The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl trophy to the Giants 35-24 but the score is misleading as the Jets starters played their best game of the preseason on both sides of the ball. Other than a possible concussion suffered by Antonio Allen and some poor play from Kyle Wilson and some backups it was a good night for the Jets. Here is the good, the bad and the ugly:
1) Geno Smith - Smith was 9/14 for 137 yards with 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions. He also added 3 rushes for 17 yards. Smith was in control in his five drives. He made good, quick decisions, had near perfect ball placement and was able to get into a nice rhythm on multiple drives. It is easy to see the growth from Geno mentally as the rush doesn’t bother him anymore, he doesn’t get happy feet, he stays poised and goes through his progressions before scrambling if necessary instead of forcing plays. In a move that surprised no one Smith was named the starting quarterback for the regular season after the game by Rex Ryan.
2) The running game - Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory were an extremely effective one-two punch in the backfield Friday night. They combined for 92 yards rushing on 15 carries (6+ yards per carry) and they were very effective in the screen game with the two combining for 58 yards receiving on three catches (nearly 20 yards per catch). With Bilal Powell and possibly Daryl Richardson able to keep them fresh during the season the Jets should be a top five rushing team that can do a lot with multi-faceted backs. Ivory is quicker and faster than most give him credit for and although he usually has hands of stone if he can catch a couple of screen passes he is dangerous in the open field because it is so hard to bring him down. Johnson is running fast and hard showing no signs of previous injury or wear and tear from years of overuse. Johnson is used to catching 40-50 balls anyway and that should be what he does here.
3) Jace Amaro - Amaro continues to develop into a weapon that makes plays weekly and he looks to be a player that teams will have to game plan against. Friday night he had four catches for 37 yards and his 1st touchdown. The touchdown came off of play action where Amaro released into the end zone while the Giants’ linebackers tried to stop a run play that didn’t exist. The result was an easy pitch and catch for the score. Amaro knows where the 1st down marker is on each play and how to use his body to make sure he gets the 1st down and he also is adept at picking up yards after the catch. Too big for corners or safeties and too fast for linebackers, Amaro will be a handful this year especially as the year goes along and he learns all of his roles.
4) The offensive line - The Jets amassed 405 yards in total offense including 147 on the ground and they did it while keeping Geno Smith and Michael Vick relatively clean. In the 1st half when all the starters were in the line only had 2 penalties, one for Colon on a false start and the other was a very questionable holding call against Winters that negated a 20 yard 3rd down conversion to Kerley. The discipline was much improved over last week and the line keeps improving steadily.
5) The first team defense shows up - Eli Manning was 12/21 for 139 yards but seven of his completions and 89 of his yards were when the Jets were essentially in prevent defense. For all the drives prior the Jets owned the line of scrimmage, got good pressure from Wilkerson (strip sack), Babin (strip sack), Coplea, Richardson, Pace and Demario Davis, and looked dominant doing it. Walls and Allen did a good job on the outside. Coples was the best player on the field at times seeming to have a permanent spot in the Giants’ backfield. Kyle Wilson was abused by Victor Cruz but who didn’t expect that. If Allen’s potential concussion doesn’t linger and Milliner comes back Week 1, the Jets could be in better shape than they were prior to the injuries. Rex realizing that Walls really can play and beginning to trust him will let him take the outside corner position and move Patterson inside where he plays best. Allen can move back to “safety” but his version of safety is covering tight ends and receivers in man coverage and blitzing off of the corner much like a cornerback would do anyway.