New York Jets: Nick Folk
1. Rough start: It wasn't a productive day for the Idziks. They lost right tackle Austin Howard to the Oakland Raiders, watched as the three highest-rated corners came off the board and began to hear the rumblings of a Darrelle Revis-to-the-New England Patriots scenario -- a potential nightmare. But, hey, they re-signed kicker Nick Folk to a long-term deal.
2. Patience: The lack of activity set off a near panic among fans who wanted general manager John Idzik to put in dent in that $39.6 million cap surplus. Relax, people. It was only the first day, when desperate teams throw ridiculous money at players not worthy of superstar paychecks. Championships aren't won in March. Jets fans should know that better than anyone.
3. Howard's end: The Jets liked Howard, they really did, but they liked him only to a certain point. Idzik didn't want to match the five-year, $30 million offer from the Raiders, and that was that. His fallback option appears to be former Seattle Seahawks right tackle Breno Giacomini, who was good enough to start for the Super Bowl champions.
4. They like Mike: It has been rumored for weeks, but now it can be confirmed: Yes, the Jets have interest in quarterback Michael Vick (Philadelphia Eagles), according to a league source. They also scheduled a visit with Josh McCown (Chicago Bears), who also has visits set up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (the favorite) and the Houston Texans. Vick reportedly is drawing interest from the Buffalo Bills and Raiders. The Jets would like to get it wrapped up quickly, but it sounds like Vick will take his time. Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez is twisting in the wind, waiting to learn his fate.
5. Dangerous corner: It's too soon to say the Jets are desperate at cornerback, but I bet Rex Ryan is feeling a bit uneasy about his current situation. The Jets expressed a strong interest in Vontae Davis, but he re-signed with the Indianapolis Colts for four years, $39 million. Alterraun Verner was on the Jets' radar, but he signed with the Buccaneers for four years, $25.5 million. The Denver Broncos took Aqib Talib away from the New England Patriots with a crazy contract -- six years, $57 million. The cornerback market isn't barren yet, but the Jets might want to get busy. Keep an eye on Captain Munnerlyn (Carolina Panthers) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Denver Broncos). And, of course, Antonio Cromartie is out there. Remember him?
6. 'Folk Hero' gets paid: Folk wore the franchise tag for only two weeks. On Tuesday, he signed a four-year, $12 million contract. The deal reportedly includes only $2.1 million in guarantees, about $1.4 million less than what he would've received if he had signed the $3.55 million franchise tender. Folk wanted a long-term deal for security, but in reality, it won't be hard to cut him if he has a bad year. Good deal for the Jets.
7. Quiet at receiver: Not much action for the free-agent wide receivers. Here's a name to watch: Miles Austin, who was released by the Dallas Cowboys. The receiver-needy Jets are expected to have interest. They're also showing interest in running back Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars) at "the right price," a source said. They're eyeing other backs as well.
» AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South
Key free agents: RT Austin Howard, PK Nick Folk (franchise player), TE Jeff Cumberland, LB Calvin Pace, RG Willie Colon, S Ed Reed.
Where they stand: The Jets are trying to re-sign Howard before he hits the open market. He's not a household name, but he's a massive blocker with surprising athleticism. Howard has two years of starting experience and he's only getting better. They've expressed an interest in re-signing Cumberland and Pace, although it's unclear if deals will get done by Tuesday. Pace produced a career-high 10 sacks last season, playing for the minimum salary, but he's 33 -- and the Jets won't throw significant money at a player that old. The Jets are rebuilding at tight end, so Cumberland's role is undefined, which could affect negotiations. Colon and Reed are fallback options. In Reed's case, way, way back. Colon is recovering from biceps surgery and won't be healthy until the spring.
