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Jets Win Preseason Opener - Instant Takeaways

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NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New York Jets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets won their preseason opener over the Falcons by a score of 17-0. Here are some of my positive and negative takeaways from the game.

*Note - the “it’s only preseason” disclaimer applies to every line below.

POSITIVES

  • Quarterbacks: Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Darnold were both terrific. Bridgewater captained two scoring drives, completing 7 of 8 passes for 85 yards. He was mostly on time and accurate and was comfortable inside the pocket, bouncing back from contact.

Darnold finished 13 of 18 for 96 yards and 1 touchdown. His first drive was a thing of beauty. 10 plays, 64 yards, and culminating in a touchdown to Charles Johnson right after Johnson blew two Darnold touchdowns with a drop in the end zone and an offensive pass interference. Darnold spread the ball to a multitude of receivers across the reserve depth chart. He showcased his mobility and ability to scan the field. He did not generate anything downfield, but he was not helped by an array of miscommunications with his receivers and his supporting cast failing to separate deep. Darnold can still improve here, but it’s not an area of concern just yet. He came in and was poised and promising. He looked far from lost - and that was the primary aspect you wanted to see. He looked like an NFL quarterback.

  • Tight ends: Clive Walford and Neal Sterling stood out. Sterling caught 4 balls for 38 yards. Walford caught 2 for 27. Both generated some of the Jets’ only downfield passing yardage and did a nice job moving the sticks.
  • Nathan Shepherd: He showcased a great motor and was very active throughout the game. One play that stood out to me most was a late tackle made by a teammate in which Shepherd ate up about 3 blockers to open up the lane to the ball. He seems to already have enough wherewithal to make use of his tremendous body and be disruptive from the get-go.
  • Neville Hewitt: He took advantage of an Xavier Cooper tip for an interception and racked up 8 tackles and an additional defended pass.
  • Derrick Jones: Jones was mostly solid in coverage and stood out with an impressive lockdown rep on a 4th down goal-line fade. It was nice to see him back up a lot of his preseason hype.
  • First-team offensive line: The Jets seemed to run the ball very well with the starters in. Spencer Long stood out to me on multiple plays.
  • Entire defense: The Jets’ defense obliterated the Falcons’ offense throughout the game at every level of the depth chart. The Jets owned the line of scrimmage, tackled well, and held up in the red zone.

NEGATIVES

  • Trenton Cannon: He muffed two punts that were fortunately both recovered by the Jets. With the Jets sporting a 3-deep RB depth chart when Elijah McGuire is healthy, Cannon really needs to show versatility to stick on the roster. Proving himself all but incapable of playing the punt returner position was not a step towards that goal.

Cannon did showcase solid change-of-direction quickness as a rusher, however.

  • Chris Herndon: Herndon mysteriously did not appear at the game, with little information on his absence available at this point. The rookie has created a lot of preseason buzz but definitely lost at least some ground to his competition tonight.
  • ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen: Twelve Jets caught a pass tonight, and none of them were among the 2 wide receivers selected by the team in last year’s draft. Stewart saw only 2 targets and flubbed both. He ran a poor route that nearly led to a Darnold interception and then dropped a route crossing over the field. Hansen did not even earn a target. This was not what either of these young players needed to earn ground in a crowded receiver competition.

What were your thoughts?