The Good, the Bad and the Coples: What We Learned from New York Jets' 17-6 Loss
For the first time in six years, Brian Schottenheimer was not calling the shots on offense, a slimmer Rex Ryan was on the sideline, Wayne Hunter's horrible play at right tackle was not present and Vladimir Ducasse may have even improved.
While change is usually for the best, there were some aspects of the Jets' play that were just horrific and need to be addressed.
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Great: Quinton Coples
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The Jets' first-round pick from this year's NFL draft made sure that anyone doubting him in 2012 would be wrong. Quinton Coples, the defensive end out of the University of North Carolina, played an excellent first game no matter which Bengals offensive line he played against.
In the first quarter with the starters on the field, Coples was making plays on BenJarvus Green-Ellis as supporting characters like Muhammad Wilkerson and Mike DeVito were closing any possible gaps. Coples then decided to begin going on a nice little rampage once the second-string players began to be cycled in. By the time Coples' day was done, he recorded five tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and a pass deflection.
Leading up to the draft and training camp, there was concern surrounding Coples. He had a monster year his junior year in college, but his numbers dropped last seasons and it was rumored that he had been taking plays off and such attitude would continue once he entered the NFL. Coples made sure that would not happen, throughout the game he had a high motor going and was always looking to make a play on the ball, which could be seen when he had the pass deflection in the second quarter.
With the addition of Coples to the defensive line, and after seeing his performance in this first game, the Jets could have another defensive star on their hands. His presence, along with the smart decision by Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine to play out of a 4-3 defensive scheme this year, may make this one of the best Jets defensive lines since the "Sack Exchange."
Bad: Backup Cornerbacks
Julian Posey during New York Jets Training Camp.
Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE
Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson. Those are the names most Jets fans know when it comes to the Jets cornerbacks.
"But what about the other guys?"
Guys like Isaiah Trufant, Ellis Lankster and Julian Posey are the ones that come in during the second quarter and take over for Revis and Co. On Friday, watching them play against the Bengals' receivers was almost like watching a set of high school cornerbacks play against professional receivers.
One of the lowlights came on the Bengals' nine-play, 80-yard drive in the third quarter. Isaiah Trufant was doing a solid job of keeping up with Marvin Jones, but simply could not come through when it mattered most, fell and allowed Jones to make a 45-yard catch that only helped the Bengals score later that possession.
The one bright spot in this group was Julian Posey. Posey was playing like a guy who wanted to jump up in the depth chart. After Lankster and Trufant made errors, Posey would come through, making a stop that would keep the running back from turning a two-yard gain into a 20-yard gain, or covering a wide receiver so well that despite making a great play on the ball, the receiver still got forced out of bounds.
The nice thing about seeing the various errors by this group against the Bengals is that now they can go back to the film room and see what they did wrong in order to improve for next week and the regular season, in case a starter goes down.
Good: Austin Howard and Vladimir Ducasse (Surprisingly)
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The New York Jets gave their fans a treat during this first preseason game and that was not having Wayne Hunter start at right tackle. Hunter was the starter from the end of the 2010 season through the 2011 campaign and was one of the big reasons why Mark Sanchez was sacked 39 times in 2011.
On Friday night, Austin Howard received the nod from Tony Sparano and Co. Howard started off looking like Hunter when he faced some difficulty sealing off the inside, but he managed to get his legs going following that. He remained in the game for the rest of the first half and was able to block well, especially when it came to getting to the next level and blocking linebackers.
He had one other slip-up when he was playing left tackle in the second quarter with a false start, but aside from those minor errors, Howard looks like he could be a promising replacement for Hunter.
Meanwhile, possibly the second-least liked member of the Jets offensive line, Vladimir Ducasse, surprised people during Friday night's game. Unlike the opportunities he blew during last preseason, Ducasse looked like a solid second-string offensive lineman. During his time at left guard beginning in the first half, he was being very physical, while being able to make the necessary blocks to either protect the quarterback at the time or provide a hole for the running back.
Granted it's only one game, it was nice to see Ducasse finally making some progress and not making Mike Tannenbaum look completely foolish for drafting him.
Bad: Bilal Powell
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As of right now, Bilal Powell is being looked at as the third-string running back behind Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight. He did not play like he wanted the job against the Bengals.
On five carries, Powell gained a total of 16 yards. The biggest problem with the way Powell played on Friday was that it seemed as if he was trying to be too elusive. It's understandable if a running back's first move is to move laterally very quickly to avoid an initial hit or find an open hole, but on each of his carries, Powell was dancing around in the backfield, wasting valuable time where he could have picked up more yardage.
The Jets held onto Powell after drafting him last year because he has a good combination of power and speed, something they do not have in either Shonn Greene or Joe McKnight. On Friday, Powell was trying to hard to be like Joe McKnight and if his performance keeps up, he could have his spot on the depth chart gone and given to rookie Terrance Ganaway, who finished with similar numbers on Friday with four carries for 16 yards.
Good: Tim Tebow
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Despite his interception, which was just a poor pass to Jeff Cumberland, Tim Tebow's performance against the Bengals was rather good. He made play after play showing why the Jets opted to make a trade with the Denver Broncos to acquire him.
To start off his first drive as a New York Jet, Tebow makes a near-perfect pass to rookie Stephen Hill on a slant where Hill clearly beat the cornerback. He later followed up the pass by overthrowing a receiver, who was pretty well covered. Then Tebow did what he does best, which was pick up 13 yards on third down using his feet after maneuvering through the pocket and finding an open hole after seeing no receivers were open.
The biggest critique for Tim Tebow right now, though, is to work on his accuracy. There were several occasions where he would make the right read, but just make a bad pass. One instance where it could have cost the Jets big was on a hook route to Stephen Hill in the second quarter; Tebow let the ball fly a little too much forcing Hill to jump, allowing the cornerback to put a big hit on the rookie.
Luckily Hill was not hurt, but he could have easily been injured, and with Santonio Holmes not 100 percent, the Jets cannot afford to lose another receiver.
Bad: Backup Offensive Linemen
Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE
Aside from Vladimir Ducasse, who I stated earlier was surprisingly solid for once, everybody else who came in for the starting offensive line played like the old Ducasse. The second half was beyond sloppy for the offensive line and it was disappointing to see, considering how the pride and joy of the Jets used to be in the offensive line.
Even when their quarterbacks were not being sacked, the offensive line's leaky protection could be seen. For example, when Tim Tebow was picking up big chunks of yardage on the ground after dropping back, he was only getting about two or three seconds to throw the ball. The pressure from the defense was getting deep into the backfield, and luckily for the Jets and Tebow, there were holes where he could escape and make a play using his legs.
Things got worse in the second half as Greg McElroy would later take over for Tebow, his first game since being injured during last year's preseason. McElroy gave up a fumble as a result of the offensive line's play and took plenty of other big hits; that is not the way you protect your quarterback.
Last season, the Jets were having issues at offensive line because of a lack of depth. If a starter goes down in 2012, the same problem could resurface and be a major obstacle for the Jets to overcome with their high expectations going into this season.
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