Well, half the Preseason is over. Half the Starter's preseason snaps are done, with the other half coming next week. So far our Defense has looked pretty good, while our Offense has left something to be desired. Join me after the Jump for some random reflections on Game 2 and the first half of the Preseason.
Sanchez: Sanchez threw the ball with more zip and accuracy than I have ever seen from him. He consistently led his receivers well, hitting them in stride and in rhythm, with authority. Hitting the short to intermediate routes with accuracy, in stride has been a consistent weak point for Sanchez. Doing so allows for the chance of some serious YAC; the failure to do so not only forecloses that opportunity, but also puts your WRs in harm's way, as they have to stop or stretch out, exposing themselves to big hits. Last night Sanchez consistently put the ball in the right place, at the right time, in stride, with authority. It was fun to watch, and I was left wishing he had done more of this in the past and hoping he would do more of it in the future.
Tebow: He came out firing. While it's true he got all kinds of time to start the second half, at least he made the most of it early on, hitting his passes with accuracy and velocity and driving for the only Jets score of the game.
Patrick Turner: In the absence of 3 of our top 4 receivers, Turner earned the start and looked decent against the Giants first string, getting separation several times and hauling in a pass for a first down.
The Defense: In one half of play, the defense allowed 6 points, a good enough performance to win most NFL games. Had Joe McKnight not incurred a boneheaded penalty on a punt, that would have been 3 points allowed. Against an upper echelon QB in Eli Manning we allowed 50% passing, 62 yards and a 32 QB rating. That's a very good performance by our first team D against one of the league's better offenses. The D wasn't dominant, it didn't apply much pressure, but we still managed what should have been a winning defensive performance, if our offense just showed up.
The Backups: Jordan White looked like the best Jets WR on the field. Jeff Cumberland outplayed Dustin Keller. Bilal Powell didn't look completely useless, a substantial upgrade over last year. Antonio Allen and Kendrick Ellis were both active and productive in the 2nd half. Both looked like legit NFL players.
Sanchez: Sanchez once again took no shots down the field. I attribute this to 3 factors. First, he had no legit NFL WRs to work with. The entire crew of active Jets WRs in yesterday's game had a combined 10 catches for 122 yards in their NFL careers. That's just not NFL quality at the position, and it showed, as our WRs often struggled to get separation. Second, he was working against the NFLs best pass rushing line, with Turnstile Hunter protecting his right side against maybe the best pass rusher in the NFL in JPP. That predictably resulted in very limited time for Sanchez, making shots down the field difficult. Third, Sanchez just seemed inclined to take the safe play, practically ignoring his deep options even in the few instances when he had time. Two of those 3 factors are beyond Sanchez's control. The third may be Sanchez's fault or he may be coached in the new offense to play this way. Regardless, to succeed we are going to need to find a way to take some shots down the field, especially when we have more speed at the WR position than at any time in Jets history other than the Wesley Walker/Lam Jones era.
The other bad part of Sanchez's game was the sacks. I thought 2 of the 3 sacks could be at least be partially attributed to Sanchez holding the ball too long. It wasn't glaring, and the O-Line has to do better, but he has to also know he is facing the NFL's premier pass rush and be prepared to either hit the hot read or throw it away and avoid the sack.
Tebow: After a hot start, Tebow came crashing back to earth, missing 8 of his last 9 passes and looking awful in doing so. He so badly overthrew a swing pass he almost hit Revis doing a sideline interview. He badly underthrew Hill in the End Zone on a play Hill was as wide open as a WR ever gets in the NFL. Literally no Giant covered Hill on the play as a result of a blown assignment. This was a layup, a throw any QB in the NFL should be able to hit in his sleep, and Tebow missed it by ten feet. That was as bad as it gets. Tebow also was limited in the running game, as the Giants focused on stopping his running and largely succeeded.
Patrick Turner: Turner impressed a bit with his ability to separate. His hands were another matter. On his only catch of the night he failed to catch a perfectly thrown pass cleanly, bobbled it, and barely came down with the ball. Had the defensive back hit him a split second sooner, he would have been separated from the ball. Moments later on third down, Sanchez again threw him a perfect pass, in stride, in his hands, and Turner dropped what would have been a drive-saving catch. Instead, the Jets had to punt. Turner's progress in getting separation this season is nice to see, but if he can't hold onto the damn ball, it's useless. He has to do better.
Dustin Keller: For the second straight game Keller was invisible. Yes he caught 2 passes, but for only 9 yards. He made no impact, after being shut out in Game 1. For those looking for a career year from Keller, this is an inauspicious start.
The Offensive Line: The offensive line failed to create much of a push in the running game, resulting in only 65 yards rushing and 2.7 yards per carry. Not good.
The Backup WRs: Nobody other than White distinguished themselves or got consistent separation, and in general none of the candidates past White looked like NFL WRs.
