New York Jets – Further Reaction From 2018 Preseason

Clayton Smarslok with thoughts on the New York Jets through three preseason games and an updated 53 man roster projection…

Following the Jets 22-16 loss in the Snoopy Bowl to the New York Giants last night we are unofficially officially done with the preseason. We all know that week 4 is mainly for the players that are fighting for their NFL lives, whether it be for the Jets or another team that scoops them up after the final roster cuts. With that being said, we have seen all that we have needed to see thus far to get ready for week 1 of the regular season against the Detroit Lions.

Sam Darnold

Through the three games, Darnold has played in 17 drives, 10 with the starters. In total he was 29/45, passing for 244 yards to go along with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. The numbers won’t stand out at first glance but you must look beyond the numbers.

The most important thing was that he has an understanding of the playbook. Check. We needed to see he wasn’t being careless with the ball whether it be under duress or as a passer. Check. Quite frankly, the best thing to see in these games was that he did not look like a prototypical rookie. Darnold took what he was given and did what was asked of him. If he made a mistake, he made sure not to do it again, something we haven’t seen a Jets quarterback do in some time. No, he has not been perfect in the preseason and believe it or not he won’t be in the regular season either, but he has done more than enough to be under center in Detroit and for the fans to be excited about the position for once.

Where is the running game?

As little as the Jets did for Sanchez to help him succeed during his tenure, there is no denying they gave him a  top notch running game to help him as he was coming into the league. The same cannot be said for the situation they are putting Darnold into. As poor as the running game has looked, I’m pretty confident in saying I don’t think it’s because of the running backs. While Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell aren’t amazing by any stretch, they are still respectable running backs. It has been the offensive line that cannot get any push for these two to create any plays. Between Powell and Crowell, neither have averaged more than 3 yards a carry in any of these games, which is underwhelming to say the least. No, they have not played with the starting five together yet but it has been a disaster nonetheless. If they fail to generate any running lanes for these backs, the defenses won’t have to worry about stacking the box, leading to a more difficult time for Darnold. I’d be shocked to see any of the starters on the line play next week, so hopefully they can get as much rest as possible to be ready for the season.

Big Ticket Signings

I think the Jets got themselves two players in Avery Williamson and Trumaine Johnson. With Demario Davis leaving and not having a ton of talent at cornerback, these two guys are going to pay huge dividends for the defense this season. Williamson has shown he isn’t just a two down backer and can play on third down in coverage, making some nice plays specifically covering the running backs against Washington. Then last night he goes and makes one of the biggest plays of the night, ripping the ball out of the hands of Jonathan Stewart near the goal line. Trumaine Johnson on the other hand is needed now more than ever if the other cornerbacks (Morris Claiborne and Buster Skrine) keep playing like they did against the Giants. Johnson has continued to show he was worth the money he was given in March. He wasn’t targeted all too much but one play that stood out was doing what the other corners couldn’t do and that was cover deep, pretty much being Cody Latimer’s shadow on a deep pass in the 2nd quarter last night.

Darron Lee

I wanted this to be Lee’s year so badly, I truly did, it just isn’t looking like it will turn out that way. He has been inconsistent throughout his career having mostly poor games and then having others where he looks like the first round pick Maccagnan drafted. Unfortunately, those kinds of games don’t turn up as much as we’d all like. It’s been more of the same thing this preseason, struggling with coverage, especially against tight ends getting burnt yet again last night by Evan Engram only to be bailed out by a terrible pass by Manning.

Lee’s athleticism alone should make him at least an adequate linebacker in this league but he hasn’t even shown that he can be that. His IQ has not seemed to improve going into his third year which leads to the question, will it ever? This season will have a big say on whether or not the Jets decide to pick up his fifth year option. As of this moment, I find it hard to believe they would pick it up. For the team and for his sake, I really hope he can figure it out so he can play in those new jerseys he so desperately wanted.

Same thing, different year

First thing’s first… Does anybody know if Mike Westhoff is interested in coming back? It is absurd how long it has been since the Jets have had a special teams unit even remotely close to decent. The coverage team is putrid, Trenton Cannon has fumbled three times in two games, the opening day kicker might not even be on the roster, which means Lachlan Edwards might be the best special teams player they have and he’s always good for a couple shanks.

Since Westhoff has been gone, it’s been year after year of disgust and none of the 429 coordinators they’ve tried since have made any kind of difference. What really doesn’t help is the fact that our special teams ace, Rontez Miles, is down with an injury and will start on the PUP list.

It’s tough to win in the NFL, so when one of the three facets is consistently playing poorly you are not doing yourselves any favors. Something has got to change whether it’s firing Brant Boyer, getting new players after the roster cuts or what. All I know is that it will likely be another rough year to watch the special teams.

Clay’s 53 Man Prediction Post Week 3

QB: Sam Darnold, Josh McCown (2)

HB: Bilal Powell, Isaiah Crowell, Eli McGuire, Trenton Cannon, Lawrence Thomas (5)

WR: Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Jermaine Kearse, Terrelle Pryor, Andre Roberts, Tre McBride (6)

TE: Chris Herndon, Neal Sterling, Eric Tomlinson (3)

OL: Kelvin Beachum, James Carpenter, Spencer Long, Brian Winters, Brandon Shell, Brent Qvale, Travis Swanson, Jonothan Harrison, Dakota Dozier (9)

DL: Leo Williams, Nathan Shepherd, Henry Anderson, Steve McClendon, Mike Pennel, Xavier Cooper, Foley Fatukasi (7)

OLB: Jordan Jenkins, Frankie Luvu, Brandon Copeland, Josh Martin (4)

ILB: Avery Williamson, Darron Lee, Kevin Minter, Neville Hewitt (4)

CB: Trumaine Johnson, Morris Claiborne, Buster Skrine, Daryl Roberts, Derrick Jones, Parry Nickerson (6)

S: Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Doug Middleton, Terrance Brooks (4)

K: Jason Myers

P: Lachlan Edwards

LS: Thomas Hennessey