Aug 16, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; New York Jets quarterbackGeno Smith
(7) gesture at the line of scrimmage during the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 25-17 in a very sloppy, penalty-filled game. The Jets were without Eric Decker, Chris Ivory, Jalen Saunders and Jeff Cumberland on offense and Dee Milliner, Dimitri Patterson and Dexter McDougle on defense. The team showed their depth and resolve in coming back from a 17-3 deficit to get the win. How did it happen? Here are the good, the bad and the ugly:
1) Geno Smith’s continued improvement – Geno Smith’s numbers at first glance look pedestrian (10-13 98 yards 0 touchdowns 1 interception 3 carries 21 yards 1 touchdown) but his decision-making, footwork, progression through multiple receivers and accuracy have improved over last year. His interception wasn’t a bad read or forced into double coverage but a miscommunication between he and Nelson on which way Nelson should have turned. That’s a preseason error that can be easily worked out. I also don’t want to hear that Smith’s touchdown drive vs. the Bengals starters was too short, that wasn’t his fault his defense created a turnover giving him the short field which he capitalized on which occurs in real games. In addition, Smith looked good without his number one wide receiver (Eric Decker), running back (Chris Ivory), and tight end (Jeff Cumberland). 16 points on 6 drives is not bad at all. Still a lot of work to do but Smith is definitely a bright spot.
2) Calvin Pryor debuts to rave reviews – Jets 1st round draft pick Calvin Pryor entered the game in the 2nd quarter and played the remainder of the game after sitting out game one with lingering effects from a concussion earlier in camp. There was no rust on Pryor as he recovered a fumble caused by a Demario Davis sack in his 1st series then separated the ball from a receiver with a big hit, knocked down a pass while blitzing on 3rd down, got a tackle for loss against the run and was active in coverage. Plus he didn’t get injured. He couldn’t have had a better 1st game as he showcased all he can bring to the table for the Jets.
3) The offensive line play improves – After having communication breakdowns that caused sacks in game 1, the offensive line kept Smith, Vick and Boyd on their feet for the game and held Cincinnati without a sack. Even more important than that they opened holes in the running game with 124 yards gained on 18 carries in the 1st half (6.9 yards per carry average) with two touchdowns and overall they had 34 carries for 159 yards (5 yards per carry). Chris Johnson looked very good running for 63 yards on 10 carries and catching another twi balls. Bilal Powell had 41 yards on four carries, including a 32 yard carry on a read option handoff up the middle and a couple of receptions for 13 yards. Daryl Richardson looked very quick especially in the open field as he had a 26 yard catch on a screen to convert a 3rd and 25 as well as 23 yards on seven carries. Jace Amaro and Greg Salas were receivers who showed improved play.
Aug 4, 2014; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets free safetyAntonio Allen
(39) defends wide receiverStephen Hill
(84) during drills at training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
4) Antonio Allen – In his 1st ever game at corner Allen played well. He allowed a 35 yard completion to AJ Green but who wouldn’t have against an elite receiver one-on-one, especially when that receiver clearly pushed off. Allen used his physicality at the line of scrimmage and his length to cover long enough to dissuade Dalton from throwing at him other than that one time. As a cornerback the less times your name is called the better you are doing. In a game where Allen could have stuck out like a sore thumb against a good offense he was actually a bright spot in an otherwise horrendous performance by the 1st team defense. Allen and Pryor working together is an exciting thought for Jets fans this year and the years to come.
5) Jets defensive depth shines – The Jets seem to finally have some quality younger players behind their starters and it has shown in the preseason games. They shut out the Bengals 22-0 after doing a similar job against the Colts last week. AJ Edds had six tackles, was around the ball constantly and continues to play well in coverage. Barring an injury he has secured a roster spot in my opinion and could see the field in certain packages. Darrin Walls had a good night with a couple of pass breakups, including one where he was able to shove the receiver out of bounds preventing him from getting his 2nd foot down, and an interception to seal the game on the final play. Brandon Dixon and Ellis Lankster also played well in coverage.
6) Winning the turnover battle again – Causing turnovers has been a point of emphasis for the Jets and they caused 2 turnovers. The 1st was a Demario Davis strip sack that was recovered by Calvin Pryor. The other was a Nick Bellore strip of Jeremy Hill that Jaiquawn Jarrett recovered. IK Enemkpali had a strip sack that the Bengals recovered and Enemkpali also blocked a punt for a safety. He continues to make plays each game in limited time.
7) No major injuries – Other than Ras-I Dowling leaving the game with a groin injury the Jets got through the game with only minor nicks. Amaro ended his night early after he limped off but was fine, stayed on the bench and no injury was mentioned post game. Rontez Miles appeared to hurt himself on a very nice play where he blew up a screen for a loss but was fine and was tweeting after the game. The point of emphasis in the days leading up to the Giants’ game is getting already injured players back and assembled back into the lineup for the “dress rehearsal” game.
