Here are three takeaways I have from the Jets’ 15-13 loss to Washington last night in their second preseason game.
- The quarterback competition should continue for another week.
I thought Sam Darnold could clinch the starting job with a great performance last night. I thought he could lose it with a terrible performance. What we got was something in between. In part because the offensive line was so spotty, the Jets had a very limited passing playbook. Darnold’s reads were typically correct, and he completed 8 of his 11 passes. They just didn’t result in a ton of production.
Teddy Bridgewater held serve. It would have been surprising and disappointing to not see him light up fringe roster players in the second half. He was stellar, going 10 of 15 for 127 yards, and that was with shaky protection and spotty receiver play.
I don’t think the trajectory of this competition changed. This is just a hunch, but I get the feeling that the Jets are rightly or wrongly leaning toward starting Darnold unless he looks overwhelmed. While he wasn’t exceptionally productive on Thursday, I didn’t get the sense he was in over his head against the first team Redskins defense.
There still presumably is another week to go, however. A rough game against the Giants could still leave him on the bench.
2. The Jets have zero offensive line depth.
This isn’t exactly a shock. The starters aren’t so great either, but the results of having two backups in the lineup was ugly. Jonotthan Harrison was beaten cleanly for a sack on the first drive, and Brent Qvale regularly lost his assignments. Qvale’s struggles avoided detection due to the passing game’s focus on getting the ball out of Darnold’s hands quickly.
The good news is Kelvin Beachum and Brian Winters should be back within a few weeks. They might not be great, but they are a cut above these backups.
The bad news is we got a glimpse of the future should the Jets suffer any offensive line injuries. And staying healthy for a season on the offensive line requires a lot of luck.
3. Darron Lee isn’t inspiring confidence.
I consider this a make or break year for Lee. His first two years have been uneven. He now has plenty of experience at the linebacker position and in this system.
I’m not going to draw any definitive conclusions on a handful of preseason snaps, but this was not the type of performance that will create optimism heading into the regular season. A number of the same issues we saw in his first two seasons popped up in his limited action, including a lapse in coverage and struggles taking on blocks. He also took a horsecollar penalty on special teams.