Here are takeaways from last night's preseason loss to the Giants.
1. Todd Bowles didn't view it as a dress rehearsal: In many cases you will see teams treat the third preseason game as a regular season dry run for the starters. Teams play their starters into the second half so they get the experience of coming out of the locker room. That was not the case for the Jets last night. The starting defense finished its night at halftime. The second team offense actually made its way onto the field in the second quarter. Todd Bowles indicated after the game that getting Christian Hackenberg onto the field was his priority. While Brandon Marshall was dealing with a minor injury, Bowles indicated the ability to see younger receivers get experience with the first team played into the calculus of sitting Marshall. I'm not sure Bowles is right or wrong for his approach. It's just different from what a lot of teams do.
2. I think Mo's leg is fine: Muhammad Wilkerson made his return to the field after suffering a broken leg in last season's finale against the Bills. He announced his arrival with a tackle for no gain on his first play. He added three more tackles either for no gain or a loss. I'm not sure one player is the difference between the shaky first team defense we saw earlier in the preseason and the dominance of last night. It sure didn't hurt, though.
3. Ryan Fitzpatrick needs to be better: You could tell something was wrong with Fitzpatrick early in the game when even some of his completions were floating. He left a lot of throws to open receivers on the field and took a brutal strip sack that cost the team points. He finished the night with a nice touchdown pass to Eric Decker, but the defense bailed Fitz out early.
4. Special teams were special: It is difficult to remember now, but there was a time when Mike Westhoff was coaching where it was a given the Jets would have a stellar special teams unit. Last night, the group was terrific. The Jets blocked a punt early. Jeremy Ross had a 28 yard punt return. Rontez Miles kept finding the ball. Even roster longshots got into the action as Ross Martin nailed a 55 yard field goal, and Chandler Worthy had a 52 yard punt return. Does it guarantee anything? No, but it is nice to enter the season with some degree of optimism about a unit that cost the Jets so dearly last year.
5. Bryce Petty didn't take advantage of his opportunity: After a really good day at the office last week, Bryce Petty had a chance to made a strong case for the backup quarterback job. Instead, he essentially ended the competition in Geno Smith's favor with an erratic passing game. He missed open receivers and then threw a pick six on a screen. One of these days the Jets will draft a quarterback who doesn't throw pick sixes on screens. In any event, Petty likely played his way onto the roster in the first two preseason games, and he played his way out of the backup competition in the third.
6. We saw why people say Christian Hackenberg has talent, and we saw why Christian Hackenberg needs to sit: Hackenberg's first drive was very nice. He showed a big arm, nice touch, and an ability to scan the field at various points. We also saw inconsistent mechanics along the way and a really bad decision that led to an interception. There is clear ability here, but this is a player who needs to sit for at least a year and learn.
7. David Harris' injury might have a much longer lasting effect than anything else we saw last night: Yeah, Fitzpatrick was bad, and the special teams were good. How much does any of that really mean? Does anybody remember how the Jets looked last preseason or two years ago in preseason? Preseason performance doesn't matter a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. Avoiding injury in preseason does matter a lot, and a really important piece of the defense left the field hurt last night.