What did we learn from the Jets' preseason opener? - Metro US

What did we learn from the Jets’ preseason opener?

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The Jets got through their first preseason game relatively unscathed, which is the most important factor of the exhibition season for every team.

Fresh off their 17-13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, at MetLife Stadium, Gang Green looked good in most spots, but still have questions that need answering.

Ryan Fitzpatrick (3-of-4, 72 yards, 116.7 quarterback rating) didn’t light it up, as he only played two series with the starters, but the throws he did make were sharp and in good timing. Fitzpatrick looked right at home, almost immediately, with a prime example being his 42-yard dime drop to Quincy Enunwa to end the first quarter. He led the Jets to a touchdown-scoring drive, capped by Bilal Powell’s four-yard touchdown run.

New York had its fair share of starters sitting out, including defensive end Mo Wilkerson, cornerback Darrelle Revis, defensive tackle Steve McLendon, and running back Matt Forte, so it was difficult to truly gauge the team. But from what Jets’ fans saw from the rest, they should’ve left MetLife Stadium in decent spirits, because Gang Green appears to have good depth across the board.

Here’sa look back at key moments from their maiden preseason game.

What We Saw:

Undermanned defense: Jacksonville, which has turned into the chic pick this season, looked very good on offense – particularly with the starters. There’s a few reasons why analysts are high on the young Jags, and it’s because of burgeoning quarterback Blake Bortles, wideouts Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, and running back Chris Ivory, who defected from the Jets this summer, via free agency. Bortles (6-of-7 for 105 yards) was the most efficient quarterback on the field in his two series, but keep in mind the absences of integral players like Wilkerson, McLendon, and Revis. But even with that caveat, a 10-0 lead over most of the Jets’ starters and eight first downs on those two series is a good indicator that head coach Todd Bowles will use that opening quarter as a teachable moment and get his defense back on track.

Stopping the run: Staying with the defensive theme, the Jets’ starters saw three Jaguar running backs average a collective 4.7 yards per carry. Ivory, the former Jet, tallied 26 yards and a touchdown on six carries, T.J. Yeldon added 26 yards and a healthy 6.5 yards per carry average, and Denard Robinson, a converted quarterback, added 23 yards in limited work. Jacksonville’s run blocking isn’t considered among the league’s elite, which could be of some concern for Bowles and his staff. Naturally, a preseason game – particularly the opener – won’t totally keep Bowles and his staff up at night, but there has to be some concern with an average Jacksonville offensive line opening holes rather easily.

Quarterbacks not named Fitz: Geno Smith celebrated the one-year anniversary of “The Punch” by getting booed by Jets fans almost immediately after he entered the game with nine minutes remaining in the first half. As soon as the maligned quarterback skipped a few ground balls, the boo-birds began. But Smith managed to bounce back and produce a rather productive evening in going 8-of-14 for 79 yards, including a nice 17-yard touchdown pass to seventh-rounder Charone Peake with 22 seconds remaining in the half, to give New York the 14-13 lead. It was a typical Smith outing, as he showed some athleticism and poise, but also had his accuracy issues rear its head at times. While rookie Christian Hackenberg didn’t play, Bryce Petty got in and went 7-of-14 for 93 yards. He didn’t light it up like Brett Favre, as he said he wanted to do, but he still showed some flashes – and young Favre-ian tendencies by taking ill-advised sacks and holding onto the ball a little too much.

Rough start for Dee Milliner: Other than Geno Smith, there aren’t many on the Jets roster that are as maligned as the third-year cornerback. Jaguars’ wideouts had their way with Milliner, particularly Robinson, who had three catches for 80 yards, including an acrobatic catch for 45-yards towards the end of the first quarter that set up the Ivory score. Milliner allowed a couple of “explosion plays,” as Bowles likes to call them, including a huge gain by Tony Washington, who juked Milliner early in the route and burst past him for the reception in front of the flailing cornerback. Milliner is currently the fourth cornerback, who will see action primarily on nickel (five defensive backs) and dime (six or more defensive backs) packages. That’s not good enough for a guy who was once the ninth overall pick. This is a big summer for him.

Gang Green notes:

  • Jets special teamers, particularly the return unit, will make it difficult on cut-down days. New York had kickoff returns of 51 yards (by veteran Jeremy Ross) and 84 yards (undrafted rookie Jalin Marshall), respectively, that directly led to 10 points. Those are the types of plays that get fringe guys noticed – and employed.

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