Here are some scattered thoughts of mine the day after the Jets beat the Eagles in their preseason opener.
- I say it every year, but to me either “winning” or “losing” in preseason is ultimately about avoiding injuries. Sure you’d prefer the team to play well. It beats the alternative. You also want young players to look like they are developing.
Let’s be honest, though. Once Week 1 comes, nobody remembers much of anything about how well anybody played during preseason. The lasting impacts are the injures, the players who aren’t there because they got hurt in preseason.
To me if you go through preseason without suffering a major injury, your team could have looked more inept than the 2017 Browns or the 2008 Lions. You are still a winner.
Unfortunately I think more people are going to agree with my sentiments this year than usually do. The silver lining is that it sounds like the Jets have dodged a bullet, and the worst case scenario with Zach Wilson has been avoided.
- I don’t feel like the Jets are a particularly quarterback dependent team in 2022. This is by design. Instead of asking the second year quarterback to be Superman, the team has built a stable infrastructure (at least on paper) that can help lift him up as much as he lifts the team.
If all goes to plan, this means the Jets will simply need competency at quarterback to have success on offense.
To me this is one of the things that makes their handling of the backup quarterback spot all the more frustrating. If Aaron Rodgers goes down, the Packers are doomed even if they have a top three backup.
It shouldn’t have been hard to find a competent backup to give the Jets some degree of credibility.
With all due respect to Joe Flacco who has had a tremendous career, he is past the point where it is realistic to expect 17 competent games if needed. What Flacco might be able to do is summon up one more brilliant game or perhaps even a second.
Fortunately that’s what the Jets need now. But last night is a reminder of how quickly they might find themselves in a situation where they need more, and I feel Joe Douglas has left them unprepared.
- I am sure the Jets are going to drill into Zach Wilson the need to slide when he’s near a defender. What happened last night was a freak injury. It could have happened just as easily maneuvering away from a pass rusher. Still, Zach was trying to put a move on a defender and leaving himself vulnerable to a hit. Open field running is never going to be a big part of Zach’s game so hopefully he learns just to take what he is given and not attempt to do more. The run against Jacksonville last year was fun, but it’s not going to be how he makes his living in the league.
- As for Zach’s brief play last night, obviously it wasn’t great. Not all interceptions are created equal. The one he threw was pretty ugly. The play the Jets ran was Quarterbacking 101 in NFL. It should be executed like clockwork. Zach also airmailed an easy throw to Garrett Wilson.
What should we take from this? I’d say not much. If you’ve watched the NFL, you know a quarterback can get off to a slow start and then heat up. Since quarterbacks don’t get four full quarters in preseason games, we tend to fixate on their performance in small fractions of real game time.
Every single year we tell ourselves that we aren't going to obsess over the small sample size that is preseason. Yet once the games are played what do we do? We obsess over that small sample size.
Please join me in refraining.
- On a similar note, I don’t think the panic over the Jets defense is justified. The scheme they were playing was extremely vanilla. The starters also didn’t go very deep into the game.
I think about Adam Gase’s first preseason game. The Jets offense marched right down the field and scored a touchdown. This led to a week of Jets fans going on about how amazing the offense would be.
Once the real games began...not so much. As it turns out, one preseason series isn’t a great predictor of season-long performance.
It is also worth noting that the Jets first team defense actually got a stop that was negated by a boneheaded penalty by Quincy Williams.
- Williams was a guy I had my eye on last night for the brief time he was on the field. The Jets coaching staff has made plenty of noise about his untapped potential. Williams makes his share of splash plays because of his aggression.
Sometimes that aggression also leads him to run himself out of position.
I was looking to see whether there were signs that Quincy was better channeling that aggression, picking his spots to make the big plays but not overdoing it to the point where he was failing to make others.
The early returns were not great. Not only did he have a late hit out of bounds, he also whiffed on a tackle taking what appeared to be a bad angle (albeit helped by a nudge that was a borderline block in the back).
Again I don’t want to read too much into a handful of plays. It is just the first chapter of this story.
- Unfortunately I’m not sure I can say the same for Denzel Mims. It felt like he was putting together a nice night with a pair of drive-extending receptions.
Then came a penalty for incorrectly lining up and a drop, two issues that plagued him last year.
History already isn’t favorable to Mims. I think the last case for him is that he had an offseason to clear his head and come back a different player. However, we saw the exact same mental errors that were staples of his disaster 2021.
Look, I was the biggest cheerleader when the Jets picked Mims. I thought he was going to be great, but sometimes you just to face the truth.
Mims might have all of the physical ability to succeed at wide receiver in the NFL, but so do plenty of guys. Almost all of the evidence we have points to him not being an effective NFL player. At some point, potential ceases to be potential, and you are what you are.
Mims isn’t a productive wide receiver. This isn’t about a handful of preseason snaps. It’s a much longer trend.