The New York Jets started their preseason with a victory over the Tennessee Titans with a final score of 7-3.
The New York Jets kicked off the preseason on Saturday against the Tennessee Titans with a 7-3 win. Although it was an ugly game altogether, there were some bright spots for the Jets including the first team offense shockingly enough.
Wide receiver Robby Anderson picked up right where he left off last season with three catches for 71 yards including a 53-yard bomb from starter Josh McCown who was impressive in his own right. Although it was a small sample size, McCown displayed terrific command of the offense and finished 3-4 for 77 yards, topping his night off with a four-yard touchdown pass to Charone Peake.
The defense as a whole was also impressive all night recording eight sacks while holding the Titans offense (albeit mostly the backups) to just a field goal, but it was the first teamer’s that especially stood out. Defensive end Leonard Williams was all over the field and halted the Titans first drive with a punishing sack of quarterback Marcus Mariota. The linebackers showed plenty of bursts and speed off the edge as Julian Stanford, Jordan Jenkins, and Bruce Carter all recorded a sack.
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Quarterback Christian Hackenberg was the biggest storyline heading into the game and he got plenty of playing time taking over for McCown after the first drive and played all the way until the early stages of the fourth quarter.
The Penn State product finished the night 18-25 for 124 yards. While those are solid numbers for a second-year player who hadn’t seen the field since the preseason finale last season, Hackenberg failed to put up any points, and while he didn’t turn the football over either he wasn’t taking any risks at all that would allow him to.
His best drive came in his second possession where he looked in complete command of the offense. He completed 3 of 4 passes in which the only incompletion was a drop by Jalin Marshall and moved the chains twice. It was a seven play drive that totaled 34 yards and ended with a missed 55-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro. After that, Hackenberg stayed efficient with his throws but failed to generate any long drives, several of which resulted in three and outs.
In fairness, it did appear to be a very selective game plan for the second year pro in an effort to likely build up his confidence moving forward. As Hackenberg gets more adjusted to the pace of an NFL game he should be allowed to throw the football down the field, and take some more calculated risks. A steadier run game would certainly help the offense flow much better, as Gang Green failed to establish a solid ground game and finished with just 56 total yards rushing on the night. However, a lot of that can be chalked up to the absence of Matt Forte and Bilal Powell, the team’s top two running backs who both sat out of Saturday’s contest for precautionary reasons.
Quarterback Bryce Petty closed out the evening with the second and third team offense. and attempted just six passes while connecting on two of them for 16 yards. Petty’s limited playing time pretty much tells you all you need to know about the team’s quarterback competition. The conclusion can be drawn that its a two man job between Hackenberg and McCown with Hackenberg needing an impressive showing in the remainder of the preseason to unseat McCown for the starting gig. The Jets see Petty as an emergency backup and nothing else, which means he’ll receive very little meaningful reps over the next three games.
Getting McCown comfortable with his new teammates (most of whom are young and inexperienced) in addition to acclimating Hackenberg to where he can be comfortable leading an NFL huddle are the two main goals for head coach Todd Bowles and company to achieve before the regular season. Despite some ups and downs and at times ugly play from the offense, the Jets accomplished what they wanted in their first exhibition game of 2017.
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