New York Jets: AFC East
Jarrett played every snap, didn't allow a completion and didn't miss any tackles. This is highly subjective, but Pro Football Focus, which evaluates every play, gave Jarrett the third-highest grade ever awarded to a safety.
Let's take a closer look at Jarrett's big plays:
The sack: On a third-and-15, the Jets were aggressive and rushed seven, including Jarrett, who came on a delayed blitz. Jarrett recognized that his man, tight end Heath Miller, stayed in to block, so he took the opportunity to rush Ben Roethlisberger.
The fumble recovery: On the first play of the Steelers' ensuing drive, Muhammad Wilkerson made a great play, stripping Antonio Brown on a bubble screen. Jarrett, providing over-the-top help on Brown, happened to be in the first place at the right time.
The first interception: On a second down from their 10, the Jets dropped eight into coverage, showing a two-deep safety look. Roethlisberger threw quickly to Martavis Bryant, but the pass was deflected by Marcus Williams, who made a nice reach-in. Jarrett reacted quickly, made a diving catch, jumped to his feet and returned it nine yards.
The second interception: Roethlisberger will get the blame for a terrible pass (and it was), but a look at the all-22 tape reveals that Jarrett showed terrrific instincts on the play. The Jets showed a Cover-2 look (more on that a little later), with Jarrett providing deep help for cornerback Phillip Adams. Jarrett, responsible for a deep half, was at the numbers on the left side of the defense. He read Roethlisberger's eyes and worked his way back to the middle, where Big Ben threw the ball to Markus Wheaton -- or shall we say "floated" the ball? Jarrett was there for the interception, but this wasn't another case of right-place, right-time. He got there because of his field awareness.
2. Rex reinvents his defense: This hasn't garnered much press (who can report on schemes when planes are circling the practice field?), but it's interesting to see how Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman have revamped the defensive scheme because of their shortcomings at cornerback. Before this season, the Jets were predominantly a single-high safety defense, relying on press-man coverage. Not anymore. They're playing more zone than ever, according to Ryan, also employing a heavy dose of two-high safety alignments. Previously, Ryan considered it an act of heresy, but he adapted to help his corners and to prevent big plays.
They used Jarrett and Dawan Landry in a two-deep look for a good portion of the game, limiting the Steelers' prolific passing attack to only one completion over 16 yards. That was Bryant's 80-yard touchdown late in the game, which, perhaps not coincidentally, came on a play in which the Jets had no safety in the deep post.
3. Odds and ends: The Jets allowed four sacks, but that's not reflective of the offensive line. Its pass protection was superb, as it allowed only three pressures, per Pro Football Focus. Vick contributed to the sacks by holding the ball and scrambling around. ... The offense went into a shell after a promising start. It produced 139 total yards on the first two drives, but only 136 after that. ... Vick's 67-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Graham traveled 56 air yards, from release to catch. It was a good call by coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who fooled the Steelers with a run look -- three tight ends and a play-fake to Chris Ivory. ... Adams allowed 174 of the Steelers' 343 passing yards, per PFF. ... Jeff Cumberland's receiving numbers have dropped, but he continued his solid play as a pass protector. ... Calvin Pace, Quinton Coples and Jason Babin combined for only one quarterback pressure in 54 snaps. ... On Jace Amaro's 5-yard touchdown catch, the Steelers dropped eight into coverage, including seven defenders in the end zone -- and managed to lose sight of Amaro.
The Kansas City Chiefs have an anemic passing offense. Quarterback Alex Smith has a sprained throwing shoulder. On Sunday, their medicine will arrive:
The Jets' secondary.
The Jets allowed 84- and 61-yard pass plays in Sunday's 43-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills, bringing their season total to nine pass plays of 40-plus yards. Only the Houston Texans (10) and Atlanta Falcons (10) have allowed more.
This is so uncharacteristic of a Rex Ryan-coached defense. Once upon a time, a big play against the Jets was a rare feat. In 2009, when they owned the best defense in the NFL, the Jets surrendered only three such plays for the entire season. Alas, injuries and poor personnel decisions have forced Ryan to scramble at cornerback. He's also playing more zone coverage than ever before, resulting in miscommunication.
