Monday, August 29, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Jets 17, Giants 3
By Rich Cimini
Recap | Box score | Photos
WHAT IT MEANS: So the Jets captured the Snoopy trophy as the winner of the first annual MetLife Bowl. Yawn. Based on the way his team played, Rex Ryan should punt the trophy. Forget about the final score, 17-3; the Jets’ starters were badly outplayed in the first half, outgained 224 yards to 73. The offense was a disaster, and the Jets made dumb penalties. Basically, they played like they didn’t give a hoot about the preseason.
WOE IS O: Mark Sanchez & Co. were brutal. Can you say “regression”? In seven possessions, the Jets’ starting offense punted five times, lost a fumble (Sanchez) and, somehow, saved face with a touchdown -- a 17-yard pass to Santonio Holmes. The Jets probably wouldn’t have scored the touchdown if it weren’t for Antonio Cromartie, who set up the offense at the Giants’ 35 with a 70-yard kickoff return.
Sanchez (8-for-16, 64 yards) was off his game from the outset, appearing indecisive as he made his reads. But this mess wasn’t all his fault. The pass protection was shoddy, and his receivers -- namely Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason -- couldn’t gain separation against the Giants’ cornerbacks. That could be something to watch, as Burress and Mason -- 34 and 37, respectively -- aren’t the fastest guys around.
The starters won’t play in Thursday night’s finale against the Eagles, which means the No. 1 offense scored only three touchdowns in 5½ quarters for the preseason. Blech!
DUMB & DUMBER: The Jets were undisciplined, committing five major penalties. The biggest blunder came from rookie DE Muhammad Wilkerson, who was ejected in the third quarter after taking a swing at RB Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs swung back, so he, too, was tossed. Wilkerson, whom the Jets are counting on to be a starter, deserves an earful from Ryan. That is unacceptable behavior.
But Wilkerson wasn’t the only guilty Jet. RT Wayne Hunter (unsportsmanlike conduct), S Brodney Pool (chop block on a punt), S Emanuel Cook (face mask) and CB Donald Strickland (unnecessary roughness) all committed 15-yard penalties. Shame on them.
All told, the Jets had seven penalties for 79 yards, including a holding call on WR Courtney Smith that nullified a TD run by backup QB Greg McElroy.
THE PLAX EFFECT: Burress doesn’t need to touch the ball to have an effect on the game. You saw that on Holmes’ touchdown reception. Burress lined up in the right slot, with Holmes on the outside, against the Giants’ three-by-two coverage. S Kenny Phillips rolled toward Burress, leaving Holmes in man-to-man against CB Corey Webster. Phillips tried to get back, but it was too late. Holmes ran a post route and got open in the back of the end zone.
Aside from that contribution, Burress’ anticipated matchup against his old team turned out to be a big zero -- as in zero catches. Burress, coming off his sensational debut against the Bengals, was targeted four times. In fact, Sanchez completed only four passes to his wideouts.
OPPORTUNISTIC D: For a team with a very good defense, the Jets made an alarmingly low number of interceptions last season (12). So far, they seem to be reversing the trend. S Jim Leonhard and LB David Harris intercepted Manning passes, giving the Jets six picks in three games (two by Leonhard). Leonhard’s interception was set up by Harris, who came on an inside blitz and slammed Manning.
BEND BUT DON’T BREAK: Aside from the interceptions, the Jets’ No. 1 defense did some nice things in one half of play, holding the Giants to 2-for-8 on third down and 0-for-1 in the red zone. But -- and this is a big "but" -- they were pushed around between the 20s. The Jets allowed 224 total yards in the first half, uncharacteristic for a Rex Ryan-coached defense. Their conventional pass rush was nowhere to be found, and there were a couple of missed tackles in the open field, including a big one by LB Bart Scott.
THE NEW BRAD: The Jets finally unveiled their 2011 version of the Wildcat, with rookie WR Jeremy Kerley -- no surprise -- taking the direct snap and playing the role of Brad Smith. The Jets ran it four times, resulting in 39 yards. Kerley ran twice for 13 yards, handed off to Joe McKnight for 8 and threw a pass -- yes, a pass! -- to Matt Mulligan for 18. That’ll give the Cowboys a little extra to think about as they prepare for the season opener.