What to expect: With an anticipated $30 million in cap space, the Jets could be aggressive buyers if they so choose. They need a wide receiver (or two), a tight end and a veteran quarterback to push Geno Smith. There aren't any true No. 1 receivers on the market, so they'd better be careful not to overpay for the second-rate talent. Emmanuel Sanders and Golden Tate could be on the radar. They're likely to have interest in QBs Josh McCown and Michael Vick, who'd be ideal because he already knows Marty Mornhinweg's system from their days together in Philadelphia. If they strike out with free agents, the Jets could retain former starter Mark Sanchez, contingent on his health and a massive pay cut. The Jets could have 12 draft choices (counting possible compensatory picks), so they don't have to overpay to fix every need in free agency.
2. Little-known rule: Technically, the Jets couldn't stop Folk from hitting the open market unless they exercised the tag. Here's why: Because they used the minimum-salary benefit last year with Folk, the Jets were allowed to offer only another minimum-salary deal before March 11, the start of free agency. Obviously, that would've been insulting, considering Folk's performance. The two sides could've circumvented the rule, agreeing to a long-term deal and signing it after free agency started, but they apparently didn't get close. The Jets didn't want to take a chance on losing him to another team, so, in essence, they shut down the loophole by tagging him.
3. Folk not pleased: Folk should be thrilled, right? After all, if he plays for the tag amount (the deadline for a long-term deal is July 15), he'll make more in 2014 than he did in his five previous seasons combined ($3.2 million). Ah, but there's another side to it: The premier kickers have at least $4 million in guarantees. The Chicago Bears' Robbie Gould, who signed a new deal at the end of the season, has a $4.9 million guarantee. That's where Folk gets shortchanged. It's safe to assume that Folk, who said after the season he deserved a long-term contract, isn't happy.
4. Austin's power: With Folk tagged, there's an increased sense of urgency to get right tackle Austin Howard locked up by March 11. They probably wouldn't have used it on Howard anyway (the projected amount for an offensive lineman is a steep $11 million), but now they can't use it as leverage in negotiations.
The drive started with an incomplete pass, but the next play proved to be critical as Kellen Winslow grabbed a 25-yard strike to put the Jets at their own 45-yard line with 15 seconds left. Smith quickly spiked the ball.
The next play was the turning point of the game, and a controversial one. With no play developing, quarterback Geno Smith ran for 10 yards and toward the right sideline. As Smith stepped out of bounds, Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David shoved him. David was called for a personal foul. That play resulted in a 25-yard gain and the Jets were in field goal position with seven seconds left. David said after the game he was surprised he'd been flagged.
The rest is history. Nick Folk booted a 48-yarder to put the Jets ahead 18-17 with two seconds left, and they survived the ensuing kickoff.
The impact: Rookie QB Smith won his career debut, and even more impressive, has a comeback win to his name. The Jets were consistently labeled as one of the NFL's worst teams all preseason, but at least for one game they could revel in a nice victory.
Ten takeaways from the Jets' costly win over the Giants:
1. Geno Smith isn't ready: He made a lot of rookie mistakes in his first extended action, but guess what? He's a rookie. Smith saw a lot of things for the first time -- a six-man rush on his second interception and a defensive lineman in coverage on the third pick. The safety was inexcusable, just a mental lapse by a young player lost in the moment. Two things I noticed: He stared down receivers and held the ball too long. On the positive side, he completed his last six passes (five against the Giants' backups), showing the ability to drive the ball on intermediate routes.
2. Rex Ryan didn't trust his instincts: Yes, Ryan announced Thursday that Mark Sanchez would play in the game, but he should've altered the plan on the fly once he saw how the game unfolded. Because of Smith's struggles, it was clear that Sanchez would be the opening-day starter. Ryan shouldn't have played him unless it was behind the first-team line, not behind the likes of Caleb Schlauderaff and J.B. Shugarts. You have to wonder if Ryan was following orders from GM John Idzik.
3. Stephen Hill needs to grow up: He has a lot of talent inside that big body, but he tends to lose his cool. He took a swing at LB Jacquian Williams, resulting in a personal foul, and he lost a fumble a couple of plays later, failing to secure the ball. That he was in the game was another mistake by Ryan, who should've taught him a lesson by benching him after the dumb penalty.