The Backup Defense: While a couple of guys, notably Ellis and Allen, looked good, the backup D as a whole gave up 13 points in the 2nd half – a mediocre performance. They failed to get much pressure on the QB, made the combination of David Carr and Ryan Perrilloux look like top 15 QBs, and were only adequate against the run. In their defense, they were consistently put in bad positions by our illustrious punter.
Coples: After a stellar performance in Game 1, Coples came back down to earth in Game 2. Yes he had a sack, but he was not the one applying pressure on the play and basically had the QB step into his arms after 2 other jets flushed him from the pocket. The only other play Coples made was impressive for his superhuman hand strength. He brought down a Giants RB by grabbing his jersey with one hand, forcefully swinging him around and down with only one hand grasping only the jersey. I don't know if I've ever seen that before. But outside of those 2 plays, Coples was pretty much invisible for the night. It was not terrible, but it was also not a terribly impressive performance against the Giants' backups.
Maybin: For a second straight game, Maybin was invisible. Other than a nice play on a blocked punt, Maybin was missing in action, and thus far has done absolutely nothing to suggest he deserves more playing time. After fading down the stretch last year and showing nothing so far this year, there is a real risk that Maybin's play of last year may prove to be the highlight of his career. Something to keep an eye on.
The Pass Rush: The first team Pass Rush failed to register a sack, although they did manage to pressure Eli into an INT. Overall we did not get a lot of pressure on the QB. We'll need more when the real games start. Hopefully Maybin can provide it.
Wayne Hunter: The man is simply not an NFL player. 3 sacks in one half of football. Should have been 4 but for a penalty. Yes he was going against the all world JPP, so a sack or 2 over the course of a full game was to be expected. But 4 in one half?!! 4 in one game for an entire O-Line is a bad game. For a single player in a single half it is just cause, when combined with last year's disaster, to cut him. Now. This second. He does not belong in the NFL. He is not quality backup material, he is not quality anything other than a quality experience for the leagues' DEs. Cut him. Please.
TJ Conley: Three (3!) straight shanked punts?!! The man does not look like an NFL punter.
Sanchez: The INT was atrocious. Poorly thrown, off his back foot, in an area where if it is intercepted it goes the other way for 6. Bad judgment, bad throw, an overall horrific play. Every QB makes them, but unless Sanchez offsets his with some big plays of his own, the Jets cannot afford this very often. If it happens 10 times a season, fine. If it happens once a game or more, we are in trouble.
Tebow: His mechanics are STILL a mess. Yes, he can make quality NFL throws at times. But at other times his throws are STILL laughable. He came out smoking hot and still ended up 5 of 14. The problem is still his mechanics. They are all over the place. At times he will keep the ball up by his ear, his motion compact and with comparatively little (for Tebow) windup. At other times he still brings the ball down by his waist in a huge windup before throwing. On three successive passes last night he threw one ball with proper mechanics, one ball with a huge windup starting near his waist, and one ball practically sidearm. He has no consistent release point, hence no consistency in passing. This after another full training camp of intensive work on his mechanics. He is now in his 3rd year, has worked nonstop to improve his throwing, yet is still incapable of doing something as basic and fundamental as consistently repeating a decent throwing motion and developing a consistent release point. It is time to put to rest the notion that all Tebow needs is coaching and repetition in the proper throwing motion. He has had years of coaching and repetition, and his mechanics are still a mess. In all likelihood they will always be a mess. Yes, he can throw a nice deep ball. Yes for short stretches he can get in a groove and look pretty good, but he will always fall back into his old, bad mechanics. This will not be fixed, and Tebow will not develop into a decent NFL QB. It's not going to happen. He can run, but he can't hide his throwing deficiencies. As a passer. Tebow is and will likely always be horrific. The occasional 12 for 20 performances are nothing but fool's gold.
The Offense: So far it is bad. Really, really scary bad. 3 quarters of work, no TDs, 3 total points scored, 7 total points given up (14 if you count the blocked punt). This has been a nightmare. It is early, they are still learning the new offense, they have most of their WRs out, so there's plenty of reasons to think it will get better, but so far we simply do not have a competitive, NFL caliber offense. If that does not change it will be a long year indeed.
A FINAL RAY OF HOPE
As bad as we've looked in the first 2 games, the first units have actually been surprisingly competitive. Our 1s actually outgained the Giants 1s in the first half. If Sanchez doesn't throw that 1 horrific pass, at worst we go to halftime down only 6-3, and there is a decent chance we score a TD and actually lead at the half. Likewise, in the Cincy game, their 1s only outscored our 1s 3-0. The takeaway: even if our Offense is as bad as it looks so far, maybe, just maybe our Defense will be so good that we will end up playing a lot of 10-7 and 17-13 games. If so, I kinda like our chances with Mark's hands on the ball, one possession to win or lose the game. In the past he has been at his best in those situations. Maybe we'll see a lot more of that this year.