Sunday should be an interesting matchup because the Chiefs have no quick-strike ability -- no pass plays of 40-plus yards. In last week's win, Smith became the first quarterback since 2012 to win a game without attempting multiple passes of 10 yards downfield, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Let's take it a step further: The Chiefs are the only team without a receiving touchdown from a wide receiver.
That's about to change.
The Jets are into the "Missiles of October" portion of their schedule, as they face Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in an 11-day span. Unfortunately for the Jets, they're hitting this stretch with a defense that doesn't scare quarterbacks.
Oh sure, the Jets' defensive front will gets its share of sacks, but when it comes to making game-changing plays -- forcing turnovers -- its useless. Rex Ryan's defense has produced zero interceptions in four games. The only other team with an oh-fer is the New Orleans Saints, whose defense is headed by Ryan's twin brother, Rob. Talk about keeping it all in the family.
It's pretty amazing when you think about it: Opposing quarterbacks have dropped back to pass a total of 150 times against the Jets, and not one of those throws has ended up in the wrong hands. On Sunday, they travel to the San Diego Chargers and will face the hottest quarterback in the league. Rivers has a league-best 114.5 passer rating and has completed 70 percent of his attempts.
How does Ryan fix the takeaway issue? It's tough because they're undermanned at cornerback. The anticipated return of former first-round pick Dee Milliner should help -- maybe. Ryan is a man-to-man coach, but maybe he can change it up by playing more zone. Maybe he can play more two-high-safety looks instead of the usual one. He has to do something, because the Jets' bad start could turn ugly over the next 11 days.
The New York Jets wide receiver, nursing a hamstring injury, sat out positional drills for the second consecutive day. He participated in the team stretch and worked in the rehab area during the 30-minute window open to the media, but there was no indication that he'd be able to participate in team drills.
Decker's status for Monday night's game against the Chicago Bears remains up in the air. On Wednesday, Rex Ryan expressed cautious optimism that Decker would be able to play. The team still has practices on Friday and Saturday.
In other injury news, cornerback Dee Milliner (ankle), who sat out Wednesday, returned to positional drills. Milliner, who played 40 snaps last week against the Green Bay Packers, is expected to play.
Special teams ace Nick Bellore, battling a calf injury since the end of the preseason, sat out positional drills.
A full practice report will be released later in the day.
"We owe them one," defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson told the Jets' website. "We owe them one big time." He also said, "That was pretty much the only team that dog-walked this defense like that."
Whoa, big fella, it's only the preseason. If the Jets win, they won't be flaunting the revenge card. If anyone does, they will look silly. It's only the second preseason game, a time for evaluating players and building chemistry. Few will remember the result by the end of the summer.
Rex Ryan downplayed the redemption angle, but he admitted he'd like to play well. Call it pride.
"You know, did we get our tails kicked last time we were up there? We absolutely did," he said. "I think the competitor in you -- from a coach, from a player -- you don’t like that. The fact that we have a lot of guys, however many guys are playing, it’s a little different feel. Obviously, preseason guys are trying to win jobs. It’s not just about the team or whatever. I mean, I don’t know if it is more motivation, but you certainly want to account for yourself better than we did the last time."
There's an interesting back story to Jets-Bengals: Ryan confirmed there were serious discussions before training camp about holding joint practices in Cincinnati during the run-up to the game. Joint practices are becoming popular around the league. The concern, of course, is that practicing for a few days against another team will lead to fights.
Ryan doesn't think it would've been an issue, saying the mutual respect between him and Bengals coach Marvin Lewis would've set an upbeat tone on the practice field. Then again, if the Jets have a chip on their shoulder because of last season's blowout, as Richardson's quote suggests, the temperature would've been higher than usual. From what I hear, some of the Jets' veteran leaders lobbied Ryan to pass on the invitation, citing that very reason.
Ryan didn't rule out a joint practice in the future.
"As long as it’s not just Fight Night," he said. "I remember my dad went down in some epic Eagles versus Falcons [practices]. In between all of the fights, they snapped the ball a few times. Those are things you don’t want. "
Lewis was a member of the CFL's Toronto Argonauts. Before that, he spent time with eight different NFL teams, including the Jets. In 2012, he had three brief stints with them, including one week on the practice squad. He has played in eight games since coming out of Arizona State as an undrafted free agent in 2011.