4. They need Santonio Holmes more than ever: Aside from Hill's shenanigans, the Jets dropped three passes, shades of the daily drop-fests in minicamp. The best receiver was rookie free agent Ryan Spadola, who caught three passes for 110 yards. On the positive side, newly signed Mohamed Massaquoi got into the game and made two nice catches. If I'm Braylon Edwards, I'm worried about my roster spot. By the way, Holmes looked fine in pre-game warmups. You have to think he'll be ready for Week 1.
5. Perimeter run defense is still a concern: This was an issue last season, and it didn't look any better in this game -- see David Wilson's 84-yard TD run. Interestingly, the defense came out in a 4-3 look, with three linebackers stacked behind the line. It resembled the old Tampa-2 defense. The Jets seemed a bit confused by the Giants' twin-fullback look. LB Demario Davis got caught in traffic, S Antonio Allen blew his gap assignment, and CB Antonio Cromartie and LB Garrett McIntyre couldn't get off their blocks. In a heartbeat, Wilson was gone, too fast for anyone on the Jets' D.
6. The defense got mad: To its credit, the defense responded nicely after the Wilson TD. Despite bad field position, courtesy of Smith's three interceptions, the Jets held the Giants to three points on the next eight possessions, including a goal-line stand. They dominated the Giants' patchwork line, with DT Sheldon Richardson (one sack, two QB hits) and NT Damon Harrison (seven solo tackles) generating inside pressure. Richardson lined up in several different spots before leaving with an undisclosed injury. They have to be encouraged by their young linemen.
7. They miss Darrelle Revis: Kyle Wilson is entering his fourth year, yet he still makes the same mistakes he did as a rookie. He still lacks awareness when the ball is in the air. In this game, the result was three pass-interference penalties. This is why he was moved back to his nickel-back role as soon as rookie Dee Milliner reported to camp. Milliner didn't play because of an injury, but he hasn't lit it up. The Jets will be vulnerable against opponents with good No. 2 receivers.
8. Brian Winters really exists: The third-round guard, hampered by an ankle injury throughout camp, made his preseason debut. Winters replaced LG Vladimir Ducasse (leg injury) early in the game and ended up making a nice pulling block on Bilal Powell's two-yard TD run in the third quarter. Winters is the future at left guard. For now, it'll be Ducasse or Stephen Peterson, who played center with the second unit and allowed a sack.
9. Nick Folk keeps it interesting: Now we know why they keep importing competition for Folk. In overtime, he was wide right on a 39-yard FG attempt. A few minutes later, challenger Billy Cundiff won it with a 32-yarder. It looks like the kicking battle will last a little longer.
10. Mayday Malone responds: With his job in jeopardy, incumbent P Robert Malone had a fantastic game, putting all three punts inside the 20. Challenger Ryan Quigley, who had been having a solid camp, suffered a poor game. This could be over.
The numbers resemble a zip code: 0, 9, 7, 7, 9. In reality, they represent the Jets' point total in five games last season.
In an era of wide-open passing attacks and high-scoring shootouts, the Jets trotted out a sorry offense that was reminiscent of the Rich Kotite daze. Rex Ryan took some responsibility, claiming he failed to establish an offensive identity, but the problem went beyond that.
The Jets averaged only 4.6 yards per play, next-to-last in the league. Statistically, it was one of the 10 worst offensive performances in the NFL over the last five years.
As usual, it starts with the quarterback. Mark Sanchez is part of the problem, no longer deemed part of the solution. Thing is, it's not a quick-fix situation. Sanchez's burdensome contract, coupled with a weak quarterback class, puts new GM John Idzik in a quandary: Does he commit to a new quarterback of the future by drafting one of the top prospects from the dinged-up Class of '13 or does he wait until next year and ride out the storm with the Sanchez-David Garrard-Greg McElroy troika?
Knowing Idzik, an executive in Seattle last year when the Seahawks found Russell Wilson in the third round, he'll probably wait. One thing could change that: If he feels strongly enough about one of the quarterbacks in the draft and can convince owner Woody Johnson to eat most of Sanchez's $8.25 million guarantee (the likely precursor to any trade), then maybe Idzik can start a new era at the position.
