The New York Jets opened their 2018 preseason tonight with a win over the Atlanta Falcons 17-0. Most importantly, it was an encouraging debut for rookie quarterback Sam Darnold and newly signed free agent Teddy Bridgewater. Both led first half touchdown drives, which was more than enough for a Jets defense that was flying around all night en route to shutting Atlanta’s offense out.
Sam Darnold finished 13/19 for 96 yards with a touchdown, after taking over early in the second quarter for Bridgewater. After Charles Johnson dropped a should be touchdown pass, was called for offensive pass interference on another touchdown pass, he finally sealed the deal on this pretty third down throw on the run from Darnold.
Darnold’s YPA was not ideal but he was accurate (another incompletion came via an ArDarius Stewart drop) and threw the football well on the run. The Jets generally ran their passing game through their running backs and tight ends, as Neal Sterling paced the team with 4 catches for 38 yards before leaving with an injury. Clive Walford also had 2 receptions for 27 yards, including hauling in Darnold’s second most impressive throw of the night along the sideline for 18 yards, which he delivered under pressure. The Jets are going to need another quarterback who can man fourth quarter garbage time reps for the team so they aren’t risking Darnold late in these preseason games.
Prior to Darnold coming in, Bridgewater took over for Josh McCown after one series. He was a crisp 7/8 for 85 yards with the below touchdown to Isaiah Crowell. Other highlights for Bridgewater included a nice looking seam route to Sterling and a fourth down conversion to Jermaine Kearse.
The Jets have went from Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg throwing pass after pass into the dirt or the opposing team’s hands to two young quarterbacks both performing well. In an ideal world, Darnold is on track to start to week 1 and Bridgewater is on track to be traded for a draft pick before week 1.
— Joe Caporoso (@JCaporoso) August 11, 2018
Elsewhere, the Jets unfortunately sustained injuries to Crowell and Buster Skrine, who was on the kickoff team for some reason (where he got hurt). Skrine has had issues with concussions in recent years and appeared to aggravate that issue tonight. At running back, the Jets are already thin with Eli McGuire out and struggled to run the football in general tonight (32 carries for 75 yards). Kelvin Beachum was replaced by Brent Qvale in the starting lineup at left tackle due to his ongoing leg injury.
Defensively, Derrick Jones continued his strong summer, flashing in coverage particularly in the red zone. Rookie Nathan Shepherd got a good push during his reps and looked like he belonged with the starters. Neville Hewitt paced the Jets with 8 tackles and grabbed an interception off a deflection, while JJ Wilcox and Xavier Coleman both struggled a bit with their downfield coverage.
The Jets are already en route to Washington DC to their week of joint practices with the Redskins before facing off against them Thursday night.