To make room for Lewis, the Jets waived linebacker Tim Fugger, who had been sidelined with a hyperextended knee.
Vick got a taste of it with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009, replacing Donovan McNabb, and he didn't mince words when asked how it worked. “It didn’t last long,” he said Sunday, not sounding particular enthused about the prospect of doing it again.
Vick believes that using a second quarterback requires a delicate balance, as to not disrupt the rhythm of the game.
"Guys get into rhythms, and you want to continue that rhythm,” Vick said after practice. “There’s a time and place for it -- whether it’s third down, whether it’s short yardage, whether it’s the red zone. There’s a time when you can do it and be effective."
Geno Smith sounded more optimistic about using Vick situationally, claiming his rhythm wasn’t disrupted by the use of the Wildcat last season.
"I don’t think so. I never even thought about it to tell you the truth,” Smith said. “I think it helped us. It kept us on schedule many times, and it’s something that we used quite frequently, if I can remember, and I think it was pretty successful.”
Smith said Vick offers a lot as a change-of-pace quarterback.
“That’s the reason why the coaches like these dual-threat quarterbacks and guys who can run and can pass because you give the defense a lot to look at and you can’t just play the run or pass on a certain down and distance,” he said. “You’ve got to play both, and it’s very hard to do that.”
The Jets ran the most Wildcat plays in the NFL last season, using the formation on 38 snaps, per ESPN Stats and Info. However, this could all be a ploy on Ryan’s part, forcing opposing teams to game-plan for the Wildcat.
Milliner went down hard after getting beat deep by rookie Quincy Enunwa. Milliner was in obvious pain, clutching his ankle. Two trainers helped him off the field, and Milliner put no weight on the ankle.
Milliner, who recently boasted that he's the best cornerback in the NFL, is having an excellent camp. Rookie corner Dexter McDougle also left practice with an undisclosed injury. Dimitri Patterson sat out again with calf and ankle injuries, meaning three of the team's top four corners are hurt.
Geno Smith was only mediocre in Saturday night's intrasquad scrimmage, but that won't change anything. He still will get the vast majority of the first-team reps, and he's expected to start the preseason opener Thursday night against the Indianapolis Colts. Rookie Tajh Boyd still is on the outside, looking in.
RUNNING BACKS (5)
Richardson is a new addition. With Powell (hamstring) on the sideline, Richardson has capitalized on an increased workload, demonstrating change-of-pace skills. He's the only change-of-pace back among the top five, enhancing his chances of sticking.
WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
The toughest roster decisions will come from this position. We pared it to six spots, dropping Jacoby Ford -- and essentially handing that spot to running back. Slot receiver Greg Salas, terrific in the scrimmage, is making a strong bid. He has outplayed Saunders and Evans (shoulder), but it's hard to imagine them cutting a fourth-round pick or two. Saunders is getting a chance to return punts and kickoffs.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
Sudfeld has been one of the surprises of camp, but the book on him is that he fades when the games begin. The coaches expect Amaro to emerge from his rookie funk in the coming days. He's struggling with Marty Mornhinweg's offense.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
- D'Brickashaw Ferguson
- Brian Winters
- Nick Mangold
- Willie Colon
- Breno Giacomini
- Oday Aboushi
- Ben Ijalana
- Dalton Freeman
- Dakota Dozier
They have a three-guard rotation, with Colon, Winters and Aboushi. Colon and Winters, the incumbents, are the favorites, but the coaches are intrigued by Aboushi's athleticism. He has the ability to block in space, which can help the perimeter running game.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (5)
These five are no-brainers. Rookie Kerry Hyder, an undrafted free agent from Texas Tech, is trying to crack the small fraternity. Hyder is a "bad-bodied" tweener (Rex Ryan's word), but he's one of the surprises in camp.
- David Harris
- Demario Davis
- Calvin Pace
- Quinton Coples
- Jason Babin
- Nick Bellore
- Garrett McIntyre
- Jeremiah George
- A.J. Edds
We have a change here, adding Edds in favor of Antwan Barnes (knee), who remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list. It wouldn't be a surprise if Barnes, with his surgically repaired knee healing slowly, begins the season on the PUP list. Edds is a smart, versatile player with NFL experience. George, a fifth-round pick, is hanging by a thread. Jermaine Cunningham was pushing for a spot, but it looks like he's lost for the season with an Achilles' tendon tear.
