It may have only been the preseason, but man did it feel good to have football back. The Jets lost the game to the Texans, but despite some worrisome negatives there was an awful lot for Jets fans to like.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way shall we. Vladimir Ducasse looked absolutely lost out there for the Jets. He was actually solid in the running game at first, but terrible in passing situations and the Jets simply can not live with that type of performance, even with their backup offensive linemen.
The Rob Turner injury (Rex Ryan said Turner will have an MRI on the ankle tomorrow) was another obvious negative, the Jets are already thin at the backup offensive linemen position and with Ducasse turning in such a disappointing performance this is an injury that has to worry the Jets. Don’t be surprised if we see GM Mike Tannenbaum try and address this situation in the next few weeks and try and add more depth to this top heavy offensive line.
Some of the same things that plagued the Jets all last season were back rearing their ugly head. Too many penalties for one. Also there will be, once again, a lot of talk about the lack of pass rush, but even more troubling was the fact that the Jets couldn’t stop the backs from making plays out of the backfield in the passing game (especially Chris Ogbonnaya only 37 yards on 17 carries, but 67 yards on six catches).
Third string QB, Greg McElroy, looked completely lost when he first appeared in the second quarter, but bounced back rather impressively (that final play notwithstanding). And it doesn’t get much worse than poor Michael Campbell’s dropped potential game-winning touchdown pass, the rookie has a lot of ground to make up now if he wants to make this team.
Still having said all that, there was a lot to be excited about if you’re a Jets fan. With the highlight of the night probably going to Rex Ryan for the intensity he showed by flipping out towards the end of the first-half before calling a timeout. It may have only been a preseason game, but Ryan clearly didn’t care if the game counted in the standings or not.
As for standout players, LB Josh Mauga certainly had a standout game (three tackles, one sack, another tackle for a loss, two QB hits and an interception), and Kenrick Ellis looked to the disruptive force he has been advertised as (deflecting the pass that Mauga picked off). Tight end Jeff Cumberland showed off his speed and size and had an impressive game (six catches for 77 yards). Shonn Greene (five carries 32 yards) looked like he did in the playoffs his rookie year, as he ran with authority, something he shied away from last season, and backup RB Bilal Powell (nine carries 25 yards and three catches for 27 yards) flashed his explosive power and showed some good hands.
Mark Sanchez had a solid, but not spectacular evening (6-7 for 43 yards). The completion percentage was right where it needs to be, but they were all short ‘dink-and-dunk,’ passes. Which will have to be forgiven due to the fact that Nick Mangold and Brandon Moore didn’t play a single play in the game and Turner got himself hurt rather early. Still it was a good sign to see the Sanchez-Derrick Mason connection working as well as it has been in training camp.
Rookie Jeremy Kerley looked solid as a slot receiver (three catches for 20 yards), but looked even better at returning kicks and speaking of returning kicks how could anyone not love the fact that Mike Westhoff said who cares how far we’re going to receive the kickoff we’re still running the ball out. In fact the special teams as a whole looked solid as usual with the coverage teams being rather impressive.
Also turning in some nice performances were Patrick Turner (six catches 32 yards and a TD), Josh Baker (three catches for 45 yards) and cornerback Ellis Lankster made some noise on kick coverage and in the passing game.
The Jets were in the game from the beginning and accomplished what they set out to for the most part, but had too many of the same problems as last year for Ryan to walk away happy from this game. It was good to see McElroy bounce back from that shaky start, but it’s still hard to figure out just exactly what he was thinking on that last play. Still he gave the Jets a chance to win the game when he dropped a gorgeous pass into the hands of Campbell but Campbell just couldn’t hang on to secure the win.
And that’s what leads us right back to where we started, it’s only the first preseason game. Three more weeks to iron out all the kinks.
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