Jets quarterback Geno Smith failed to live up to the hype in his first start of preseason but the Jets beat the Giants, 24-21, in an often-sloppy overtime contest.
Last week, the Jets put up a dominating 37-13 score on the Jaguars in a game against an inferior opponent. The Jets resolved some of their issues against the Giants, a popular pick to make the playoffs and perhaps win their division.
First and foremost, Mark Sanchez will likely be the starter after Smith’s dismal showing. Against the Giants’ first-team defense, Smith threw three first-half interceptions, including back-to-back picks at the end of the first quarter, as the rookie looked nowhere near ready to start. He added a fourth-quarter safety, as he accidentally stepped out of the back of the end zone, for good measure.
The only question will be the health of Sanchez, who took a shot to his right shoulder in the fourth quarter, playing behind a third-string offensive line.
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Running backs Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory also failed to get on track, which exasperated the Jets’ offensive woes on the night.
What we learned ...
1. Smith starts
In his first start of preseason, Smith was 16-of-30 for 199 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions as he likely lost the starting quarterback job. Smith was relatively solid two weeks ago in Detroit before a rolled ankle cut short his debut. After a rough start to Saturday’s game with a three-and-out on his first series, Smith settled down to lead an eight-play, 86-yard touchdown drive where he completed 4-of-5 passes for 41 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Ben Obomanu. But after that, the wheels came off as Smith went three-and-out on the next drive and was intercepted on the next two possessions. He looked unsettled and his downfield vision was suspect. In short, he looked like a rookie. Sanchez entered the game in the fourth quarter and while he had a bad fumble, he was relatively sharp and efficient before a Marvin Austin hit sent him to the ground, holding his right shoulder, and cut his night short. Sanchez headed to the locker room early with his throwing shoulder wrapped in ice.
2. The defense responds
The Jets’ first-team defense was supposed to be the strength of the team, but it looked horrid last Saturday as the Jaguars ran an up-tempo offense that spread the ball around quickly and efficiently. Against the more-prolific Giants offense, the unit had a horrible start. The Giants’ first play from scrimmage saw running back David Wilson rumble 84 yards virtually untouched for a 7-0 lead. But after that, the Jets defense played well despite three first-half turnovers by the offense. The play of safety Dawan Landry, who made a nice breakup of an Eli Manning pass in the end zone, was especially encouraging as the back end struggled.
3. Big Snacks is hungry
When nose tackle Kenrick Ellis suffered a lower back injury in the weight room it opened the door for second-year lineman Damon Harrison to get the start and impress. The 6-foot-4, 350-pound Harrison, nicknamed “Big Snacks” by the coaching staff, was impressive as he not only ate up space but made plays. He made a nice tackle in the first quarter on Wilson behind the line and then pursued a screen pass to make a nice diving tackle. Later in the first half, he stuffed the Giants on the goal line. With Ellis not looking like a finished product in this his third year in the league, Harrison is making a serious case to start.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.