There are concerns across the board. No one is having a lights-out camp, providing fodder for those who criticized the Jets for passing on big-name corners in free agency. McDougle, slowed by a groin injury, has crashed to reality after a promising spring. Ditto, Ras-I Dowling.
The competition is getting tighter, especially with Pryor (concussion) having missed a week, creating reps for others. Jarrett has been one of the stars of camp, according to Ryan. Former practice-squad player Rontez Miles blew up the scrimmage. Josh Bush is lurking, too. Tough decisions ahead.
Memo to Mr. Quigley: Don't take anything for granted.
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has job security. His three counterparts in the AFC East? Not so much.
Rex Ryan landed a contract extension this offseason, but don't let that fool you. He will have reason to be nervous if the New York Jets miss the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. The Buffalo Bills' 6-10 record last season wasn't ominous for Doug Marrone -- that was just his first year on the job. But with an ownership change on the horizon, a failure to improve in 2014 might not bode well for Marrone.
Then there is Joe Philbin of the Miami Dolphins. He survived a bullying scandal that took place in his locker room and on his practice field. A late-season collapse that cost Miami a playoff berth couldn't sink Philbin, not when you consider the adversity the team fought through just to be in contention. But now Philbin enters his third year, when a lot is expected of a regime. He is likely out of second chances.
The four writers who cover the division -- Rich Cimini in New York, Mike Reiss in New England, Mike Rodak in Buffalo and James Walker in Miami -- offered their insights on the AFC East hot seat and other key topics. They also polled their Twitter followers to find out if they saw the issues differently.
Which AFC East coach enters camp on the hottest seat?
Rich Cimini: Doug Marrone's seat is lukewarm and Rex Ryan's is warm. Joe Philbin? Let's just say his tush is feeling extreme heat. Frankly, I'm a bit surprised he survived last season's debacle. Not only did the Dolphins collapse down the stretch to blow a playoff spot, but they became a national punchline because of the bullying scandal. The mess cost general manager Jeff Ireland his job, but Philbin emerged as the Teflon Man. He has now run out of mulligans. Philbin is working for a new GM, Dennis Hickey, and it's hard to imagine him returning in 2015 if the Dolphins miss the playoffs again. Philbin is an offensive-minded coach, but his offense -- quarterback Ryan Tannehill, in particular -- has shown no improvement. ... We would mention Bill Belichick's seat, except it's really not a seat. In this division, it's a throne.
Mike Rodak: This is a close race between Rex Ryan, Doug Marrone and Joe Philbin. Ryan faces the tough scrutiny of the New York market, and if the Jets' combo of quarterbacks Geno Smith and Michael Vick doesn't pan out, Ryan could be gone, despite his contract extension this year. In Buffalo, a pending ownership change naturally puts Marrone's future in doubt. I don't think CEO Russ Brandon or general manager Doug Whaley would fire Marrone even if things don't go well this season, but their voices might not matter if a new owner wants sweeping changes. In Miami, new GM Hickey has given Philbin his vote of approval, but how long will that last? If I had to pick one situation where the head coach's job is most in question, it's Philbin with the Dolphins.
James Walker: Miami's Joe Philbin has the hottest seat in the AFC East. After going a combined 15-17 his first two seasons, this year is really playoffs or bust for Philbin. He was fortunate to survive last year's late-season collapse and major locker-room issues with the bullying scandal that embarrassed the franchise. General manager Jeff Ireland and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and others lost their jobs, but Miami owner Stephen Ross offered Philbin one more opportunity to prove he's the right coach for the team. The key for Philbin will be winning within the division. He is 4-8 against AFC East teams, and that won't cut it this season.
Which of your team's positional battles intrigues you the most?
