Aug 17, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) celebrates a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars with center Erik Cook (70) during the third quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Jaguars 37-13. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
This week the Jets beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 37-13. While it is always good to get a win and some excellent performances with it there also more than a few areas of opportunity that need to get fixed before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to town to kick off the regular season.
1) Mark Sanchez’s first 2.999 drives – Sanchez looked in control as he drove the team 58 yards in 3 minutes hitting Hill for 11, Kerley for 14 and a 23 yard touchdown to Jeff Cumberland. His second drive he led the team 53 yards with completions to Kerley and Bohanon but threw his first incompletion of the night when he overthrew Stephen Hill on a 3rd and 2. That led to a field goal. His 3rd drive he continued to drive the field and looked good. Then came 3rd and goal from the 3 yard line. You can find the rest under bad.
2) The Offensive Line – The offensive line play was excellent both run and pass blocking. The only sack the first unit allowed was a coverage sack where Sanchez held the ball too long. Of note, Willie Colon was a beast last night opening up a monster hole for Bilal Powell to run through for a 37 yard gain. Austin Howard passed blocked cleanly and Stephen Peterman played well and did not commit a penalty despite getting nicked up a couple of times. The second unit line was outstanding as well led by Vladimir Ducasse. That is not an error I said Vladimir Ducasse. I will wait for you to get up from the floor. Ducasse played around 50 snaps and performed well even recording a pancake block on a 3rd quarter run. Tommy Bohanon run blocked well but couldn’t hold his pass blocking assignment on a delayed blitz which resulted in a sack. Also Oday Aboushi improved tremendously from game 1 and deserves credit for straightening himself out.
2) The Running Game – The Jets rushed for 37 yards last week and Bilal Powell averaged less than 2 yards per carry. This week was an entirely different story. The team had 176 yards rushing and dominated the line of scrimmage. Bilal Powell was quick and elusive in picking up 68 yards on just 7 carries including a 37 yard run. Chris Ivory debuted and only had 13 yards on 6 carries but showed his violent running style on an 8 yard run where he ran over a defensive back before he was taken down. He also did not appear limited by his hamstring and he got through the game without injury. Khalil Bell ran well and had 2 short touchdown runs. Mossis Madu had 9 carries for 34 yards as the game wound down. With Ivory and Powell the Jets have a very good one two punch to open the season with. Hopefully Mike Goodson will appear at some point too.
3) Special Teams – Clyde Gates showed terrific burst and nice awareness as he broke two long kickoff returns. Gates had 3 returns for 100 yards (a 33.3 yard average) including a 44 yard return to start the game. Ryan Quigley took advantage of Robert Malone’s absence averaging 46 yards per punt including 2 inside the 20 yard line. Folk’s first 2 kickoffs were touchbacks and he hit a 54 yard field goal also. The coverage teams were solid and even recovered a muffed punt at the Jacksonville 3 yard line at the end of the first half.
4) Tone Time – Santonio Holmes advanced his rehab for the second time this week when he ran sprints at full speed and also ran some routes and caught some balls before the game. All accounts were that he looked good. Holmes should avoid the PUP list at the beginning of the season and could play anywhere from Week 1 to Week 3 depending on when he returns to practice and how he works himself into game shape. I wasn’t banking on anything from Holmes this year so this is a very positive development.
5) Lack of Penalties – After having 11 penalties and looking sloppy in the opener the Jets were only flagged 4 times for 35 yards including a very questionable late hit on David Harris.
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
1) The End of Sanchez’s 3rd Drive and the Rest of the Half With the Starters – So it was 3rd and goal from the 3 and Sanchez looked to Winslow in the end zone, Winslow was covered but Sanchez tried to fit it in and it got intercepted by Marcus Trufant. It was a low percentage pass that he should have thrown away and taken the 3 points. Winslow, however, did not run his route crisply and did not attack the ball in the air which could have led to it being an incompletion rather than an interception. That aside the ball should not have been thrown in the first place. From the time Sanchez was 5-5 early on his play slowly deteriorated and he finished the half 3-10. He seemed to be a bit rattled by the interception and had two straight 3 and outs before a terrible series before the half. The Jets recovered a muffed punt by the Jaguars at the 3 yard line and the offense did not score. He scrambled too quickly and missed a wide open Clyde Gates in the end zone and on the final play of the half took the entire remaining 6 seconds before throwing it away and costing the team a chance for the field goal.
2) The Starting Defense – The Jets were caught by surprise when Jacksonville came out running the no huddle offense and played back on their heels. The Jaguars moved the ball by throwing short, quick passes and getting yards after the catch due to poor tackling. The linebackers, especially David Harris, were exposed in coverage and they were losing the battle on the line of scrimmage. Dee Milliner was picked on consistently and performed like a rookie. He was not aggressive in his man defense and was a step slow in his reactions. He was called out for his poor play by Rex Ryan in the post game press conference. How he rebounds against the Giants will show what he is made of. Blaine Gabbert finished 13-16 for 165 yards (83 yards after catch) and a touchdown.
Mo Wilkerson played well as usual as did Quinton Coples who nearly decapitated Chad Henne. Landry had 8 tackles, Sheldon Richardson had 6 but no pressures, Ricky Sapp had a sack and an offside penalty and Danny Lansanah continued his push for a roster spot with an interception. Another positive was that they buckled down after letting up a 1st possession touchdown to only allow 13 points.
3) Injuries – Quinton Coples left this game with an ankle injury that will sideline him indefinitely. He will be missed as a playmaker on the defense. Antwan Barnes you’re up. Geno Smith, Kenrick Ellis and Brian Winters were the notable inactives. The Jets did not want Smith to take hits on his gimpy ankle, which he says is close to 100%. With Sanchez’s up and down performance the competition will continue through the week most likely culminating in the game against the Giants. Kenrick Ellis’s weight room back injury bears watching because a healthy back is essential for a nose tackle (see Pouha, Sione). I’m not saying his injury is as bad as Pouha’s but it bares watching whether he returns to practice on Monday. Brian Winters missed his second consecutive game and has lost the guard competition to Stephen Peterman at least for now and Winters will have to work his way back up the depth chart.
1) Dustin Keller’s Knee Injury – Not from the Jets game but ex-Jet Dustin Keller tore his ACL, MCL and LCL after a helmet on knee collision that left his knee going one way and the rest of his leg going the other. It was a gruesome injury and I wish Dustin nothing but the best in his recovery.