The New York Jets picked up their first win of the NFL preseason last night by defeating the Atlanta Falcons at home. What started out as a sluggish game for the Jets turned on a big play by rookie Leonard Williams. Simba, as he will be referred to going forward, had a safety that led the Jets to scoring 30 unanswered points. Here are six things that stood out from last night’s game…
6. Bryce Petty improves
The 4th round draft pick looked very much like the project we expected him to look like last week. He was indecisive, displayed poor footwork, and was incredibly inaccurate. However, last night went a long way towards showing what he can do once he gets in a rhythm of sorts. Petty showed off his arm strength a couple of times and delivered throws on a rope to his receivers. He also showed his underrated mobility as he was able to pick up a first down to extend a drive with his legs. A good first step for Petty last night and let’s see how he builds on that next week.
Last week the tackling was an issue, as players repeatedly took poor angles and missed tackles when they did get in the right position. Last night, the defense got burned repeatedly by the Falcons first team offense. Quinton Coples was in coverage on a 60 yard pass play, and then followed that up by not setting the edge properly to allow a touchdown. This was bad, but it was the miscommunication on the touchdown to Leonard Hankerson that was alarming. Tackling you can fix, but the Jets are installing a brand new defense that’s only 40% implemented, according to Todd Bowles. There will be lapses, and Jet fans should prepare for that.
4. The offensive line is going to be a force in the run game.
Willie Colon looks like a brand new player so far through the first couple of series that he’s played with the starters. Nick Mangold is still Nick Mangold. D’Brickashaw Ferguson got beat by Vic Beasley last night, but I promise you he won’t be the only one that that happens to this season. The best part of the OL so far has been James Carpenter. He’s been better than advertised in pass protection, but it’s his run blocking that’s been stellar. He’s routinely been getting to the second level, and he blocked his man about 12 yards away from the field on Chris Ivory’s 33 yard TD run. Before preseason this appeared to be arguably the Jets weakest unit, but through two games they have shown that they can be a strength.
3. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s arm strength severely limits this offense.
When Devin Smith was drafted, the belief was that he’d help stretch the field for an offense that hasn’t had many players do that in recent memory. This was before Geno Smith got hurt. With Fitzpatrick at the helm, the Jets offense is going to have to be methodical and utilize slants and bubble screens to get the ball into the hands of their playmakers. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker excel at getting yards after the catch, so this benefits them the most. However, Fitzpatrick physically cannot throw deep so you’d hope Chan Gailey can come up with creative ways to create big plays because Fitzpatrick’s arm doesn’t allow them to be create the old fashioned way with 9 routes to your WR with deep speed.
2. Jeremy Kerley seems like a forgotten man.
It’s really weird to see the team’s 3rd best wide receiver not get any playing time with the guys he will presumably be playing with. Then again, maybe we were wrong in thinking he’d actually be the third receiver because Devin Smith’s reps went to Chrid Owusu and are now going to Quincy Enunwa. Jeremy Kerley is a good receiver who should flourish in this offense especially with Fitzpatrick at QB, so it’d be good to kick this thing off and see if he’s really not going to be the third receiver in the offense.
I’ve gone on record in saying that Chris Ivory will be a top 5 back this year if healthy. He breaks tackles, he’s improved his catching ability, and he’ll presumably get opportunities in the red zone so his touchdowns should be higher. At 250 carries and his 4.4 yards a carry average, he’d be at 1100 yards. That’s not out of the realm of possibility. Bilal Powell has shown more speed than I ever remember seeing from him, and he actually might just be the change of pace back the Jets envisioned Stevan Ridley being. These two have different styles and compliment each their very well. Last night, thanks to huge holes created by the offensive lines, they both had huge chunk plays. I said above that Devin Smith was drafted to provide this, but he’d have more of an opportunity if Ivory and Powell continue to get them because then that safety starts to creep up a little closer to the line and then it’s bombs away. Ivory and Powell both looked great and continued strong preseasons.