New York Jets Preseason: Week 3 Stock Report
They may have lost the almighty Snoopy trophy to the New York Giants, but the scoreboard on Friday night does not accurately depict the amount of momentum the New York Jets are carrying into the preseason.
The truth is, the Jets won the varsity matchup, outscoring the Giants in the first half matchup between the starters. With Geno Smith playing arguably the cleanest half of football in his Jets career, the Jets have plenty to feel good about as the preseason transitions into the regular season.
Still, the Jets do have their share of issues to work out, particularly in the secondary, before the games count in the standings.
Here is the preseason stock report for the Jets after the team's third preseason game.
Stock Up: Geno Smith
The Jets certainly have their fair share of issues to deal with on both sides of the ball as the 2014 regular season approaches, but Geno Smith's steady preseason will give them some peace of mind to fall back on in the meantime.
Smith has not been lighting up defenses or breaking any kind of passing records, but there has been a clear, dramatic improvement over the inconsistent rookie that threw nearly twice as many interceptions as touchdowns.
A year removed from college, Smith is more poised and confident than he was a year ago. His poise has led to a significant improvement in his decision-making—he committed just one turnover in his three starts. His game against the Giants was particularly impressive as he made a number of solid throws and minimized poor decisions and erratic passes.
Smith may have ever been in a true, open competition with Michael Vick, but he has given the Jets no reason to consider making a switch. The only task now is for the second-year QB to carry his momentum into the regular season.
Stock Down: Dimitri Patterson
In a matter of days, veteran cornerback Dimitri Patterson has gone from being a lock in the starting lineup to an outcast. ESPN's Rich Cimini reports that he was inexplicably absent from Friday's preseason game against the Giants—a headline that is unheard of for an NFL player, never mind a veteran going into their ninth season.
According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the recent promotion of Darrin Walls may have contributed so some type of disgruntlement.
Why did Dimitri Patterson skip Friday's game? I'm told he's not thrilled with Jets CB pecking order. His injuries dropped him on depth chart— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) August 25, 2014
Based on the fact that the Jets have since suspended Patterson indefinitely for his actions (according to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk), it appears as if Mehta's report may hold some water.
Patterson's absence has irked some of his veteran teammates, including Willie Colon (h/t Darryl Slater of The Star-Ledger).
Willie Colon says every Jets player "deserves an explanation to some degree" from Dimitri Patterson, who went AWOL: http://t.co/FtYZQS6Bo6— Darryl Slater (@DarrylSlater) August 25, 2014
Not showing up to a game is a childish form of protesting no matter the reason for a demotion, but Patterson hardly had a sound argument in his favor. He played poorly in the preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts. The fact that the Jets' secondary has shown some improvement since his departure from the lineup only weakens his argument for a higher position on the depth chart.
Stock Up: Jace Amaro
No player on the roster has seen a more dramatic rise in his "stock" than rookie tight end Jace Amaro.
At the start of camp, just about everything that could have gone wrong went wrong for the Texas Tech product. Between a new playbook, a case of the drops and lingering knee issues, it started to appear as if Amaro's rookie season was going to be more of a "learning experience" than a productive year on the field.
However, since taking over for the injured Jeff Cumberland, Amaro's production has been on the upswing. With four catches, 37 yards and one touchdown against the Giants, his struggles at the beginning of camp seem like a distant memory.
The sudden spike in production from Amaro is certainly a good sign, but it also raises the question of how his role will change when Cumberland returns to the lineup in the regular season. If he continues to produce at this rate, Amaro will make it tough for the Jets to take him off the field.
Stock Down: Stephen Hill
Stephen Hill's performance as of late has not changed much at all—which is a problem. In a make-or-break summer for the former second-round pick, Hill has done little on the field to suggest that he is capable of developing into a top-caliber receiver.
During the spring, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg insisted that Hill was turning a corner in his development, but this soon could be an all too familiar story. Hill again has not measured up to some promising offseason evaluations, as he has come up with just two catches in three preseason games.
At this point, the issue for Hill is not so much about getting open and making the catch as it is about gaining the trust of his quarterbacks. Neither Geno Smith nor Michael Vick appear to be looking in Hill's direction.
Thanks to the Jets' weak receiver corps, Hill's youth and raw ability should reserve him a spot on the team for one more season. However, even if he makes the team, don't expect him to be anything more than a rotational player.
Stock Up: Brian Winters
In reality, the Jets are just one average left guard away from fielding a quality offensive line in 2014. Despite coming off a rocky rookie season, former Kent State tackle Brian Winters appears ready to give the Jets at least the competent play needed for the position.