Geno Smith (West Virginia) could be available with the ninth pick, but we're not talking about a sure thing in the Andrew Luck-Robert Griffin III category. You want to be sure when you're picking a quarterback that high. The Jets like Ryan Nassib (Syracuse), but he probably will be picked somewhere between No. 9 and No. 39, their second-round choice.
The Jets should focus on upgrading the skill-position talent. Even though their top three receivers return, they still need a home-run threat for Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast offense. The top receivers are Tavon Austin (West Virginia) and Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee). The Jets' wideouts generated only 575 yards-after-the-catch, fourth-worst among receiving corps, according to ESPN Stats & Information. They need a pass-catching tight end to replace Dustin Keller and they could use a between-the-tackles runner to replace Shonn Greene.
Rome wasn't built in a day and the Jets' depleted offense can't be rebuilt in one draft.
Rex Ryan said Friday the Jets weren't in a rebuilding phase. Check out the list and see if you agree.
WHO IS GONE
TE Dustin Keller: Drafted by the Jets in 2008, Keller signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins worth $4.25 million. Keller was injured for much of last season, but was one of the most familiar targets for quarterback Mark Sanchez.
S LaRon Landry: Landry's Pro Bowl year with the Jets helped him rehabilitate his foot and elevate his profile. Ultimately he became too expensive to keep and signed a four-year, $24 million contract with the Colts with $14M in guaranteed money.
DE Mike DeVito: The New York-born DeVito will play in Kansas City after getting a three-year, $12.6 million deal from the Chiefs. He will be tough to replace as a player and locker room presence.
RB Shonn Greene: Drafted in the same class as Sanchez, Greene heads to the Titans or a three-year, $10 million contract. He'll be paired with Chris Johnson, and Johnson already bristled at the idea.
S Yeremiah Bell: Bell will replace former Jet Kerry Rhodes with the Arizona Cardinals. Bell signed a one-year worth $965,000, which was a number in the Jets' neighborhood but they passed.
K Nick Folk: Signed a one-year deal to return to the Jets.
RB Lex Hilliard: Another one-year deal for Hilliard, who replaced John Conner at fullback last season.
WHO IS IN LIMBO
OL Brandon Moore: The veteran right guard has options, and seems to be weighing them before deciding on his future.
OL Matt Slauson: Slauson, drafted by the Jets in 2009, had for his left-guard job with Vlad Ducasse. The two split time during the season, a move that even offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo said was a decision made above him.
WR Braylon Edwards: The former and current wide receiver has said he wants to be a Jet, although Ryan didn't mention him on Friday's list of receivers he expects to excel in 2013.
LB Bryan Thomas: Thomas, 33, played 11 seasons with the Jets -- and has likely played his last.
WR Chaz Schilens: He has barely been with the Jets a year, and his deal is up. Schilens played well at times, but there seems no hurry to bring him back.
Folk, who has held the job for three seasons, is coming off his best statistical year for field goals. He made 21 of 27 tries (77.8 percent), with three of his six misses coming on blocked attempts. It was that kind of year for the special teams, which suffered numerous breakdowns.
Folk, 28, doesn't have a big leg on kickoffs, but the Jets are willing to live with that. It's possible, though, they will bring competition to training camp. In 2012, he beat out Josh Brown, who recently signed with the Giants.
Folk will have a new coach, Ben Kotwica, who replaces retired special teams coach Mike Westhoff. Folk became only the second unrestricted free agent to re-sign with the Jets. The other was FB Lex Hilliard. They've lost five players in free agency.
MOST LIKELY TO STAY PUT
DE Mike DeVito: He's a blue-collar lineman with scheme versatility, so he should draw considerable interest from other teams. The Jets want to re-sign DeVito, but with Quinton Coples poised for a larger role, it might be a financial squeeze to bring him back as the fourth linemen -- unless they're planning to play more 4-3 fronts. The Chiefs could be interested. Grade: 64. Rank: 15.
