The Snoopy Bowl was a dog of a game, for the most part, as both the Jets and Giants tried their best to fight through the malaise.
The final score, a 21-20 comeback win by the Giants, really wasn’t the main point, but rather that both teams exited the contest relatively unscathed.
The starters for both outfits essentially played to a draw, as neither squad’s prime players had much success against each other. The only score by either of the team’s starters came on a 22-yard strike from Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to wideout Eric Decker with five minutes remaining in the first half.
But that was about all the success Fitzpatrick has seen during his 56-play summer. The veteran journeyman, turned irreplaceable starter for Gang Green, has looked rusty during his brief appearances. Surely, his late-summer signing just minutes before the team’s first meeting of training camp hasn’t helped his cause, as Fitzpatrick’s “Fitzmagic” has shown Jets’ fans the cruelest of disappearance acts.
And with the starting offense likely to get a night off in next weekend’s preseason finale in Philadelphia, Fitzpatrick and co. will need to manufacture some cohesion during practices and hope it translates on the field against the Cincinnati Bengals by the Sept. 11 opening day.
Head coach Todd Bowles had hoped to have seen his starting offense shake the doldrums, but all he got instead was more unanswered questions.
“We can get better. We missed some plays. But the biggest thing we don’t need to have is the turnovers,” Bowles said. “We’re not close. We still have a lot to do before opening day.”
Of course it didn’t help that wideout Brandon Marshall was a last-minute scratch, as Bowles wanted the star receiver to nurse his banged-up hip. But Fitzpatrick and the offense’s sluggishness goes beyond that.
So far this summer, the Fitzpatrick-led offense has generated a mere 14 points during 10 possessions in three games. Even with his final throw of the night – and probably summer – the 22-yard strike to Decker, it’s been a cruel, cruel summer for the bearded one. Fitzpatrick looked jumpy and out of synch. Perhaps a lot of that had to do with a revamped and pricey Giants defense. But nevertheless, this is not the look of the same Fitzpatrick who had a career year, last season, and was the guy Jets fans were clamoring for during his time away from the team. Instead, by overthrowing wide-open receivers and fumbling in the red zone, he’s looking more like the guy who was a journeyman until the Jets happened into his life.
The play of Fitzpatrick wasn’t the only downer, though, because overall, Jets quarterbacks committed three turnovers. Geno Smith entered the game to immediate boos, and justified the cascade with uninspiring play in going 3-of-4 for 14 yards in just two series of play. Bryce Petty (5-of-10 for 52 yards) got a nice long look, but his night was marred by a 73-yard pick-six by defensive lineman Kerry Wynn. Many thought Saturday night was the night Petty could finally overthrow Smith as the No. 2 quarterback. It was a failed mission. Even Christian Hackenberg got into the game for the first time in his career. And he played as uneven as his predecessors. The rookie went 6-of-16 for a game-high 105 yards and a pristine touchdown throw, but that, too, was marred by an ill-advised interception deep in Jets’ territory that set up the Giants’ winning touchdown. The former Penn State star’s night started off hot, connecting on his first four professional throws, but ended with a thud. So, essentially, nothing was gained by any of the four signal callers.
Bowles could only offer tepid responses when asked about the quarterback play, noting they “can’t have the turnovers” that three of the four committed.
If not for that amazing defense, the Jets’ offensive inabilities would be the leading storyline. So, until the offense rights itself, the franchise must hang its hat on field position and a stout defense – and hope its struggling quarterback finds that old magic.
Gang Green notes:
- Linebacker David Harris suffered a shoulder injury on the final defensive play of the first half and didn’t return. Bowles said more tests need to be run before further commenting.
- Marshall wasn’t the only one to sit out, as wide receivers Quincy Enunwa and Kenbrell Thompkins were joined by cornerback Dexter McDougle.
- Regarding Marshall, Bowles said it was the right decision: “He has sore hips … we held him out and wanted to see what the young guys could do. That decision was made yesterday [Friday].”
- Running back Matt Forte made his Jets debut after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury. He finished with 12 touches — 10 carries for 28 yards and two catches for nine yards. The versatile back showed some flashes, though, and was actually used all over the field, as he was even seen split out wide as a receiver.
- The Jets’ rushing attack as a whole wasn’t great, though, as the starters were contained to just 46 yards on 14 carries.
- The defense was bolstered by the return of defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, who made his first preseason appearance. He immediately made his presence known by stymieing running back Rashad Jennings for no gain on the very first play.
- Overall, the Jets’ starting defense allowed just 47 total yards, three first downs, an interception by Darrelle Revis, and zero points.