Cimini: No question, it's the quarterback situation even though Geno Smith versus Michael Vick isn't a true open competition. No matter, it's still a compelling story, one that will create many headlines in training camp. It's Smith's job to lose, but I'm curious to gauge his development now that he has had a full season and a full offseason to immerse himself in the offense. More than anything, he should be better at seeing the field and reading defenses. How will he handle the pressure of knowing there is a capable replacement if he falters? Let's be honest, he never had to deal with that as a rookie. If Smith is outplayed by Vick, it will put the coaches in a delicate position. Clearly, they want Smith to be the starter, but they also have to consider the possible message it sends. If the best guy isn't playing, it's bad form. One position, so many fascinating subplots.
Reiss: Receiver looks like the Patriots' most compelling position battle. They are counting on big-time improvement from second-year players Aaron Dobson (second round), Josh Boyce (fourth round) and Kenbrell Thompkins (undrafted), while big 2013 free-agent signing Danny Amendola will be looking to prove he can stay healthy and recapture the magic we saw in the 2013 season opener. Veterans Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell are also expected to play significant roles, and can slippery-quick seventh-round pick Jeremy Gallon be a sleeper? Lots of questions to answer.
Rodak: The starting spot that seems most up for grabs in Buffalo this offseason is at safety. Who will start opposite Aaron Williams? The Bills lost Jairus Byrd and didn't address the loss in free agency or the draft, instead putting their faith in two of their draft selections from last season -- Duke Williams (fourth round) and Jonathan Meeks (fifth round) -- as well as a more experienced veteran, Da'Norris Searcy. With Aaron Williams recovering from shoulder surgery for most of organized team activities, we didn't get a great feel for which player had the best shot to win Byrd's old job. In the few times that Williams was on the field, it was Searcy lining up with the first team, but Duke Williams and Meeks also got reps with the first unit throughout OTAs. It's a battle that will continue into training camp.
Walker: The Dolphins have a few good position battles, but I am most intrigued by the competition to be the slot receiver because of the immense depth at the position. The Dolphins have Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews and rookie second-round pick Jarvis Landry all competing for one spot. In addition, these receivers have different styles. Gibson is more detailed and cerebral. He gets open with his route-running. Matthews is the biggest and most physical receiver of the bunch. Landry is sort of a combination of the two, but he lacks blazing speed. I think all three are capable of handling the position. It's just a matter of who performs the best and which style the coaching staff prefers.
@mikerodak running backs look to be more interesting than I expected, and even though there isn't competition QB growth is #1- Bob rieth (@Bob_rieth) June 16, 2014
Which veteran on your team is poised for a breakout season?
Cimini: For several reasons, it should be Quinton Coples. After two nondescript seasons, it's time to turn potential into production -- and he knows it. The talent is there. With Coples, whose work ethic was questioned when he came out of North Carolina, it is a matter of want-to. Does he want to be great? The former first-round pick was slowed last season by a position change ("rush" linebacker) and a fractured ankle in the preseason, which cost him three games. Now he should be comfortable at the position and he dropped weight in the offseason, which should help his quickness on the edge as a pass-rusher. Coples has the ability to turn a middling pass rush into a very good one.
Reiss: With the Patriots bolstering their secondary with Darrelle Revis, a player like third-year defensive end Chandler Jones could be a primary beneficiary of better coverage. He had six sacks as a rookie and followed that up with 11.5 last season. Could he hit 15 this season? As long as he stays healthy, it wouldn't surprise me.
Rodak: There was no shortage of breakout performers for the Bills last season, especially on defense. Defensive end Jerry Hughes, cornerback Leodis McKelvin, safety Aaron Williams and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus all enjoyed the best seasons. This season, I see two strong candidates for breakout performances: wide receiver Robert Woods and cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Woods had a strong start to last season -- he was a candidate for NFL rookie of the month in September -- but a revolving door at quarterback and a late-season ankle injury hampered his progress. If quarterback EJ Manuel bounces back from his up-and-down rookie season, Woods could stand to benefit. I would give him the edge to break out over Gilmore, a former first-round pick who was limited by a wrist injury most of last season but is among the better cornerbacks in the division when healthy.
