Calvin Pryor looked good Saturday in his first game action. Credit: Getty Images
The Jets looked overmatched early, but they rallied for a 25-17 win over Cincinnati to improve to 2-0 this preseason.
And while there are certainly plenty of worries, New York looked improved from its narrow victory over the Colts a week ago.
Most eyes have been on Geno Smith and Michael Vick this preseason, and both quarterbacks looked solid. It appears highly unlikely Vick can unseat Smith as the starter, as the so-called competition has always been tilted heavily in favor of the incumbent. But if Smith is going to win the starting job by default, it's at least nice to see the second-year signal caller looking improved from a season ago.
Smith finished the game 10-of-13 for 98 yards with one rushing touchdown and one interception as he played the whole first half. The interception was a miscommunication between he and receiver David Nelson, and not an ugly mistake, though. Vick went 5-of-9 for 70 yards and a touchdown — a dump-off to Clyde Gates — on his final play. Vick played for three drives and showed he is still a competent QB in the league.
Smith should get the bulk of playing time next week against the Giants in the traditional dress rehearsal for Week 1.
Metro takes a look at what else we learned Saturday, outside of the quarterback battle.
1. Secondary is screwed
Outside of the quarterbacks, all eyes were on the banged-up secondary for the Jets against a talented Bengals receiving corps. Score this one a first-round knockout for Andy Dalton and company. The Bengals QB finished 8-of-8 for 144 yards and a touchdown as he systematically picked apart the defense. With cornerbacks Dee Milliner, Dimitri Patterson and Dexter McDougle all out, the patchwork secondary never stood a chance. Dalton particularly picked on Kyle Wilson, who surrendered a touchdown to former Rutgers wideout Mohamed Sanu. Wilson, who Rex Ryan is afraid to play anywhere but the slot even with injuries decimating the group, shouldn't be playing period. Antonio Allen, traditionally a safety, got his first game-time action as a cornerback and he was overmatched by A.J. Green. It's probably too early to call that experiment a failure, however, as many experienced cornerbacks get burned by the Pro Bowler Green on a regular basis. Milliner can't get back from his sprained ankle soon enough.
2. Pryor commitment
There was one good sign in the secondary, however. Rookie first-round pick Calvin Pryor got his first action of preseason after dealing with a concussion much of training camp. And the rookie lived up to the hype. Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman had him playing all over the field and he looked good in every role. He was especially impressive up at the line of scrimmage, and blitzing. He played into the fourth quarter and led the team with seven tackles. He also had a couple pass breakups and a tackle for loss as he flew into the backfield to drill the running back. He also recovered a fumble. The depth he gives the Jets at safety will allow Allen to play on the outside, should that experiment be a success.
3. On the run
Whether it's Smith or Vick who starts, the success of the offense will be decided by the running game. Chris Johnson showed why he was such an important signing after a quiet debut last week. He finished with 10 carries for 63 yards, including a long of 15 yards. Johnson barely played in the preseason during his prime with the Titans, so it was nice to see him out there looking ready to go in Week 1. Bilal Powell, who always gets overlooked by Johnson and Chris Ivory, was even more impressive. He had four carries for 41 yards and a touchdown. It's not crazy to think the Jets may have the best backfield in the NFL once Ivory is ready to go.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter@MetroNYSports.