Detroit, MI – The Jets dropped their first preseason game tonight, 26-17, to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. On the Jets first drive Mark Sanchez threw a pick to Detroit’s first-round pick, Ziggy Ansah, which the rookie promptly returned for the first score of the game. The Lions never relinquished the lead.

Rex Ryan got his first look at his team in game action

But that wasn’t the story of the game. In fact, Sanchez regrouped and led the team on an 80-yard touchdown drive just a couple of possessions later. No, the story of tonight’s game was injuries and penalties.

A trend that started at the Green and White Scrimmage less than a week ago reared its ugly head once again. Offensive penalties—including holdings and false starts— hindered the Jets progress. The Jets are not a strong enough offensive team to be able to consistently overcome these issues. Perhaps it’s just a new group of guys getting used to each other, but it is a situation worth monitoring. It’s been a problem to start the season.

On the injury front, John Griffin, and more importantly, Geno Smith, were taken out early.

Griffin is another name to add to the questions at running back. So far Mike Goodson has yet to report, Chris Ivory is still dealing with hamstring issues, and Joe McKnight is recovering from a head injury.

Bilal Powell has been getting the majority of touches at running back. Tonight he was a little underwhelming, but managed to have some nice plays. While he has been having a nice camp so far, the Jets really need the guys above him on the depth chart to get back and contribute.

For Smith, the injury doesn’t appear to be too serious. It’s even possible he’ll be ready to practice when the team returns to Cortland on Sunday. Problem is, he didn’t show a ton in the time he was given.

Smith started camp out strong. The last week, however, has been a challenge for the former Mountaineer. He didn’t look much sharper tonight, and if the injury causes him to miss any practice time the starting job is probably going to go to Sanchez.

As for Sanchez, once he got settled and had time to throw he looked solid. He completed 10-of-13 passes for 125 yards to go along with the touchdown and interception.

He clearly has a stronger grasp of the offense, but the interception is still a problem. Sure he outplayed Smith, but the pick makes you worry because of the turnover issues the guy has had throughout his career. It also gives credence to the idea that he struggles to handle pressure. With the rush bearing down on him Sanchez once again made a foolish mistake. He looks better than Smith at this point, but is he ready to put last season behind him?

Sanchez’s touchdown pass was snagged by tight end Jeff Cumberland. Cumberland was wide open on the play, but didn’t have a catch the rest of the game. Kellen Winslow dressed and had two catches of his own. It’s no secret that if he stays healthy for the Jets, he will be the starting tight end come week one.

Clyde Gates continued his strong play. He had three catches in this game while mostly playing with the first team. He isn’t the second coming of Santonio Holmes, but he continues to stand out for Gang Green this season. While it’s hard to gauge him against the better receivers in the NFL, he has arguably been the Jets best receiver so far in camp.

Defensively the team looked strong. They held Matthew Stafford to 3-of-8 passing for 58 yards, and only gave up a field goal to the first team.

Going up against a team without a strong offensive line, you’d hope the defensive line would’ve had a bigger impact. Quinton Coples still looks a little lost at linebacker, and Sheldon Richardson was barely noticeable in his first NFL game.

The other first-round pick, Dee Milliner, had a nice play to break up a pass in the end zone. Overall, though, he still has work to do. He missed an open field tackle, and gave up a long pass. He looks solid for a rookie corner, but it’s a reminder that he isn’t here to replace Darrell Revis.

The Jets (0-1) return home next Saturday to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars at 7:30.

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