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Top 3 takeaways from Week 1 preseason opener

By William Schneiderhan
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 10: Trenton Cannon #40 carries the ball in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons during a preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 10, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 10: Trenton Cannon #40 carries the ball in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons during a preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 10, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – AUGUST 10: Trenton Cannon #40 carries the ball in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons during a preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 10, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – AUGUST 10: Trenton Cannon #40 carries the ball in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons during a preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 10, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The preseason has kicked off for the New York Jets as the team took the MetLife Stadium field for the first time on Friday night. So, without getting out of control, let’s look at the top three takeaways from Gang Green’s Week 1 preseason win.

Oh yes, New York Jets fans can finally rejoice as preseason football has kicked off. Gang Green didn’t disappoint, as the team tossed the first shutout in a preseason opener since 1990.

Of course, these games don’t mean much when it comes to wins and losses. Regardless, these exhibition games give teams and players a chance to see what they are working with.

Now, there is a large number of people who believe preseason games are worthless because many star players play one or two drives before calling it a night. That may be true, but Friday’s Jets game meant a little bit more to the team and the fans.

Why? Because it marked the much-anticipated debut of the Sam Darnold. The question of the day: What signal caller would look the best? The answer to that question is very tough.

So, being as reasonable as possible, let’s take a look at the three takeaways from Friday night’s win over the Atlanta Falcons.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – AUGUST 10: Folorunso Fatukasi #94 of the New York Jets tackles Logan Paulsen #82 of the Atlanta Falcons in the first half during a preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 10, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – AUGUST 10: Folorunso Fatukasi #94 of the New York Jets tackles Logan Paulsen #82 of the Atlanta Falcons in the first half during a preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 10, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

3. Defensive line play

Defensive play in preseason games can be very hard to interpret. As said above, rarely do team’s play their number one starters in order to avoid the risk of injury.

Also, teams don’t necessarily game plan or stick to specific schemes because of all the player personnel change during the game. With that being said, that doesn’t mean you can’t evaluate defensive play in preseason games.

The Jets defensive line play was very strong, mostly because that unit showed something that last year’s group didn’t: effort. Gang Green’s D-line held the Falcons to 49 rushing yards and  2.2 yards-per-rush.

Rookie Nathan Shepherd looks more and more like he will be a key piece for the Jets defense in the future. He clogged the middle, caused some disruption and made some run-stopping plays.

Next: 2. Backfield depth

2. Backfield depth

Rushing has been the name of the game for years now, dating all the way back to the Rex Ryan era. This year will be no different, especially if the Jets look to ease Darnold into the starting quarterback role.

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Well, one of the biggest takeaways of last night’s game was that the Jets will seemingly have a fair amount of depth in the backfield. We know about Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell, but it was rookie Trenton Cannon who caught everyone’s eye Friday night.

Cannon went for 40-rushing yards on 11 carries and also had three receptions for five yards. He showed his explosiveness and big-play ability.

Cannon’s production in the air was limited, but he will look to be more involved in that area as the preseason goes on. The rookie demonstrated why he may be a featured back with Powell and Crowell this season.

Next: 1. Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Darnold

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – AUGUST 10: Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the New York Jets calls out the play in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons during a preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 10, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – AUGUST 10: Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the New York Jets calls out the play in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons during a preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 10, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

1. Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Darnold

Yes, the part you have been waiting for is here. Perhaps the biggest, and really only concrete takeaway from Friday’s game was the quarterback play.

Disclaimer: I’m not going to tell you Teddy Bridgewater is back, or that Darnold checked all the boxes that he needed to last night. Rather, I’m going to talk about how healthy and comfortable both players looked.

Bridgewater looks to be fully healthy. His progressions in the pocket and reads were spot on for a guy who has missed all the time he has. He made a strong statement by looking healthy and confident, as well as going 7/8 with 85 yards and a touchdown.

Darnold followed Bridgewater with a solid performance of his own, going 13/18 for 96 yards and a touchdown. Like Bridgewater, Darnold carried himself well within the pocket. The rookie showed his athleticism by extending plays with his legs, converted on some big plays and made the necessary throws.  More importantly, he just looked very confident and comfortable.

Hot. Jets open to trading Teddy Bridgewater for the right price

The performances by these two must have had the Jets front office jumping for joy. Bridgewater put on a show for potential trade partners, while Darnold took his first step towards becoming a starting quarterback in the NFL.

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