It was a second punch to the New York Jets this week, this one a gut punch in a 23-3 loss at the Detroit Lions in the preseason opener for both teams.
Sloppiness abounded in the game as the defense took poor angles, were inconsistent in their tackling and looked every bit like a team that went through a roster overhaul this offseason...which they did. While not a lot of stock is put into preseason, what was concerning was the way the Lions ran the ball on the Jets, especially with the first-team defense in the game.
But keep in mind that this defense barely blitzed, a staple of first-year head coach Todd Bowles scheme. The unit kept it bland, surely to keep too much from going on gamefilm for their opponents in the regular season. Without the pass rush the defense surrendered plenty of yardage and looked inept. It wasn't by design but was the outcome of a vanilla defense.
Oh, and it was the first game for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick taking snaps as the team's starter in lieu of Geno Smith, who underwent jaw surgery after the sucker punch heard round the NFL.
It says something when the two best Jets on the night were special teamers as kicker Nick Folk (34-yard field goal on the game's opening drive) and punter Ryan Quigley (averaged 46 yards per punt) had solid displays.
Three Takeaways from Thursday Night's Preseason Opener:
Fitzmagic – The 'Bearded One' did some very good things for the Jets in his one series on the field. He didn't pass a whole lot, in fact offensive coordinator Chan Gailey went heavy with running back Chris Ivory when the first-team offense was on the field. But he was 2-for-3 for 16 yards and showed some good accuracy. Truthfully, his numbers should have been higher but tight end Jeff Cumberland bobbled a very catchable pass right into his bread basket. Still, there is every reason to believe that Fitzpatrick, in an offense he already knows well, can be efficient with this unit. He showed that in limited reps on Thursday night.
The Stable of Backs is Stable – The aforementioned Ivory was solid and crisp, hitting the hole hard with six carries for 25 yards. Bilal Powell also did some nice things with eight carries for 36 yards, showing some good cutback ability and a mix of speed with power. Once the Jets get Stevan Ridley healthy, they will have some good competition to go along with Zac Stacy.
The Game is Done – Given the hellish week that the Jets had and the negative storylines around the team, it was good for the team to just go out there and play some football. There were injury concerns to linebacker Erin Henderson and tight end Jace Amaro but the Jets, simply by virtue of playing a preseason game, changed the narrative around them. They didn't have to talk about a sucker-punch but rather about an actual preseason game. Granted it was a loss and a rather ugly one but it changed the tone around this team. That right there is a win and surely a relief.