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Studs, Duds From Jets’ Preseason Loss to Saints

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NFL: AUG 24 Preseason - Saints at Jets Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

STUDS

Greg Dortch, WR/PR

Dortch busted out another big punt return, breaking free for 27 yards on a second quarter punt from Thomas Morstead. The Wake Forest product continues to impress at the position, now owning an average of 11.3 yards per return across his seven opportunities. Perhaps more importantly, he has not let the football hit the ground yet. It seems clear that Dortch has won the punt returning job.

Alex Brown, CB

While he has not necessarily been spectacular, Brown has been one thing that no other reserve cornerback on the Jets has been — competent. After a strong debut against the Falcons, Brown had another good performance against the Saints, laying some hard hits and playing the ball well. Through two games, he has allowed only three first downs and 44 yards across 13 targets. (Don’t put too much stock into preseason numbers, though.)

Trenton Cannon, RB

While Cannon had another uninspiring game as the kickoff returner (one return for 16 yards), he enjoyed one of his best rushing performances as a Jet. He ran for 51 yards on six carries, setting new career highs (including regular season and preseason) in total yards and yards per carry.

It seems Cannon may have locked up his spot on the roster with his running in that game, even if it was mostly against reserve defenders. He entered the game well before Elijah McGuire, getting the first three touches of the second half and gaining 39 yards on those. He was also in on a few special teams tackles, further adding to his resume in that phase.

Taylor Bertolet, K

Bertolet did exactly what he needed to do with the opportunity presented to him. He had a perfect night, hitting on two long field goals (48 and 56 yards) and making his only extra point attempt. The Jets could still add someone who is cut following the final preseason game, but as of now, it seems Bertolet is the heavy favorite to kick for the Jets in Week 1. His performance against New Orleans may have sealed the deal.

Robby Anderson, WR

Anderson made a pair of nice catches in his limited playing time. He hauled in a slightly underthrown deep bomb from Sam Darnold, showing off his signature ability to adjust on downfield throws. He also picked up 19 yards on an impressively run out route.

Albert McClellan, LB

McClellan was added following Avery Williamson’s injury. Last week I wrote about how good of a special teams resume he brings to the table, and he showed off that skillset immediately against New Orleans, punching the ball out of Dwayne Harris’ hands on a kick return.

Henry Anderson, DE

The other Anderson also had himself a night. In just 24 snaps, Henry Anderson notched two run stuffs, a quarterback hit, and a pass deflection. He has looked phenomenal in the preseason thus far — in my opinion, he has been the team’s best player on defense. The move to re-sign Anderson may turn out to be one of the best decisions of the offseason by the Jets.

DUDS

Reserve cornerbacks (again)

The struggles of the backup DBs have persisted throughout all three preseason games. Yet again, very little was shown by the team’s reserve corners to inspire any confidence they could be relied upon in a real game situation. It appears Joe Douglas will need to be very active on the waiver wire searching for help at this position.

Elijah McGuire

McGuire wasn’t necessarily bad in this game. He picked up 21 yards on five carries, highlighted by a nice 13 yard run in which he bounced outside. However, McGuire simply may have lost a lot of ground due to Cannon’s performance. McGuire has always been a step behind because of Cannon’s ability to contribute on special teams, and it doesn’t seem that McGuire has done enough to make up the ground. The upcoming game against the Eagles could be McGuire’s last opportunity to make a case.

Starting offensive line

The starting offensive line against the Saints featured only two first-team members, with left tackle Kelvin Beachum and right tackle Brandon Shell taking the field. None of the interior starters played, as from left to right, Alex Lewis, Jonotthan Harrison, and Tom Compton started the game. The offensive line depth had looked impressive over the first two games, but they came down to earth a bit against the Saints. Sam Darnold took a few big hits in his limited time, as the offensive front never seemed to be entirely on the same page with its protection.

Matt Darr

It seemed that Darr may have been gaining ground in the punting competition, given that he was the first punter in against Atlanta (and also took holding duties in the first half). However, Lachlan Edwards may have taken control against the Saints. Edwards had a solid punting night, averaging 45 yards of distance across his four opportunities while allowing only 4.5 return yards per kick. He also assumed holding duties into the second half, placing the ball down for all three of Bertolet’s good attempts.

Darr, on the other hand, had a night to forget, due to one big mistake. His 49-yard punt midway through the fourth quarter was returned 78 yards for a touchdown by Dwayne Harris. Darr missed a tackle on the return. He did bounce back well, as his next punt was a 55-yarder returned for one yard, but the touchdown could bury Darr.

To this point of the preseason, among the 30 punters with at least eight attempts so far, Edwards ranks third in net punting average (44.5), while Darr ranks 29th (33.1).