There was certainly no lack of excitement surrounding the inaugural NFL game at the New Meadlowlands stadium Monday night August 16; and no shortage of extensive plotlines regarding off-season acquisitions and significant player absences.
Coach Ryan has made his Super Bowl championship aspirations abundantly clear. He believed the Jets were a legitimate contender for the Lombardy Trophy before yielding to Indianapolis in the 2009 Playoffs. Subsequently GM Tannenbaum and the front offices appealed to the self-assured mentalities of Antonio Cromartie, Jason Taylor, Brodney Pool, Santonio Holmes, and LaDanian Tomlinson. The Jets have confidently integrated fresh players into premier roles, including Matt Slauson at LG and Kyle Wilson at CB.
But for a team that revolves around a profoundly resilient defense, the recent departure of Darrelle Revis exposes a glimmer of uncertainty. Coach Ryan’s assertions that his team can exceed their own lofty expectations while confronted by a potentially Revis-less season are not entirely persuasive. What would be revealed in the first preseason game?
Mark Sanchez persevered after his opening pass was intercepted completing 13 of his next 16 passes for 119 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown to Brad Smith roughly 9 minutes into the first quarter. Equipped with an upgraded offensive arsenal, Sanchez was efficient and he appeared virtually impervious to any ill effects of his off-season knee surgery. New additions Holmes (4 receptions for 55 yards) and Tomlinson (1 reception for 14 yards; 8 rushes for 17 yards) made impressive contributions. Jet fans optimistically witnessed glimpses of LT’s brilliance on a 14-yard touchdown run negated by a holding penalty. Shonn Greene, who arguably secured his position as the Jets dominant RB compiling 304 yards and 2 TDs in the 2009 playoffs, (5 rushes for 26 yards) solidified the Jets conviction in his ability to endure the prevailing responsibilities in an offense dependant on a brute-force running game.
The 31 points surrendered for the entire game are misleading when forming an overall perception of the starting defensive unit. Despite relinquishing a 1-yard Brandon Jacobs TD run, the Jets held their opponents to zero total yards and 3:38 time of possession in the first quarter, emphasized by a blocked punt and a gruesome Eli Manning fumble. Incidentally, Manning is questionable for the Giants next preseason game versus Pittsburgh. Calvin Pace was instrumental in locking down the Giants ground attack (3 solo tackles and 1 assist) and Cromartie delivered a couple pass deflections that could have just as easily been interceptions. Credit the freshly stitched Manning for eluding the Jets intimidating pass rush, who regrettably failed to convert any sacks.
Once the second half commenced, it was unclear which was actually colder: the second team defense or their recently emptied benches. The Jets were repeatedly embarrassed by rookie WR Victor Cruz who amassed 145 yards and 3 TDs on 6 receptions, one of which was an admittedly spectacular single-handed grasp over the extended coverage of Dwight Lowery. The secondary was routinely exposed by the Giants deputy QBs, who exploited stretches of deficient technique from CBs Drew Coleman and Marquice Cole. In the post-game news conference, Coach Ryan acknowledged he was “totally disappointed” by the second team inconsistency. “These are some guys that we’re counting on to give us good depth … and we got whipped by them, there’s no question about it.”
Ultimately, preseason losses illuminate the most vulnerable elements of a team, and this game was no exception. The Jets lacked any passion beyond their principals, and considering one glaring void in the defense’s present condition, it is discouraging to envision the consequences of any more departures from an imposing starting roster. Coach Ryan will unquestionably demand improvements from the second team defense in anticipation of preseason game #2 Saturday August 21 against Carolina, and with any luck he can communicate the enthusiasm and dedication of the primary squad to the men who, at any moment, would be called upon to assume their vital responsibilities.
About the Author
Written by Evan Rosenberg
Evan is a graduate student at New York University and a competitive chess player. His local roots generated the unwavering support for the Jets he exhibits to this day.