The first pre-season game is probably the most stress-free game of the season. Nearly all of your starters are spectators and the backups who do play, tend to only stay in for a series or two. So as fans, we can largely sit back and relax.
It doesn’t mean it’s a good game, but it gives certain players fighting for their NFL futures a chance to stake a claim.
Jets first-round pick Will McDonald made his debut last night and while his stats won’t pop off the screen at your (2 tackles), I thought he flashed the potential that made him a first-round pick.
He had multiple pressures on the night including this QB hit on 3rd down which forced a punt.
During the week McDonald said how he based his spin move on Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crossby, and you can see the same kind of quickness paired with violence in the above clip.
We knew that McDonald was fast, and he showcased his get-off and acceleration on multiple occasions last night. I don’t think I appreciated how good his hands were, and while that’s now featured in the above clip, it was evident throughout the night.
Coach Saleh has said that to reach his potential he’s going to need to learn to run through tackles, and we have to keep in mind that he was going against 2nd and 3rd string tackles here, but his speed is going to cause an issue from day one...if used at the right time.
He was asked after the game to evaluate his performance:
“It’s my first game, I’ve definitely got to make a lot of improvements and keep critiquing my game...going out there and taking one play at a time...It felt good (QB hit), but I didn’t get the sack, I wish I’d have got the sack, that would have felt better than just a QB hit, but I made sure he felt me so it’s all good”
Seeing McDonald’s progress through the pre-season is going to be interesting to watch as he develops his game and pass-rushing repertoire. But I want to see more of that spin move, being able to spin at that speed and maintain your balance and pursuit, there aren’t a lot of guys who can do that, which gives McDonald a unique skillset.