After eight quarters and over 100 plays from scrimmage, the Jets have yet to reach the end zone.
Despite what is beginning to look like a dominant defense, the inability of the Jets to move the ball effectively, let alone score touchdowns, is worrisome.
Saturday night’s 26-3 loss to the Giants was a microcosm of the Jets’ preseason so far. Through two games they’ve been outgained 443 yards to 321 yards and have half the passing yards of their opponents. The return to a heavier emphasis on the ground game this season has resulted in just 3.5 yards per carry. All this while allowing 12 sacks and seeing their quarterbacks get thrown around like rag dolls.
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But panic time for the Jets? Nah.
“We’re not concerned; we’re just trying to get everyone on the same page. Once we get that, we know we can score touchdowns. It just isn’t clicking right now but that doesn’t mean it won’t,” running back Joe McKnight said after the game Saturday. “If all our players can play at the right time, we can be the best team in the league.”
The Jets have been without their three most experienced wide receivers with Santonio Holmes, Chaz Schillens and Jeremy Kerley all having missed the first two preseason games due to injury. The lack of playmakers on offense showed, with the Jets relying on unproven targets.
It also didn’t help that Mark Sanchez threw a ball to Patrick Turner that turned into a pick six when the Jets were driving in the second quarter.
“A lot of it is the physical part of it, like the throw to P.T. is a great example. Can I make that throw 100 out of 100 times? Absolutely. Was it a bad read? No way. Great read, just put it out in front of him,” Sanchez said on Monday. “I’ve done it 100 times. It has to happen in the game. Everyone is telling you, ‘Yeah you’re 9-for-11, that is great,’ but you can’t miss that one. It just shows you how fragile it is.”
But the inability to move the ball was exasperated by the fact that the Jets converted just seven percent on third downs, dooming the team to a high number of three-and-outs.
All of this makes the game on Sunday night against the Panthers a little more important, given the impetus to move the ball and get points.
“Obviously you want to score, but it’s still a long journey through preseason and there’s still plenty of time to panic later. That’s what we’re trying to do and focus on getting better,” center Nick Mangold said. “We’re going to go out there and strive to get better. That’s where we need to be.”
» After missing the first two games of preseason and portions of training camp due to an injury to his ribs, wide receiver Santonio Holmes returned to the practice field on Monday and went through team drills. Wearing a red pinnie that signified “no contact,” Holmes showed some rust with an occasional drop but seemed eager as the Jets eye possibly playing him on Sunday night against Carolina.
“I think he will be ready,” head coach Rex Ryan said.
The senior-most member of the Jets receiving corps, Holmes is clearly the team’s most important playmaker and the one proven threat this team has on offense.
“We have to bring him along as fast we can, get him out there running as much as possible and get our timing back,” Sanchez said.
» An injury to his left MCL in the preseason opening loss at the Bengals likely means Jets safety Eric Smith will miss the rest of preseason. Smith is hopeful, however, that he can be ready for Week 1 against Buffalo.
“I’m doing well but it is very early,” Smith said. When asked if he envisions being ready for the regular season, Smith came across as vaguely optimistic. “Hopefully, we’ll see.”
Smith was on the field and shadowed the secondary during the team’s afternoon practice.
» Wide receiver Chaz Schilens did not practice with an ankle injury and he told Metro he likely won’t play on Sunday. But Schilens is eyeing the team’s fourth preseason game to return to the field.
Typically the last preseason game is relegated to backup players and those wanting to make an impression to make the team. Schilens just sees it as potential playing time.
“It’d be great for me to just get on the field and get some snaps, get some action. That’s what I really want right now,” Schilens said.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.