PK Nick Folk: The Jets have kept him off the market the last two years with one-year contracts before free agency, but it looks like they're prepared to let him test the waters. They'd better be careful; Folk is an under-rated kicker and could get scooped up. Grade: 66. Rank: 5.
TE Dustin Keller: He's expected to hit the open market, as the Jets have shown little interest in re-signing him. They will let the market dictate his value. He'd be an ideal fit in Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast offense. This offense should be collecting playmakers, not sending them away. Grade: 77. Rank: 4.
G Matt Slauson: He won't command big bucks on the open market, so there's always a chance he could return. The Jets made Slauson take a pay cut last season and rotated him with Vladimir Ducasse, but he's better than Ducasse. Maybe new GM John Idzik will recognize that. Slauson may draw interest from the Cowboys and Raiders. Grade: 69. Rank: 6
WR Braylon Edwards: He's a journeyman player at this point in his career. The Jets need size and depth in the receiving corps, but there's no sense of urgency with Edwards, who could be a post-draft option. Grade: 66. Rank: 17.
S Yeremiah Bell: They have no experienced safeties under contract, so there's an obvious need. Bell was a nice hold-the-fort player last season, but he's 35. He could be another post-draft option. Grade: 69. Rank: 16.
GOING, GOING ...
S LaRon Landry: He bet on himself last year, signing only a one-year contract -- and he won. Landry stayed healthy, made his first Pro Bowl and figures to cash in. The Jets would like to re-sign him, but they won't pay $6 million a year. Chances are, it'll be one-and-done. Grade: 78. Rank: 4.
RB Shonn Greene: He's a between-the-tackles thumper, and the Jets need a No. 1 back with breakaway speed and pass-catching skills to excel in Mornhinweg's offense. Greene could draw interest from the Broncos and Falcons. There's little chance of him returning. Grade: 76. Rank: 4.
G Brandon Moore: Their longest-tenured player on offense probably will move on, and that's too bad because Moore has been one of the Jets' most consistent and durable players. He'll be 33 before the season, so age is an issue. He could draw interest from the Bills, Cowboys and Raiders. Grade: 81. Rank: 1.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
LB Bryan Thomas: Their longest-tenured player is a true warrior, but injuries and age (34 in June) are concerns. It's time to say goodbye. Grade: 64. Rank: 13.
WR Chaz Schilens: Well, he was always good for a sarcastic quote. Grade: 58. Rank: 35.
FB Lex Hilliard: He was a midseason fill-in who played like a midseason fill-in. Adios. Grade: 56. Rank: 37.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
RT Austin Howard: The Jets really like his upside. They're deciding whether to make him a first-round tender ($2.86 million) or a second-round tender ($2.02 million). Grade: 68. Rank: 17.
TE Jeff Cumberland: If he receives the second-round tender, it means Keller is a goner. The Jets could take the cheap route and assign the low tender ($1.32 million), which would give the team the right of first refusal but no draft-pick compensation. Grade: 61. Rank: 22.
LB Josh Mauga: He missed most of last season with a torn biceps. He won't be tendered a contract. Grade: 20. Rank: 86.
LS Tanner Purdum: A very good long snapper, but there's little chance of him getting even the low tender ($1.3 million). Grade: 59. Rank: 8.
“He’s been phenomenal,” Rex Ryan said. “There are a lot of areas that we can improve in. Kicking is not one of them.”
Folk also got praise from special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff.
“I thought last week was Herculean. That 54-yard field goal was into the wind.”
But the fact is, Folk had to fight for his job this year in a close kicking contest during training camp against Josh Brown. So when he heard Ryan was lauding his performance, he understated how well he has played.
“It’s nice to hear but I still have things I can improve,” Folk said.
Folk said his kickoffs could get more accurate. It’s a part of the game that isn’t always as noticeable as field goals and extra points, but important for field position.
Details like that might have been the reason Westhoff wasn’t happy with Folk at the end of last season, and brought in Brown.
“I know that he can do it, but there were some things we were disappointed with so we wanted to challenge him,” Westhoff said. “Where if Nick would be the Nick that we would expect, that’s the Nick we want.”