Walker: Last season the Dolphins saw significant returns from a second-year defensive end, Olivier Vernon. He led the Dolphins with 11.5 sacks and really came on strong in 2013. So I'm going to stick with the same position and the same experience level and go with current second-year defensive end Dion Jordan. The Dolphins got little return for their No. 3 overall pick last year -- he had just 26 tackles and two sacks. But I like what I saw from Jordan during organized team activities and minicamp. Jordan hit the weight room hard this offseason and bulked up about 17 pounds. He's much stronger, which is key because Miami's coaching staff was concerned about Jordan's ability to stuff the run. Jordan should put up better numbers and be an all-around better player. His biggest issue is getting playing time behind Vernon and Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake.
@JamesWalkerNFL Dion Jordan. Can't hold him back anymore. He will get 10 sacks and will be on the field 40 plays per game- Tom Ernisse (@ternisse13) June 4, 2014
How many years do you think Tom Brady has left?
Cimini: No doubt, Jets fans will celebrate the day Brady decides to call it quits. Statistically, he's in a two-year decline, but he played with such a patchwork receiving corps last season that it's hard to say he is going south. Brady, who turns 37 in August, should have at least two more Brady-like seasons. I'm basing that on recent history. After all, John Elway won his second Super Bowl at 38 -- and promptly retired. It's rare in the modern era for a quarterback to play well beyond 38. Brett Favre had a great year at 40, and Warren Moon enjoyed a good year at 38, but the examples are few and far between. The Patriots drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round for a reason. Brady is signed through 2017, but I'd be mildly surprised if he's still around at the age of 40.
Reiss: I'm not going to be the one who bets against Tom Brady. I still see him playing at a high level through the completion of his current contract in 2017, and based on the way he takes care of his body, the dedication to his craft, and the desire to play as long as possible, I could see him going the Warren Moon route and playing into his 40s. It's all contingent on good health, but will Tom Brady still be slinging passes and winning games in the year 2020? Yup.
Rodak: I would peg Brady's window at 3-4 years. In the past, he has spoken about his fear of the "abyss" that will follow his playing career. Yet we've also seen him in the public eye as a father in recent years and I think he would embrace that role in retirement. The bigger question is whether Bill Belichick would ever "move on" from Brady or simply allow him to play -- and start -- as long as he'd like. Belichick is markedly unemotional when he makes personnel decisions, so I don't think he would necessarily let Brady dictate when his career ends. Even if Belichick's final season coincides with Brady's, I think Belichick would want to leave the organization in a good spot. That could mean handing over the reins to a younger starter if the situation calls for it.
Walker: I covered Brady for two seasons as ESPN.com's AFC East reporter. To me, he has always come off as a player who wished he could play football forever. You would be surprised how many NFL players are not that way. Brady isn't motivated by money or fame. I think there is a genuine love for the game and thirst for competition that will be hard for Brady to let go. That is why I expect Brady to hold on for as long as he can. I expect two or three more quality seasons, but I wouldn't be surprised if Brady tries to go longer. I think Brady is too competitive to walk away on his own. Father Time might have to pull him away from the NFL.
@MikeReiss Two. (hoping he goes out with a ring (a la John Elway)- Because i think he has less than 3 - I'm watching the back up QB battle.- Elizabeth (@capesquad) June 18, 2014
Who's In: No one. No players were selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time in the Rex Ryan era.
1. It's a personnel problem, not a coaching problem: This underscores what we've known all season: The Jets don't have enough talent, and yet Ryan could pay the price with his job. This was a resounding message from the rest of the league. What made this is a real kick in the stomach was that Darrelle Revis -- remember him? -- was selected to the Pro Bowl as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
2. Mo wuz robbed: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (career-high 10.5 sacks) was the Jets' best candidate and deserved to make it. Six defensive ends were selected: Greg Hardy (Carolina Panthers), Cameron Jordan (New Orleans Saints), Robert Quinn (St. Louis Rams), Cameron Wake (Miami Dolphins), J.J. Watt (Houston Texans) and Mario Williams (Buffalo Bills). Wake and Williams? Wake (8.5 sacks) is having an off year; Williams has 13 sacks, but he's an accumulator, not a truly dominant player. Wilkerson probably was hurt by a late-season dip in his sack production. He was named a first alternate, small consolation.