Aug 16, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterbackAndy Dalton
(14) throws the ball during the first quarter against the New York Jets at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
1) The 1st team defense can’t stop a nosebleed – The Bengals 1st team offense had two long touchdown drives to start the game and were only stopped on their last drive where they kicked a field goal following a Geno Smith interception. Andy Dalton was 8/8 for 144 yards and 1 touchdown. The Jets defense did not generate pressure outside of one or two plays by Wilkerson and Dalton had all day to pick the Jets depleted secondary apart. Dawan Landry was consistently late, as usual, getting over to help on the deep ball. Kyle Wilson got toasted twice by Mohamed Sanu and AJ Green had a 35 yard catch against Antonio Allen. The point being that whatever the Bengals wanted to do, they did and with little resistance. The Jets did a better job covering the back out of the backfield only allowing Bernard one catch for six yards and tackling him immediately but otherwise the Jets looked completely helpless to stop the Bengals. You preferably want both but you have to have either good coverage on the back end or a terrific pass rush to stop offenses and the Jets have neither. All teams are doing are going no-huddle and spreading out the Jets defense which is negating the strength of the front seven and throwing all over the field against the Jets. Right now I think the Jets best lineup in the secondary is Allen on one side and Walls on the other with Pryor and Landry at safety and Wilson and/or Patterson inside. Week 1 Milliner and Walls should be starting along with the Big Nickel package of Landry, Pryor and Allen.
2) The frustrating enigma of Stephen Hill – Hill had a beautiful catch for 17 yards on a 3rd and 16 where he found the soft spot in the zone and he had an excellent block on an outside run by Johnson but also got separated from the ball by a hit by George Illoka and had alligator arms on another pass. He also disappears for long periods of time. You can see the athletic potential but you can also see that he will probably never realize it, at least not here in New York. Maybe with the right coaching, looking at you Sanjay Lal, Hill could develop but it isn’t coming fast enough here and while I don’t think he will be cut he is certainly trying the patience of the coaching staff and front office.
3) The punters are awful – Ryan Quigley averaged 47 yards per punt but his 2 best punts (53, 51) were returned 13 and 10 yards respectively. Jacob Schum averaged 33 yards per punt consisting of two 36 yard punts and a punt from midfield that went 27 yards and couldn’t pin the Bengals inside the 20 late in the game. Schum needs to be cut and better competition (cough, Zoltan Mesko, cough) needs to be brought in for Quigley.
4) Vick and the 2nd team offense were just OK – Vick didn’t bring the same energy that he had in the 1st game. His first two series garnered no points and his 3rd series needed a 3rd and 25 conversion on a screen pass to Daryl Richardson that caught the Bengals flat-footed to spark it and lead to a touchdown by Clyde Gates on a wide receiver screen. Other than Greg Salas who flashed speed and good hands, and Jace Amaro who had 2 receptions for 24 yards as well as a 18 yard tight end screen that was nullified by penalty no receiver stood out. 11 Jet receivers caught balls much like last week where 13 Jets made a grab but no receiver had more than 2 catches or 31 yards.
Aug 1, 2013; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets guardWillie Colon
(66) during training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports
1) Penalties – The Jets had 12 penalties for 133 yards, including eight penalties in the 1st half for 95 yards. Most of the penalties were on chippy, post-possession personal fouls where the Jets lost their cool. Breno Giacomini had two personal fouls, Willie Colon had two personal fouls but only 1 enforced, Brian Winters had 2 personal fouls and a holding penalty, Stephen Hill had a personal foul, and Demario Davis even lost his cool and had a personal foul. That’s 7 personal fouls and that will cost you football games, period. There were some interesting calls by the officials but there is no excuse for losing their cool on the field. A big difference exists between playing tough and playing without discipline and the Jets lost their cool on Saturday. It is very clear by both Rex Ryan’s and the players’ comments after the game that this team is playing with an extra large chip on its shoulder but they have to be focused. They need to clean it up against the Giants or teams will continually bait the Jets into these stupid penalties all year long.
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Overall, the Jets defensive play against the Bengals starters is alarming. They have to choose if they are going to blitz to cover up their deficiencies or play less aggressive coverages. One tactic has to work or the team has no chance at success. Dee Milliner needs to be ready and 100% for Week 1 because there is no one currently on the roster that can replace him adequately, even for a game. The offense performed pretty well for being without Decker, Ivory and Cumberland, especially during a 10 play field goal drive where they averaged six yards per rush against the Bengals’ starters. That group is a work in progress but with working the injured players back in and the slow emergence of Jace Amaro as a weapon I am more optimistic than most about the offense. It is clear that the starting quarterback is an improved Geno Smith who continues to make good decisions. Still , there are plenty of holes on the team and the Jets should be active during the final cut period. Until then they will make the best with what they have.