Brown and Folk were neck and neck in practices, and Westhoff was completely prepared to go with Brown. Despite Folk’s history with the Jets, he would have been cut if he hadn’t performed.
“I firmly believe that how he handled it,” Westhoff said, “and how he went out from Day 1 and said ‘I’ve got to bring my A game because this guy’s pretty good,’ and he did.”
Folk ended up winning the spot, and he’s been perfect for the Jets ever since.
“(This is) not (a) warm and fuzzy business,” Westhoff said. “This is a tough business.”
Sparano noted that the Dolphins burned a timeout when they saw Tebow and QB Mark Sanchez on the field at the same time, with Tebow lined up behind center in shotgun and Sanchez flanked to his side.
"I think timeouts are golden," Sparano said.
Sparano said he was amazed at the amount of on-the-field communication that occurs when Tebow steps onto the turf. He heard defensive players yelling, "Tebow's in! Tebow's in!"
Tebow was in for a season-high 12 plays, but he ran only once for 5 yards (on a fake punt), was sacked for a loss of 5 yards and targeted once as a receiver (incomplete).
Some other items of note from Sparano:
• He absolved Sanchez of blame on his end-zone interception, a high fade pass intended for WR Stephen Hill. Sparano said Sanchez threw "the right ball to the right person." He didn't name names, but TE Jeff Cumberland hurt the play by running into the area of the pass, allowing his man -- S Chris Clemons -- to peel off him and make the interception.
• Sparano said he watched only the last 22 plays of the game with the players, saying the offense played its "absolute best" in crunch time.
• He said it was "pretty special" to receive a game ball from Rex Ryan. Sparano coached the Dolphins from 2008 to 2011, so it was a satisfying win.
NO SWEAT: Special-teams coach Mike Westhoff said he wasn't concerned that Nick Folk's first potential game winner in Miami was blocked. The FG attempt didn't count, of course, because Dolphins coach Joe Philbin called timeout. Westhoff said the get-off time was "way slower" because the players had heard the whistle.
RING OF HONOR: Mark Gastineau and Wesley Walker were named to the Jets' Ring of Honor. They will be inducted at halftime Oct. 8 against the Texans, a Monday night game. Gastineau recorded a franchise-record 107.5 sacks from 1979 to 1989. Walker played from 1977 to 1989, recording 438 receptions, 8,306 yards and an average of 19 yards per catch with 71 touchdowns.
Other members of the Ring are Weeb Ewbank, Winston Hill, Joe Klecko, Curtis Martin, Don Maynard, Joe Namath, Larry Grantham, Freeman McNeil, Gerry Philbin and Al Toon.
ODDS AND ENDS: S Eric Smith said he wasn't fined by the league for his unnecessary-roughness penalty, a hit on WR Davone Bess ... Interesting note from Smith: He said he talked to Dolphins P Brandon Fields after the game, and Fields, a former teammate at Michigan State, admitted he never was touched on Smith's roughing penalty. Westhoff disagreed, saying it was a good call. Westhoff credited Fields, saying he avoided a blocked punt with an impressive get-off time of 1.94 seconds.
1. LaRon's LaScore: After a lifeless first half, S LaRon Landry energized the Jets with the first touchdown of his career -- an 18-yard interception return. Landry, their defensive MVP after three games, did a terrific job of reading Ryan Tannehill. The rookie QB drifted to his right and stared down TE Anthony Fasano, who was open along the sideline. Landry dropped into a deep-half zone and broke toward Fasano. Instead of going for his customary kill shot, Landry played the ball and sprinted into the end zone to make it 10-10 at the start of the third quarter.
2. The Blitz Beater: QB Mark Sanchez had a hunch the Dolphins would send an all-out blitz in criticial situations, and he was right. Down four points late in the fourth quarter, on a third-and-1 from the Dolphins' 7-yard-line, Sanchez hit WR Jeremy Kerley for a go-ahead touchdown. The Dolphins rushed eight players, leaving the cornerbacks and S Jimmy Wilson in man-to-man coverage. Sanchez fired a seeing-eye pass that somehow got between the outstretched hands of LB Karlos Dansby and DT Randy Starks. Kerley, in the slot, ran a quick slant on Wilson, shedding at tackle at the 1 for the score.