3. Other alternates: Center Nick Mangold was named a first alternate, and cornerback Antonio Cromartie a second alternate. How Cromartie made alternate status is beyond comprehension. If he gets to play in the game, he should have to pay for his own flight. Kicker Nick Folk got no recognition whatsoever, which is too bad. He's having a career season, but his timing stinks because this has been a great year for kickers. Justin Tucker (Baltimore Ravens) and Nick Prater (Denver Broncos) were deservedly named to the two kicking spots.
4. A look at the AFC East: The New England Patriots and Dolphins placed four players apiece in the Pro Bowl. The Bills had three.
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What it means: The Jets finished the preseason at 3-1. Big deal. No one will remember their record in 24 hours. The focus shifts immediately to opening day and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There are a myriad questions for the Jets, starting with the quarterback position: Smith or Sanchez? Sanchez (shoulder) remains day-to-day and should know more about his status when he meets with the medical staff over the weekend.
No Geno: That the Jets didn't play Smith suggests they believe there's a good chance he will be the opening-day starter. The rookie could've used the work -- his preseason consisted of 3½ quarters -- but it would've been too risky to expose him to potential injury. Coach Rex Ryan bubble-wrapped almost his entire starting lineup. The only projected starters/key reserves that saw action were Vladimir Ducasse (started at right guard), cornerback Kyle Wilson and safety Antonio Allen. Why play Wilson, a virtual starter? It was very curious and, no doubt, will fuel speculation about his future. Were the Jets showcasing him for a trade? Wilson has been a first-round disappointment, but he has value because of his versatility.
Tough dude, Simms: Battling for the No. 3 QB job, Simms was absolutely terrific. Undaunted by a seven-sack first half, Son of Phil completed 33 of 44 passes for 285 yards and no turnovers, although there were a couple of near-interceptions. He went 25-for-27 in one stretch, shades of his dad in Super Bowl XXI. He showed toughness, poise and accuracy. How can he not make the team? Greg McElroy (knee), who didn't play, should be worried about his roster spot. Newly signed Graham Harrell didn't play, but could factor into the equation.
Porous pass protection: The Jets had better hope their starting offensive linemen stay healthy, because the backups are shaky -- and that's being kind. They could be in the market for a backup swing tackle because veteran Jason Smith, who re-signed last week, played quite possibly one of the worst games ever by a lineman. Facing the Eagles' backups, Smith -- the No. 2 overall pick in 2009 -- allowed at least three sacks. He was pulled at halftime, the best thing to happen to Simms all night.
Defensive stand: The Jets' No. 2 defense dominated Chip Kelly's No. 2 offense. LB Ricky Sapp, LB Danny Lansanah, DE Leger Douzable, LB Nick Bellore and S Jaiquawn Jarrett were among the standouts.
Kicking competition: It was a draw between incumbent Nick Folk and challenger Dan Carpenter. Folk was good from 28 yards, Carpenter from 43. Each recorded a touchback on his only kickoff.
What's ahead: Now comes the bloody part of the business. Teams must pare their rosters to 53 by 6 p.m. ET Saturday, meaning the Jets have to slice 22 players over the next 48 hours.
Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 1 p.m. ET. You can also submit questions for this chat, or any of our 32 NFL chats, by using the hashtag #NFLNation on Twitter. See you there.
The rebuilding Jets will miss the playoffs for the third straight year, and it will be curtains for Rex Ryan.
New general manager John Idzik gutted the roster, hoping to create salary-cap room for 2014. In the process, he forgot to import enough talent to compete in 2013. The uncertainty at quarterback, coupled with a difficult first-half schedule, will leave them out of contention by Halloween. The second half of the year will be all about trying to determine whether Geno Smith is their future.
Ryan is a defensive master and has enough leftover talent to build a respectable unit, which should keep them in most games. But the offense? It could be hard to watch. Marty Mornhinweg is an experienced playcaller, but he simply doesn't have enough weapons for his West Coast offense. They'll trick it up, using Wildcat and pistol formations -- smoke and mirrors in an attempt to camouflage the lack of talent. The lack of stability at quarterback will doom the team and could divide the locker room. Smith has talent, but he's raw and immature. Mark Sanchez, public enemy No. 1 in New York, has too many scars to succeed. He needs a change of scenery.
No one said rebuilding is easy.
Predicted finish in AFC East: third