Preseason Opener Thoughts

The Jets lost their first preseason game of 2011 tonight in Houston to the Texans 20-16. Despite the loss, I think there are a lot of positive takeaways. How much does any of this mean? Probably not much. Remember how in 2002 Vinny Testaverde and company could not be stopped in preseason and then stunk up the league early in the regular season? My quick thoughts are below.

  • I think the most important thing to take from tonight is how crisp Mark Sanchez looked. He seemed very comfortable and was right on target. Hopefully this is the start of something big.
  • Shonn Greene looked explosive. I wish he would not lower his shoulder in preseason and learn to just end plays out of bounds at least until they start playing for real.
  • Vladimir Ducasse...wow. That was terrible. I counted 3 sacks on his watch. It was worse than that. Almost every time I watched him, he was getting beaten handily. He was not winning. He was not fighting to a draw. He was just getting dominated. Worse, he showed a lack of even basic awareness, whiffing on a block on one screen and failing to chip, subsequently getting his quarterback hit on another. I really wonder whether he even makes the team. It is great to be big, but what good is it if you do not know how to latch onto a defender? It is great to be athletic, but what good does it do if you do not use your athleticism to be quick off the ball? I saw absolutely no improvement from where he was a year ago.
  • Robert Turner might not be great, but hope he is healthy. Next to the other second team linemen, he looks like Anthony Munoz.
  • Muhammad Wilkerson looked like a rookie out there. I feel like the Jets might be making the Kyle Wilson mistake all over, asking a rookie to do an extremely hard job. He had a tough time with power blocking.
  • The second team defensive line of Ropati Pitoitua, Kenrick Ellis, and Marcus Dixon, however, were fantastic. Yes, they were going against backups, but they were controlling the line of scrimmage. Pitoitua in particular was a load to block. He showed no signs of his injury from a year ago. If this holds up, he is going to be starting. Ellis tipped a pass that led to an interception.
  • Josh Mauga probably has a roster spot because of his work on special teams last year, but he made a bid to see more time on defense. A big tackle, a sack, a pressure, and an interception is a good night.
  • Jeremy Kerley dropped a pass he should have had, but man he looks slippery. Fans are really going to like this guy.
  • I thought the guys on ESPN were ridiculous the way they ridiculed Joe McKnight. I thought Joe looked pretty good aside from a drop. He was finishing his runs and grinding out extra yardage. They killed him for losing a one on one in pass protection to Brooks Reed. Guess what. A back should never be matched up against an edge rusher. That is a blocking failure when it happens. Yes, he ran out a deep kickoff like Kerley did. Might this be a sign that the Jets ordered their return men to run everything out so they could get a look at what they have?
  • Nick Folk made a bid to keep his kicking job by hitting both field goals. If the Jets did not care about his kickoffs last year, they probably will not with an extra 5 yards this year. He hit most of his kicks near the end zone, which shows how it will help.
  • I thought Chris Bryan won the night punting with 47 and 51 yard punts. T.J. Conley should have pinned the Texans at the 1 and would have if not for bad coverage. His other kicks were not that good, though.
  • Brodney Pool had a bad night. He was the guy who failed to kill that punt at the 1 and was beaten multiple times in coverage by backups.
  • Overall, coverage was very good. The Texans did not have many places to throw it. Until the waning moments, a running back was the only guy on their team with more than one reception. They just caught the Jets a few times blowing assignments out of the backfield and ran a few screens at perfect times catching the Jets blitzing.
  • Patrick Turner did a good job camping underneath when the Texans provided a cushion. He finished with 6 catches for 32 yards and a touchdown. I think his roster chances might have taken a hit, though. More on that tomorrow.
  • Jeff Cumberland looked dangerous with it in his hands. He finished with 6 grabs for 77 yards. He is fast and tough to bring down. I think his route running needs some work, but we saw him make plays. Unlike say Vladimir Ducasse, he made some progress.
  • Bilal Powell takes a long time to get to full speed, but he is a load to bring down once he gets there.
  • Matt Kroul made some mistakes. That is to be expected from a new lineman. He showed yflashes, though. I think the Jets should consider taking a guy like him who has potential once he learns technique over a guy who has not picked up anything in Ducasse if it came down to them.
  • Josh Baker might have a tough time finding a spot, but he sure made a case with all of those catches on that last drive and making things happen with it in his hands.
  • Michael Campbell's slim roster chances probably slipped through his fingers on that drop.
  • Dan DePalma was not as slippery as Kerley, but he looked tough to bring down.
  • Finally, there is Greg McElroy. He has a long way to go. It was clear he underestimated the speed of the pro game at times, and he was against scrubs. He also clearly needs to hit the weight room hard. He needs to add some zip to his throws so he can drive the tough ones in there. With that said, I was impressed with the toughness he showed shaking off a tough start and making plays and good decisions. Brian Schottenheimer also made good adjustments after that rough start giving McElroy easy throws to make (please, Schotty, be this smart all year long). The last play of the game was a bit ugly, but the Jets probably were not scoring there anyway.
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