3. The Miss: Going into the game, the Jets' opponents had made 31 of 32 field-goal attempts against them, dating to the start of last season. In one afternoon, the Dolphins missed twice, including Dan Carpenter's miss from 48 yards on their first possession of overtime. Carpenter, kicking from the right hashmark, went wide left, just as he did earlier from 47 yards. The Jets got an good inside rush, with OT Austin Howard -- 6-foot-7 -- getting his left arm way up. If Carpenter had kicked it straight, it might have been blocked by Howard.
4. Atone Time: On the second possession of OT, Sanchez hit WR Santonio Holmes for 38 yards, setting up Nick Folk's game-winning field goal. Everything about this play was perfect: RB Shonn Greene stoned the blitzing Dansby. Holmes beat bump-and-run coverage by using his right arm to club CB Richard Marshall, who was flagged for holding. Sanchez lofted a perfect pass, actually releasing it before Holmes looked back. The Jets ran 79 offensive plays in the game, and this was one of the few that actually worked.
5. The Timeout: The Jets are a lucky team, and Kenrick Ellis is a lucky man. If Dolphins coach Joe Philbin hadn't called timeout a split-second before Folk's first try, which was blocked by Starks, the goat of the game would've been Ellis. He was the left guard in the FG unit, and the 346-pound lineman got knocked on his rear end as Starks exploded between him and long snapper Tanner Purdum. Perhaps Ellis let up upon hearing the whistle for the timeout. In a radio interview Monday night, Folk said some players eased up, knowing it didn't count. It' s hard to figure why coaches wait until the last possible moment before calling timeout to ice the kicker; all it does is give the kicker a practice swing, so to speak. On the actual game winner, Ellis did a good job on Starks.
1. Santonio Holmes. Returning to the scene of his infamous benching, Holmes rescued the Jets from what would’ve been a crushing defeat. He tied a career high with nine receptions, and recorded his first 100-yard receiving day (149) in 28 games. He came up big in overtime, one of his trademarks. Finally, he played “Santonio football,” as he called it. Let’s call it Atone Time.
2. Nick Folk. With an assist from Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, whose ice-the-kicker timeout backfired, Folk drilled the game-winning field goal from 33 yards away in overtime. Folk doesn’t get enough credit for being a clutch kicker, but he’s made some big kicks over the years.
3. LaRon Landry. He’s known for big hits, not pass coverage, but Landry showed he can make plays on the ball. He made the biggest defensive play of the game, intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown to start the third quarter. He dropped into zone coverage, read Ryan Tannehill’s eyes and displayed nice closing speed, jumping in front of TE Anthony Fasano just as the ball arrived. He gives the Jets a playmaking presence at safety, something they lacked.
1. Mark Sanchez. Another poor performance. He threw two interceptions (neither one entirely his fault), uncorked a couple of near-interceptions, missed open receivers and fumbled a shotgun snap. Even some of his completions were thrown behind the receivers. The only thing he did well was throw to Holmes; he hit him on nine of 14 targets. With the rest of the receivers, Sanchez was 12-for-30, eerily similar to last week’s 10-for-27 stinker.
2. The Tim Tebow package. The Jets unveiled Tebow in a new role -- pass catcher. It didn’t exactly shake up the Dolphins. Of his 12 plays on offense, Tebow lined up nine times as an H-back. He was used in the backfield, in the slot, on the wing and split out wide. On those plays, Sanchez was 2-for-7 for 25 yards (two drops). Tebow was targeted once, but he didn’t turn in time, allowing a deflected pass to hit him in the back. It was that kind of day.
