Five Quick Hits on Tonight’s Jets vs Panthers Game
By Bob Montgomery
Here are 5 quick hits on tonight’s game featuring the New York Jets and the Carolina Panthers.
The Jets have yet to score an offensive touchdown this preseason. Sad but true, the New York Jets are the only team in the NFL that has not been able to get the ball across the goal line on 37 offensive possessions this preseason. The offense has struggled to move the ball on early downs, getting behind the chains and leaving long conversions on third down.
The lack of a power running game has failed to suck up defenses on play action while poor pass protection has allowed opposing teams to get pressure with just four pass rushers. The Jets offense must find their identity before the start of the regular season and get in rhythm to succeed early in 2012.
Mark Sanchez looked pretty good. Mark Sanchez seemed to have control of the offense, delivering on time passes accurately within the pocket. Some big drops by receivers left Sanchez out to dry on what could have been big yardage against a sharp Carolina defense. Sanchez showed the skills he honed in the off season, displaying improved arm strength and accuracy.
His footwork seemed to look improved too, quickly planting his feet and setting his body into his throws helping to keep passes from sailing over the intended receiver. If not for the drops, Sanchez’s stat line could look vastly different as Stephan Hill dropped a routine slant route with open field in front of him. Overall tonight’s performance by Mark Sanchez was a positive sign for both himself and the New York Jets.
Austin Howard stepped in and played pretty well in replacement of Wayne Hunter. Austin Howard showed tonight why Rex Ryan benched Wayne Hunter going into tonight;s game. He shined in both run blocking and pass protection, looking fully able to stalemate defenders and form a pocket to help protect Mark Sanchez on five and seven step drops. Howard also helped to open holes on the right side of the offensive line, providing daylight for running backs not seen in the previous two games.
The defense looks solid. The front seven played well, except for the occasional Cam Newton scramble Carolina was held in check on the ground. The defense looked especially fierce when utilizing a four man defense line, both stuffing runs and providing pressure on the quarterback. The inside pressure provided by Muhammed Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis up the middle was something not seen the last few years and an encouraging sign for the line backing corps as they should be able to roam more freely than in years past.
The defensive backs played well and Laron Landry looked just plain mean in the middle of the field, making his presence well known with Carolina wide receivers and running backs. The New York Jets defense looks faster and stronger than in previous years and when combined with the coaching of Rex Ryan this squad could really be something special come this fall.
Tim Tebow was Tim Tebow. Tebow came in the game and did what he normally does, running around the defense while completing just pass attempts to move the football down the field. It’s frustrating to watch because some plays Tebow seems to be making real progress in the passing game and others, he reverts back to bad habits featuringg a hitch release and whip throwing motion. Tonight he was able to make a few nice throws outside the numbers, then just as easily he manages to throw an interception directly to a Carolina defender, no Jets players in sight.
Desbite these woes Tebow may be the best running option so far this season. With no backs gaining significant yardage consistently, Tebow has offered a spark in the run game via quarterback scrambles as holes have not developed very well on designed runs. For the time being Tim Tebow can be considered a situational weapon for the Jets offense and provide a different look under center should Sanchez need relief due to injury.