces. Muhammad Wilkerson has yet to play. Darrelle Revis did not play in the first game. We saw the same thing early on last year, and fears were eased by a nice performance against the Giants last year. I expect we will see the same. In the end, this was a top five defense according to Football Outsiders last year. The only noticeable loss was Damon Harrison, and yet the line remains one of the best in the league with Leonard Williams looking especially ready to make a monster jump forward.
Ross Martin misses a PAT.
It’s over. Nick Folk has by no means won the competition by running away with it, but Ross Martin has struggled too greatly the first two weeks. He entered FedEx Field last week with a low margin for error after missing two field goals against Jacksonville. I expect Folk will see the majority of opportunity this Saturday, and with a solid performance this competition will officially be over.
Robby Anderson has a big game at receiver.
Worth monitoring. The Jets clearly like what they have in Jalin Marshall and Charone Peake, but Robby Anderson made the coaching staff take notice with an eye-catching display last Friday. As Joe mentioned on twitter a few days ago, there is an archetype for what Chan Gailey looks for in a receiver that Peake and Anderson fit more so than Jalin Marshall. More specifically, the offense expects to have a deep threat amongst the first three receivers (Devin Smith role) to stretch the field which is what Anderson did to shine against Washington. This is nothing new for Anderson, as he was a big-play receiver at Temple with a penchant for the spectacular grab but with some concentration issues. If he can make another positive impression the next two weeks though, it isn’t out of the question for the Jets to value Anderson more highly than Peake given the latter’s injury history. As for Marshall, pure receiving displays can only help his case but ultimately he’ll be judged on whether he’s worth keeping around for special teams over Jeremy Ross.
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