3. Stephen Hill. He pulled a hamstring and probably will miss the next game. Truth be told, he could use a timeout. The rookie appears lost, as he was shut out for the second straight week -- seven targets, no catches. He should’ve scored, but he dropped a ball in the end zone -- killer mistake. He’s not a hopeless cause -- the kid has talent -- but the game is too big for him right now.
1. Greg McElroy. He was surrounded by chaos, backups at almost every position on the field, but the second-year quarterback never lost his poise. He showed good command of Tony Sparano's offense, never appearing rattled even though he was running for his life at times. He led the offense to 164 yards and 11 first downs in the first half. In short, he looked like he belonged. Backup QB controversy, anyone?
2. Nick Folk. The man made a 58-yard field goal. That's impressive whether it's in the preseason or the regular season. Rex Ryan called it the highlight of the night. Truth be told, it might have been the highlight of the preseason.
3. The End. The best moment of the Jets' summer occurred at 9:38 p.m. -- when the preseason came to a merciful end.
1. The pass defense. The starters didn't play, so there's no reason to panic, but the second- and third-teamers left a lot to be desired. They made third-string QB Trent Edwards look like Michael Vick. Edwards, whom the Jets tried to claim on waivers last year, competed 22 of 32 for 197 yards and two touchdowns. He also showed surprising mobility, running four times for 36 yards.
2. John Conner. On a third-and-1 in the third quarter, the Jets sent in their big back to pick up the conversion -- but he was stuffed. It was the third time he was stuffed in short yardage this preseason. In fairness to Conner, he didn't play in the first half and came in cold.
3. Demario Davis. Remember when Ryan compared Davis' leadership skills to Ray Lewis? That was back in April during the draft, and it made for a headline, of course. Davis finished a quiet training camp with another quiet performance. He started and played most of the game, but he was credited with only one tackle. Early in the game, he missed a couple of tackles, plays in which he was fooled badly. He has a ways to go. It would be a surprise if he contributes early in the season in the sub packages.
"I don't want to talk about anybody's specific roster spot," Ryan said after the 28-10 loss to the Eagles. "We'll look at the tape and we'll let you know tomorrow."
The Jets must cut 22 players by 9 p.m. Friday.
Conner said he didn't read anything into his participation, saying the coaches wanted him to play because of the "low numbers" at fullback. He's the only pure fullback on the roster. They lost H-Back Josh Baker to a season-ending knee injury. Rookie RB Terrance Ganaway was used at fullback in the first half. Conner came in for a few plays in the second half, getting stuff on a fourth-and-1 run -- his third unsuccessful short-yardage run in the preseason.
QB ROTATION: Third-stringer Greg McElroy (12-for-17, 90 yards) started and played into the third quarter, leading the Jets' only TD drive of the preseason -- a 14-play, 77-play drive in the first quarter. It ended with a 6-yard TD pass to Ganaway on a well-executed play-action. He was wide open. The Jets had gone 36 possessions without a touchdown.
"It was a sigh of relief," Ganaway said. "That was the feeling on the sideline."
Ryan liked what he saw from McElroy.
"I thought McElroy did a nice job when he was in there," he said. "He moved the team, showed poise and that was good to see."
McElroy was almost Tebow-esque at times, making plays with his feet. He ran five times for 33 yards, including a pivotal fourth-and-1 run around right end.
FOLK HERO: The Jets have to bee feeling good about their decision to keep Nick Folk over Josh Brown. Folk drilled a 58-yard field goal at the end of the first half, which he said was the longest of his career.
"That was probably the highlight of this game," Ryan said.
ODDS AND ENDS: DT Marcus Dixon suffered a stinger late in the game. ... No. 1 pick Quinton Coples played most of the game and finished with four tackles, 1.5 sacks, two QB hits and one pass breakup. ... OLB Garrett McIntyre solidified a roster spot. He was all over the field, recording a team-high seven tackles. ... Newly acquired P Sherman Lanning got a chance in his Jets debut, punting five times, but his net average was only 34.6 yards, with one inside the 20. Incumbent T.J. Conley averaged 43.7. Looks like Conley wins the job. ... Incredibly, the Jets managed only 8 total yards in the second half.