Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and the NY Jets: 8 Takeaways from Week 1
Week 1 for the New York Jets was advertised as the launch of Tebowmania as Tim Tebow made his first appearance for "Gang Green" in the 2012 NFL home opener. Turns out, Mark Sanchez was the true pilot of the Jets impressive victory over the Buffalo Bills.
After 35 preseason drives in which the Sanchez/Tebow duo combined for a grand total of zero touchdowns, Sanchez silenced his critics—at least for one week—throwing for 266 yards and three touchdowns.
The NFL learned eight major things about the 2012 NY Jets, starting with the QB situation.
1. Mark Sanchez Is the NY Jets Starting Quaterback
Mark Sanchez let out an offseason and preseason of frustrations today by completing 19-of-27 passes for 266 yards and three TD's. Sanchez was sharp, accurate and in charge of the offense. Even after an early ill-advised interception on a forced shovel pass, Sanchez did not appear rattled or insecure.
The bottom line for the NY Jets is that if they are going to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender this year, it will have more to do with Mark Sanchez's arm than Tim Tebow's legs.
Next: Tim Tebow
2. TTTBD: Tim Tebow to Be Determined
Tim Tebow's greatest accomplishment in Week 1 was on special teams in the fourth quarter when he cleanly fielded an onside kick in garbage time.
And oh, right...the Wildcat offense that the Jets have kept under higher security than the Seal Team 6 raid on Osama Bin Laden was finally unveiled.
I am a fan of the Wildcat's potential. I believe that it gives opponents a confusing element to prepare for, and if run correctly, it can lead to big plays and game-changing momentum swings.
Tebow had eight rushes from the Wildcat package for a meager 12 yards; and while some might consider that a failure, the truth is that Jets didn't need a lot of production out of Tebow today and there was no need to waste some of the more creatively designed plays fans expect to see this season.
Next: Move over Antonio Cromartie
3. Stephen Hill Is the True #2 WR on the NY Jets
During the preseason, cornerback Antonio Cromartie made some waves when he proclaimed himself to be the Jets second best wide receiver.
Mr. Cromartie...meet Stephen Hill.
Hill, a second round draft pick who is long on speed and short on experience, made his presence felt in a hurry today with five catches for 89 yards and two TD's. Hill is going to be a major component of the Jets offense if they expect to see sustained success.
If Hill can draw coverage his way and free up Santonio Holmes, the Jets could find themselves with a legitimate two-receiver threat. Today was a great start for the rookie.
Next: Revis to the Rescue
4. Darrelle Revis to the Rescue...as Usual!
It was the first quarter of the game and Mark Sanchez had just thrown his only bad pass of the game—an interception on their first offensive drive of the day. The Bills had a short field to work with and momentum was up for grabs.
Enter Darrelle Revis, who made a leaping interception of a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass that quickly erased the memory of the Jets earlier mistake. Revis is such a difference maker and this was the perfect way for him to start his 2012 season.
Revis later left the game with a head injury. His status for Week 2 and beyond is vital to the success of the Jets defense.
5. The Run Defense Is Suspect
The Jets run defense allowed C.J. Spiller to torch them for 169 yards on just 14 carries. That's over 12 yards-per-carry with the longest registering for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Throughout the preseason, the Jets defensive line played terrific. Today, they really had issues getting pressure or penetration on the Bills offense. In fact, the Jets defensive line was only responsible for three tackles during the entire game. Throw in the fact that they had zero sacks and the play of the line is going to have to improve.
Next: Preseason means nothing
6. Preseason Means Absolutely Nothing
When will we finally realize that the preseason means absolutely nothing in the NFL?
The Jets had one touchdown in four preseason games. They had six today.
The bottom line is that neither stat means the Jets are either a Super Bowl contender or Toilet Bowl contender.
The NFL is about consistency over 16 weeks. It is about peaking at the right time, staying healthy and constantly evolving as opponents catch on to your strengths and weaknesses.
The true talent and fate of the 2012 New York Jets will be proven by whether they are playing or watching football in January, not by what they did in an August preseason game.
Next: The Swagger is Back
7. Austin Howard Is More Than Capable
The Jets had an offensive line was just that during the preseason...offensive. They gave up constant sacks, pressures and failed to open up holes in the running game.
Wayne Hunter was drowning at right tackle and the Jets knew they had to take a chance and start the inexperienced Austin Howard.
Howard's first match up was none other than Mario Williams, fresh off signing his 100 million dollar contract with Buffalo this offseason. Williams, one of the games great sack artists was held silent all afternoon. In fact, he finished the game with just a single tackle. No sacks, no tackles for losses and no pressures.
Howard's performance was surprisingly solid and Jets fans can breathe a bit easier tonight knowing that the right tackle position seems to no longer be a glaring cause for concern.
8. The Swagger Is Back...for Better or Worse
The Jets have been heavily criticized for their swagger and bravado of recent seasons. Rex Ryan has guaranteed everything from headlines to playoff berths to Super Bowl victories.
The culture of the Jets is one of confidence and brashness. Whether you like their style or not, one thing we learned today was that while Ryan might have toned down his guarantees, the Jets are in no short supply of their old swagger.
Stephen Hill, on a first down catch early in the game, celebrated by throwing his hands forward and gesturing for a first down the same way Santonio Holmes often does.
Antonio Cromartie slowed down as he ran an interception back for a touchdown and showboated for a moment before making the over-exaggerated leap into the end zone.
I'm not saying that today's events were detrimental to the team. Isolated, they are not that important. However, given the attitude and communication problems this team had last year, my hope is that they will remember the lessons they proclaimed to learn after the 2011 season.
Only time will tell, much like everything else in the NFL.