On Monday night the New York Jets opened up the preseason with a 20-16 loss to the Houston Texans. As expected there was some sloppy play and mental mistakes, but for the most part the Jets accomplished their goals: stay healthy and get tape on the young players.
Injury to Robert Turner- One of the worst parts of Monday night’s game was that offensive lineman Robert Turner sustained an injury to his leg and had to be carted off of the field. Turner is a versatile lineman that provides the Jets with depth and this injury, if serious, could be a huge blow to the Jets offensive line. Look for the Jets to add a veteran free agent offensive lineman.
Vlad Ducasse a liability- Heading into year two the Jets had high expectations for offensive lineman Vlad Ducasse. Well based on Monday night’s performance Mr. Ducasse has a long way to go before he can be considered a viable option on the offensive line. Ducasse whiffed badly on two plays resulting in quarterback’s Mark Sanchez and Greg McElroy taking big hits. The Jets cannot keep rolling Vlad out there if he can’t protect the quarterback. To say that Ducasse is a liability at this point is an understatement.
Sanchez sharp- Mark Sanchez (6/7 43 yards) looked sharp as he completed quick slants to Derrick Mason and Santonio Holmes. The Jets may have wanted to open the playbook a little more, but playing behind a makeshift offensive line nullified those chances.
Young receivers shine- Patrick Turner ( 6 catches, 1 td), Jeremy Kerley (3 catches), and Jeff Cumberland (tight end-6 catches, 77 yards) all had solid games on Monday night displaying consistent hands and the ability to get yards after the catch. This was a very encouraging sign as the Jets look to build up their receiving group after there their three veterans (Mason, Holmes, Burress).
Powell and Greene impress- Running backs Shonn Greene and rookie Bilal Powell looked very explosive finding holes and dragging tacklers. The Jets will have plenty of depth at the running back position, which is never a bad thing.
McElroy passes first test- With backup quarterback Mark Brunell injured, rookie signal caller Greg McElroy was thrown to the wolves on Monday night and the young man held his own. The young quarterback started out slow throwing some questionable passes and some floaters, but McElroy showed his true colors and talents as the game progressed. McElroy does not have the strongest of arms, but the young quarterback definitely showed some ability to move the offense, which is saying a lot considering the limited amount of practice time that he has had.
Young linemen making plays– Heading into Monday night’s game many were wondering how the young defensive line for the New York Jets would play. Well the early reviews are positive as Kenrick Ellis, Muhammad Wilkerson, Marcus Dixon, and Ropati Pitoitua all were active around the ball making plays. The Jets youth movement on the defensive line has added speed and power, now they just need to get game experience.
Wilson improving- Second year player Kyle Wilson was very active in the Jets secondary, which is another encouraging sign for Gang Green. The Jets will be looking to Wilson to take on a bigger role in the Jets defense, more than likely at nickel back.
Communication issues, blown assignments- Even though it was the first preseason game, there were a substantial amount of blown assignments and communication issues on the defensive of the ball. Some of these mistakes are expected to happen in the preseason, but not by the veteran players. I expect to see these issues cleaned up as the preseason rolls along.
Kerley explosive- Rookie Jeremy Kerley displayed some serious ability on Monday night as he returned both punts and kickoffs. The rookie is very quick and does an excellent job following his blockers. The sky is truly the limit for this young player.
Westhoff tries new strategy- Special teams coach Mike Westhoff is trying a new strategy to offset the rules change that is resulting in longer kickoffs. Westhoff is having the Jets returners stand 4-5 yards back in the endzone and taking a running start to field the kickoffs. The goal is to continue to give the Jets a chance to take advantage of their return game. The early results were pretty good as a couple of the returns got close to the 30-yard line.
Position battles continue- The battles for the starting kicker and punter positions continued on Monday night with each player getting their chance to show what they can do. Nick Folk was 2/2 on field goals, while Nick Novak was 1/1. My guess is that kickoff consistency could determine the winner of this battle, but I am far from an expert on kicking. As for the punters both T.J. Conley and Chris Bryan showed off their legs, but at this point there is no clear cut favorite. I would not be surprised to see this battle go down to the last preseason game.
Keep an eye on DePalma- Rookie Dan DePalma showed some flashes in the return game as he was very hard to bring down and displayed some pretty good instincts. If DePalma can find a way to contribute on the coverage units, he could find a way onto the roster.
For a first preseason game following a lockout and limited practice time, the team played as expected. The injury to Turner is a huge concern, especially considering that the Jets do not have an adequate replacement on the roster. The young players showed promise, while the veterans are working out the rust. It is very early in the preseason and it is going to take some time for everyone to get on the same page.
One message to Jets fans: RELAX it is the preseason. It is way too early to be criticizing the play calling, the lack of a pass rush, and the Jets performance in the redzone. At this point just be happy that some of the young players showed promise and that the team left the game relatively healthy.