Sam Darnold has earned the starting job - Darnold posted another “meh” box score line, completing 8 of 16 passes for 86 yards (a measly 5.4 yards per attempt) and an 87.0 quarterback rating, but the man was on point once again. He was helped out by a few very nice plays by his starting supporting cast, but also hurt by a few drops, while adding a clutch rush for a first on 3rd down. Darnold was active before the snap and poised after it once again, looking every bit like a player who is mentally ready to lead an NFL team. Darnold deserves to start in Detroit.
Starting skill positions - The Jets’ starting skill players made quite a few plays on the Giants’ first team defense. Robby Anderson (though he did have one drop), Quincy Enunwa, Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell, and Terrelle Pryor all helped the Jets score a pair of touchdowns in the first half.
Leonard Williams - He dominated the Giants offensive front in the run and pass game, also coming up with a fumble recovery in the red zone.
Avery Williamson - Williamson led the team with 9 tackles and had a key strip in the red zone. He looks capable of matching the productivity of Demario Davis last season. Can he translate his run defense to an every-down role and improve enough in coverage like Davis did?
Neville Hewitt - The reserve inside linebacker has stood out over the first two games and continued that against the Giants, once again showing great instincts and finding himself constantly involved and making plays on the football short of the sticks.
Frankie Luvu - Luvu came up with the splash play he sorely needed, sacking Kyle Lauletta off the edge late in the game for the team’s only sack of the night. At about 4 years younger than any other outside linebacker on the roster, Luvu has a solid case for a roster spot in a bare position group through that upside alone. Showing up with a big play definitely was a big stock-raiser for him.
Henry Anderson - Anderson created a ton of pressure in the pass game. I can see him claiming the Steve McLendon title this year - having a consistently very positive impact under the disguise of a pedestrian box score line.
Penalties - I have staunchly defended Todd Bowles when discussing this issue, as the man did spearhead a team that was top 5 in fewest penalties from 2015-16, but this is something that can’t continue in the regular season. 13 penalties for 108 yards is unacceptable. It’s the preseason, though. There’s time to iron it out, so don’t come calling for Bowles’ head because of one preseason game. You can blame players for penalties. There’s not much Bowles can do when Brent Qvale decides to clench another man’s jersey.
Regardless, as the head coach, every issue that arises is by nature of the position at least partially on Bowles - and his staff. Whoever is most at fault, the Jets just need to fix the penalty issue. It’s been a problem all throughout camp and preseason.
Special Teams - Issues persisted in literally every phase of this unit. Trenton Cannon fumbled away a kick return for his third fumble in two games. The Jets allowed a punt return TD and still allowed a 15.0 yard return average on the other 6 punt returns they faced. Taylor Bertolet’s perfection ended with a missed extra point. Lachlan Edwards landed only 1 of 7 punts inside of the 20 - punting short on the touchdown and following it with line drives that were too far ahead of the coverage. It was an all-in-all atrocious outing for this unit. Again, hopefully things can be ironed out before the real games start, and the team can decide on a lineup that works.
Secondary - The Jets still have not allowed a touchdown on defense, but they did not get great performances from the corners tonight. Morris Claiborne and Juston Burris in particular both struggled.
Brent Qvale - Man, this guy just finds a way to stand out negatively each week. He is not passable. The Jets sorely need Kelvin Beachum and the rest of this line to get healthy. There is no depth on this unit whatsoever.
Tight ends - None of the tight ends separated themselves in their competition tonight. Eric Tomlinson had two false start penalties and struggled as a blocker. Clive Walford and Chris Herndon failed to collect any catches as they both failed to haul in one catchable target each. Neal Sterling was the winner of the day by default with a 13-yard first down pickup on an underneath route.