CINCINNATI -- The New York Jets were an undisciplined mess Saturday night against the Cincinnati Bengals in a 25-17 win at Paul Brown Stadium. They committed 12 penalties for 133 yards, including seven personal fouls -- Breno Giacomini (two), Brian Winters (two), Willie Colon (one), Stephen Hill (one) and Demario Davis (one).
Giacomini and Colon set an early tone, losing their cool in a couple of skirmishes. Evidently, the Jets (2-0) arrived with a chip on their shoulder, dating to last year's blowout loss to the Bengals. Somehow, they managed to overcome a 17-3 deficit despite a shaky performance by the starting defense.
A few other takeaways from the game:
Geno Smith didn't do anything to make the Jets re-think their plan at quarterback. He played the entire first half -- a total of 31 plays -- and was good enough on 30 of them. The only blemish was his first interception of the preseason, but it may not have been entirely his fault. There appeared to be a miscommunication with David Nelson on a quick throw. All told, Smith (10-for-13, 98 yards) played six series, leading the offense to two touchdowns and a field goal. Impressive, right? Well, take a closer look. The first touchdown drive was only 19 yards, following a takeaway, and the second came against the Bengals' backups. Still, he made good decisions, checking down to his second reads and running when necessary. In fact, he scored on a 1-yard run. Michael Vick (5-for-9, 70 yards) threw a touchdown pass in garbage time. It's still Smith's job.
The biggest positive on offense was the performance of Chris Johnson (10 carries for 63 yards), who flashed some of that old burst. He ran mostly out of the pistol formation and was able to get around the corner a couple of times. Chris Ivory (ribs) didn't play, so Johnson and Bilal Powell (2-yard touchdown run) were the primary ballcarriers. Overall, the running game was much better than last week.
The Jets didn't look like a top-5 defense (Rex Ryan's prediction), especially in the secondary. It was a brutal performance by the pass defense, as Andy Dalton finished 8-for-8 for 144 yards and a touchdown. When facing the Bengals' starters, the Jets allowed two touchdowns and a field goal in three series. This wasn't just a cornerback issue, this was an everywhere issue. Nickel back Kyle Wilson was torched for a 43-yard touchdown (Dawan Landry was late with deep help) and safety-turned-corner Antonio Allen surrendered a 35-yard completion. Allen, in his first game at corner, was tested only that one time. The Jets need Dee Milliner (ankle) to get well in a hurry. They also need help on the other side. The cornerback issue is more glaring than ever.
You want some good news about the defense? In his NFL debut, rookie safety Calvin Pryor made a couple of impact plays. He recovered a fumble on a strip sack by Davis and blew up wide receiver Cobi Hamilton on a pass play, separating ball from receiver. No doubt, the Jets expect to see plenty of those big hits from Pryor, one of the main reasons why they drafted him 18th overall. He didn't start, but he got work with the first team, which played the entire first half. Unfortunately, Pryor didn't get a chance to face Dalton, A.J. Green & Co. Overall, this was a positive first step.