As a whole, the Jets starting offensive line was stellar for most of the night against the Giants, not yielding a sack until the second half. Winters was hardly noticeable during the game—which is a good thing for a player who has struggled at times in pass protection.
According to Pro Football Focus, Winters has allowed just one quarterback hurry in 123 preseason snaps—a ratio the Jets will take every time.
Winters' strong run comes at the perfect time for him, as fellow 2013 draftee Oday Aboushi was starting to push for playing time. Aboushi started the second preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Winters will need to maintain and improve upon his level of play to keep his job in the long run, but for now, his role as the starting left guard appears to be safe.
Stock Down: Calvin Pryor
Rex Ryan and the Jets could not have been much happier about Calvin Pryor's professional debut against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2 of the preseason. However, the "Louisville Slugger" appears to have taken a step back in his second outing.
Working with the starting group for the first time in live preseason action, Pryor was a bit more gun-shy in his usually aggressive approach. Ryan took particular notice of Pryor's uncharacteristically quiet night, calling him out in his post-game press conference (h/t Darryl Slater of The Star-Ledger).
Rex Ryan on Calvin Pryor being tentative in Jets-Giants: 'I told him just to fire his gun a little bit.' http://t.co/iGO58y7IdX— Darryl Slater (@DarrylSlater) August 23, 2014
A logical explanation for Pryor's step back is that he was simply adjusting to working with the first team in a live game atmosphere. After all, flying around against Giants starters is much more difficult than beating up on Bengals backups.
There is no need to be concerned for Pryor after just one preseason game, but the Jets will need Pryor to be a more active player on game days when the results start to count in a couple weeks.
Stock Up: LeQuan Lewis
Calvin Pryor may not have been as explosive as usual, but there were plenty of other young members of the secondary who stepped up in the absence veteran players.
Replacing the concussed Antonio Allen, LeQuan Lewis was more than solid, holding his own against Giants starters. Playing a team-high 47 snaps, he allowed just 33 yards on four completions (according to Pro Football Focus). Lewis' strong night had a bit of foreshadowing—he had two interceptions in the practice two days prior.
Few players are more traveled than Lewis, who has worn nine different uniforms in his pro career, including one in the CFL. It is unusual for a player to finally "get it" this late in their career, but Lewis may have made just enough plays to finally stick with the Jets this year.
Stock Down: Caleb Schlauderaff
One of the few remaining projects from the Mike Tannenbaum era, signs are pointing to the end of the road for offensive lineman Caleb Schlauderaff.
After not seeing a single snap of action in the preseason game against the Giants, Schlauderaff has been officially replaced as the primary backup center by Dalton Freeman. This is a move that may have happened a year ago if Freeman's season was not ruined by injury in training camp.
With Oday Aboushi and Dakota Dozier occupying the other backup interior offensive line positions, there simply is no more room for Schlauderaff.
In retrospect, it is somewhat amazing that Schlauderaff has managed to stick around as long as he has without making any kind of significant impact in a meaningful game. The end of the Schlauderaff era has been looming for quite some time—the Jets may as well end it now.
Stock Up: Quinton Coples
After a slow start to the preseason, the Jets' entire defensive front came alive against the Giants on Friday night—but no player was more active and disruptive than outside linebacker Quinton Coples.
The former defensive lineman dropped a significant amount of weight this offseason to better fit in his outside linebacker position. So far, Coples' dietary discipline is paying off: he is playing faster and is more explosive than ever before.
Against the Giants, he did not record a sack, but he led the team with five tackles, including four solo and one for a loss. According to Pro Football Focus, he had a quarterback hit and a hurry.
Coples has yet to turn in a season's worth of production to warrant his draft selection in the middle of the first round in 2012. Now that he is fully healthy and comfortable in his new position at outside linebacker, Coples has a chance to see his production explode in his third season.
Stock Down: Kyle Wilson
On the heels of a breakout 2013 season, it appeared as if Wilson was finally turning the corner as the Jets' slot cornerback.
But in just a few preseason games, Wilson has reverted his play to the point where he looks more like the lost rookie who was benched in 2010 than the confident player who shined in 2013.
Through three preseason games, Wilson has allowed a passer rating of 152.1 and has allowed all but one of the ten passes thrown against him to be completed, including a touchdown.
Some of Wilson's struggles can be blamed on the relatively vanilla schemes Rex Ryan and his coaches are using in the preseason. Either way, with all of their holes in the secondary, the last thing the Jets need is for one of their few experienced cornerbacks to undergo a regression this season.
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