Here are five thoughts I have from the Jets’ preseason loss to the Giants last night.
- Sam Darnold should be the starting quarterback Week 1.
Again, Darnold had a pedestrian stat line. He was only 8 of 16 for 84 yards. The stats were deceptive. Before I went to bed last night, I rewatched all of his throws to try and make some sense of the disparity between his numbers and my perception. I was a little sleepy when I was watching, but of the eight incompletions, I saw four hit his receiver in the hand, three throwaways, and one batted down at the line. So every single pass Darnold where Darnold was targeting a receiver last night and got it over the line was on target.
This isn’t to say he played a perfect game. I saw two notable rookie mistakes. One was an intentional grounding penalty. The other was a clock management mistake near the end of the first half. I also haven’t gone through to make sure he made the proper read on every play.
But the biggest takeaway from preseason should be that Darnold doesn’t seem to be in over his head. We aren’t talking about throwing Christian Hackenberg to the lions when he can’t execute basic functions. There are going to be moments where Darnold makes mistakes and looks very bad. But there aren’t any basic skills Darnold needs to develop from the practice field and the bench. I don’t see the benefit in holding him out.
2. The tight end hype should end.
There has been this weird disparity between the amount of hype the tight ends have been getting from training camp practices and the lack of talent/upside the group has. Things came to a head last night as the tight ends played a brutal collective gain.
I estimated that Sam Darnold lost somewhere between 50 and 55 passing yards from throws that hit his receivers in the hands and were not converted into receptions. The tight ends were responsible for approximately 40 of those yards on 3 such passes. The group also accounted for 5 penalties.
Jeremy Bates’ philosophy is built on using the tight end position, but there just isn’t any quality there for the Jets.
3. Special teams was so bad that it was comedic.
During the Kotite Era, the Jets special teams coach was a guy named Ken Rose. If you go back and read news accounts during that era, you probably wouldn’t believe how bad the special teams unit was. Some of the stuff you read seems implausible.
The Ken Rose era is the only thing to which I can equate last night’s performance.
The Jets committed four penalties on special teams, fumbled a kickoff away, missed an extra point, and allowed a punt return for a touchdown.
The only comforting thing is that things have to go up. It’s impossible to sustain a performance that bad over the long haul.
4. The cornerback play is kind of concerning.
The Jets have more money tied up in the cornerback position this year than any team other than the Houston Texans. Without a single proven pass rusher on the team, this defense is going to lean heavily on coverage holding up.
It, therefore, is disconcerting to see Eli Manning throw for 188 yards in the first half.
Trumaine Johnson held up his end of the bargain and played very well. Morris Claiborne, however, was toasted on a deep route, and Buster Skrine was repeatedly beaten.
The Jets still haven’t given up a touchdown in the preseason, but that isn’t going to sustain itself. This isn’t a bend but don’t break system that’s willing to surrender yardage and get tough in the red zone. This is a high risk defense where success is determined by how the corners cover one on one. I foresee pain if things don’t get better.
5. Penalties are also kind of concerning.
One of the ongoing themes of training camp was that the Jets were taking a lot of penalties in practice. Last night they committed 13 penalties.
Some of this is just based on a lack of talent. If you are less skilled, you are going to be beaten and apt to commit a penalty. With that said, there are other discipline issues the team needs to clean up quickly.