The New York Jets are a perfect 2-0 in the preseason, coming back from a 17-3 deficit Saturday to topple Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals by the final of 25-17. Yes, it’s only preseason, but few in Green and White had forgotten the 49-9 regular season beating handed to Rex Ryan and his Jets last year. Payback? Not exactly… but a win is a win (even a win where you commit 13 penalties, including 7 personal fouls). Rex said it best, “obviously we got some work to do.”
After the season-ending injury to Dexter McDougle, and the ankle sprain suffered by Dee Milliner, the spotlight has been on the secondary as well as GM John Idzik. Milliner is expected to return, but when, and how effective are questions left up in the air. Idzik may be scouring 31 other rosters for possible cuts, but on Saturday, the Jets were left with Antonio Allen sliding over from his usual safety spot and starting at corner. When told he’d be responsible for Bengals standout WR AJ Green, Allen said he was “amped up.” Who wouldn’t be going up against one of the best? Allen continued, “I was thinking, it’s going to be an all-out fight, me and him, best man wins.”
Allen had a good week of practice, defending some pass attempts as well as picking off a pass or two. Was he ready to play corner against a WR like AJ Green, with a “100 million-dollar quarterback” slinging him the rock? I wouldn’t blame Allen’s inexperience for Dalton’s perfect night, but the red-haired gunslinger was able to go 8 of 8 for 144 yards and a touchdown. On a couple of well-thrown balls, Kyle Wilson can be seen trailing open receivers as they effort for more yards after the catch. “I know you guys love Kyle, you’ll be all over him, but we blew a coverage,” explained the team’s head coach. It’s rare Rex jumps his players in the press, even when he’s wide-open to do so.
Last September, in a 27-20 victory over the Bills, Kyle Wilson committed three consecutive penalties (holding, illegal contact and a personal foul) and was yanked off the field by DC Dennis Thurman (no, not literally). After the game, Rex didn’t single out his overmatched CB, but chided the team asking “how many games are you going to win when you turn the ball over twice and commit 20 penalties” and referring to “self-inflicted things” when asked directly. I’m sure Geno Smith still remembers his “brutal” practice from last season, as Rex took a calculated shot at his young QB early in the maturation process.
Speaking of the QBs, both Geno Smith and Mike Vick looked good again. Geno ran for a 1-yd score, and went 10 of 13 for 98 yards. He had one interception that looked more like a little miscommunication between he and David Nelson, who played in place of Eric Decker on Saturday. Nelson turns inside just as Geno throws outside, and CB Terence Newman gets his name in the paper with the room-service INT. Vick went 5 of 9 for 70 yards, including a 17-yd TD to Clyde Gates. What started as a QB competition has turned into more of a QB collaboration, as both seem to have all the right answers to any seemingly divisive questions. Geno even shrugged off a question about the wildcat, saying “it’s up to the coaches when and where (Vick) will (run it).”
When it comes to running the football in 2014, I hope the coaches put the ball in the hands of Chris Johnson, Chris Ivory or Bilal Powel before they try Vick on designed runs. Ivory had the night off, but Johnson (10 for 63yds) and Powell (4 for 41yds) showed the ground-game will be a weapon the Jets can continue to pound down an opponent’s throat. Even Daryl Richardson showed some moves on his 26-yard reception from Mike Vick on third and twenty! What the Jets may lack in depth at the CB position, they have in bunches at RB.
Depth at TE is a plus too, and Jeff Cumberland, Jace Amaro and Zach Sudfeld add depth to a pass-catching group looking to improve from last year’s lackluster performance. Decker will insure improvement, but will they have a reliable receiver in the Stephen Hill project, or will he be supplanted by David Nelson, Jacoby Ford, Jalen Saunders etc. for his consistent drops. Saunders missed the game Saturday after being involved in a one-car accident on the way to the team’s facility Friday morning. Police reports indicate Saunders “experienced a medical event” while trying to make a turn less than a mile from his destination. Let’s wish Jalen a speedy recovery!!
From one rookie who didn’t play, to one rookie that played exceptionally well… Calvin Pryor! Rex may’ve exaggerated Pryor’s efforts during the postgame, but anyone who saw him play Saturday knows Rex has that hard-hitting top to his defense he’s been looking for. Pryor recovered a fumble caused by Demario Davis, and had more than one bone-jarring hits. His hits may not go viral online like a Jadeveon Clowney slobber-knocker, but the Louisville Slugger brought some much-needed wood. If only he could help the Yanks and Mets with their bats… but I digress. He and his teammates have their next opportunity to impress Friday at MetLife Stadium against the New York Giants.
-Joseph Haas Editor, HCoftheNYJ.com
WEEK 1: vs Indianapolis Colts (Jets win 13-10 at MetLife Stadium)
WEEK 2: at Cincinnati Bengals (Jets win 25-17 at Paul Brown Stadium)
WEEK 3: vs New York Giants, FRIDAY August 22, 2014 at MetLife Stadium
WEEK 4: at Philadelphia Eagles, THURSDAY August 28, 2014 at Lincoln Financial Field a.k.a The Linc
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