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Six winners and four losers from the Jets preseason opening loss to the Browns

New York Jets v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

Winners

Mekhi Becton: There weren’t many players relevant to the 2023 Jets who took the field Thursday night in Canton. Becton was one of the few exceptions. The Jets have two large question marks at the tackle spots. With a 39 year old quarterback, pass protection is critical for the offense. Becton only played seven snaps, but he looked very good in his brief time on the field. How much does it mean? Is Becton in the mix to start? Should there be any concern after Becton and the coaching staff subtly alluded to some discomfort in his knee cutting his night short? It’s tough to say, but I don’t think Becton could have done more in the snaps he did get.

Zach Wilson: It’s a long road back for Zach Wilson. As much as anything, I think the Jets are looking to build his confidence up in the preseason. His abbreviated night was highlighted by a long ball deep down the left sideline that went for a 57 yard completion. Everything about Wilson will likely be overanalyzed during the preseason, but his first night goes down as a success.

Will McDonald: McDonald will probably spend his rookie season at the back of the Jets’ defensive line rotation, making preseason snaps the most significant reps he will get. In his NFL debut, he destroyed a bootleg play by not biting on a fake. In the second half he generated pressure by executing an effective spin move. McDonald’s spin move was a work in progress at Iowa State so it’s nice to see any signs of progress.

Malik Taylor: Preseason can be a playground for a 27 year old with four years of experience. It is a chance to feast on young players who aren’t developed and lack starting ability. It shouldn’t be a big surprise to see him get open for a deep ball. The path to a roster spot for the number six receiver is on special teams, and Taylor made an excellent tackle in punt coverage.

Xavier Gipson: On that note, Gipson atoned for an early drop of a punt with a 45 yard kickoff return. The kickoff return loses significance by the year in the NFL, but the ability to make explosive run backs still has some degree of value for a player battling for one of the last roster spots.

Greg Zuerlein: Zuerlein isn’t a winner in the sense that he is in a tight battle for his job, but it’s nice to enter the season feeling like the kicker spot is solid for once. Greg the Leg connected on all three of his field goals.

Losers

Brandin Echols: After making a nice early run stop, Echols had a terrible game. He committed multiple penalties and had an interception go through his hands. At the moment I would guess Echols is the top backup cornerback, but that could change quickly if he doesn’t step it up.

Jason Brownlee: I don’t want to go overboard getting on an undrafted rookie in his first preseason game. It’s just after all the hype he got from training camp practices, I was expecting something more than 2 catches for 17 yards and a pair of drops. You can only read so much into a handful of reps, but the Jets probably only have a single roster spot open at wide receiver. Two of Brownlee’s competitors made special teams contributions, while Brownlee had a quiet game.

Tim Boyle: NFL rule changes in the offseason have returned us to the days where carrying three quarterbacks on the 53 man roster is essential. In this game, Boyle did little to show he is a good option for that role. Not that you expect any third string quarterback to look great, but I didn’t see much to suggest Boyle is better than a quarterback the Jets could sign off the street.

Chris Streveler: It seems like the preseason magic of 2022 has worn off. Streveler has limited upside as a situational player unless he improves his passing. It doesn’t look much better after one preseason game. And while there’s a case to be made for Streveler as a change of pace quarterback in a rushing package, such a package makes way less sense for a team with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback than it did a year ago for a team running Zach Wilson/Joe Flacco/Mike White out there.