AFC East: 2012 NFL preseason Week 4

Rapid Reaction: Eagles 28, Jets 10

August, 30, 2012
PHILADELPHIA -- The Jets completed an 0-4 preseason, falling to the Eagles, 21-10, Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field. It was the Jets' first winless preseason since 1993, Bruce Coslet's final year. Heck, even Rich Kotite won in the preseason.

At least the Jets ended their touchdown drought, scoring in the first quarter. It took 37 possessions and 201 minutes, 5 seconds of elapsed time, finally reaching the end zone on their 199th play of the preseason. Baby steps, right?

What it means: Not much. You probably won't remember the Jets' winless record in a couple of weeks. Since 1995, seven teams made the playoffs after a winless preseason, including the 2011 Falcons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The most significant aspect of the preseason? The Jets avoided major injuries to key players.

Mac attack: With Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow watching from the sideline, third-string QB Greg McElroy started and played well. He looked better than Tebow did in any of his preseason appearances, which is sure to generate some chatter from those who believe McElroy should be the No. 2 because he can run a conventional offense.

That conversation is premature -- McElroy has no regular-season experience -- but you know what? McElroy (12-for-17, 90 yards, 1 TD, 0 turnovers) has some nice tools. He demonstrated accuracy, pocket presence and toughness. On the second possession, he led a 14-play, 77-yard drive, culminating with the Jets' first touchdown of the preseason -- a 6-yard pass to RB Terrance Ganaway. McElroy has moxie.

Mr. Smith goes to Philly: So much for taking it slowly. After only one day of practice, former Rams OT Jason Smith started at left tackle and played the entire first half -- and did a decent job. The plan was to play him about 10 snaps, according to Rex Ryan. But with D'Brickashaw Ferguson resting, it was either Smith or Paul Cornick at left tackle -- a no-brainer. It's unusual to see a former first-round pick in the fourth preseason game, but Smith (No. 2 overall pick in 2009) has fallen quite a bit.

He was aggressive in the running game, showing a good hand punch, and you saw some of the movement skills that seduced pro scouts once upon a time. But let's not go crazy here; Smith, acquired in the Wayne Hunter trade, was matched against a rookie most of the time.

Howard's hiccup: RT Austin Howard was the only projected opening-day starter to play in the game. Let's face it, he's inexperienced and needs the work. He got off to a slow start, surrendering a sack to DE Brandon Graham (an Eagles draft bust) on the first series. Know this: Now that they have Smith, the Jets will have a short leash with Howard. If he struggles with Mario Williams in the opener, it wouldn't be a shock to see Smith at right tackle in Week 2.

Sack man: People have questioned Quinton Coples' attitude and practice habits, but he continues to put up numbers. The Jets' No. 1 pick, who started and played into the third quarter, recorded 1.5 sacks. His full sack was a cheap one (he touched the quarterback out of bounds on a scramble), but he also made a tackle-for-loss and deflected a pass. Scouts say he takes plays off, but he has a knack for making plays. He finished the preseason with 4.5 sacks.

Odds and Ends: FB John Conner, on the bubble, entered in the third quarter and was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 run -- his third unsuccessful short-yardage run in the preseason ... Third-round LB Demario Davis looked lost at times, missing a couple of tackles. He has a ways to go ... Newly acquired P Spencer Lanning got the first three punts, putting one inside the 20 and another for 50 yards. Did he do enough to unseat T.J. Conley? Don't think so ... Nick Folk made a 58-yard field goal.

What's ahead: The Jets must cut 22 plays by 9 p.m. Friday to get down to 53. Expect some roster movement after the final cuts, with GM Mike Tannenbaum engaging in what he calls a "mini-draft." After that, they will begin preparations for the season opener.

Observation deck: Dolphins-Cowboys

August, 30, 2012
The Miami Dolphins wrapped up their 2012 preseason with a 30-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Miami finished winless in the preseason for the first time since 1989.

Here are several notes and observations:

What I liked: Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill was efficient in limited playing time. He made safe throws and finished 5-of-7 for 35 yards. Miami led 3-0 when Tannehill exited the game. He looks fairly ready for the regular season. Backup running back Daniel Thomas also ran well. The second-year tailback, who is in Dolphins coach Joe Philbin’s doghouse for tardiness, gained 31 yards on five carries. It appears Miami’s running game should be the best part of its offense.

What I didn’t like: The Dolphins have few playmakers and little depth. The backups were throttled by Dallas’ reserves, which is a trend we saw throughout the AFC East division this preseason. Dolphins No. 2 quarterback Matt Moore finished his miserable preseason, completing just 4 of 12 passes and another interception. This time Moore’s turnover was a pick-six. The receiver position is still an issue. No one has really stepped up to claim the top spots heading into the regular season.

Fields is ready: Miami punter Brandon Fields already is in midseason form. Fields’ punts were booming Friday. He had an average of 50.2 yards on six punts. With a young offense, Fields could be needed a lot this year.

What’s next: The Dolphins will travel in their regular-season opener to face the Houston Texans. It’s a tough game for Miami, which is rebuilding with a rookie quarterback, to hit the road and face a playoff-caliber team in its home opener.