None of the first-teamers made the start for the New York Jets, unless you count the suspended Santonio Holmes. A lot of backup and third string jobs were up for grabs last night and those battles were quite interesting to watch.
For others that were more assured of spots on the team were in need of good play. Two of those players showed the poise necessary to hold down each of his respective spot, while the other struggled and may have opened the door for another player to step in.
Let's first look at the guys who justified their spots...
The Jets have been receiving some heat for their treatment of Kellan Clemens. To this point, Clemens has seemingly outplayed the veteran Brunell, and has been rewarded by designation as the No. 3 quarterback and was forced by the Jets' front office to take a pay cut in his salary.
Brunell however demonstrated the many reasons why the Jets brought him in to backup Mark Sanchez. He showed poise and command getting the ball spread around to his backs and receivers. He consistently hit his receivers in stride and knew exactly when to get rid of the ball.
He connected on 11 - 17 passes, and threw TD passes of two yards to TE Jeff Cumberland, and 51 yards to Santonio Holmes. He brought the Jets back from a 10-0 deficit and won the game with the TD to Holmes.
On the drive for the Cumberland TD, he converted on third and long getting the ball away at the last second to RB Danny Woodhead.
This was a very good showing for Brunell and much needed to justify his role as the primary backup quarterback.
At the beginning of the off-season, it seemed all but assured that Joe McKnight was going to be the "change of pace" running back behind Shonn Greene and L.T. Now that the preseason has played out, that is now anything but assured.
McKnight has had an up-and-down summer. He has shown flashes of brilliance, especially on special teams, but there have been a lot of red flags as well.
First, he has shown a propensity to break big plays. He had a great punt return against the Panthers in week two of preseason, but it has been downhill every since. He's also prone to fumble and then lose confidence.
Last night, he broke away from the pack last night, but then fumbled the football on a between-the-tackles running play. After that point, he lost confidence and ran tentatively again.
Rex Ryan let you know his feeling on the running back situation by continually rotating McKnight, Woodhead and Washington like a revolving door in a hotel lobby.
Washington demonstrated good vision, good balance, and a second gear that makes it apparent he can break big plays. Woodhead was his usual shifty and solid, gaining yards and catching the ball. Washington and Woodhead have certainly shown more than McKnight. Will it be enough to sway the coaching staff off of McKnight?
Both these guys played well. Cumberland had the TD, but Mulligan got himself open with more regularity. If the team does decide to carry another tight end to go with Dustin Keller and Ben Hartsock, they would be fine with either of these two men in my estimation. If the Jets decide to carry just two tight ends, Mulligan and Cumberland stated their case to the rest of the NFL last night to any team looking for a tight end.
Holmes saw significant action last night because he is slated to miss the first four games of the season due to a suspension. As you would expect, he was brilliant playing against Philadelphia's backups. He made the biggest play of the game with a 51-yard touchdown reception. Although, he did fumble for the second straight game.
Clowney wasn't the deep threat he was last pre-season, but it was good to see him run effective routes. He got himself open on a nice deep out for a first down early in the game. Apparently he showed the coaching staff enough as WR Larry Taylor was cut today.
John "The Terminator" Conner
Conner has shown a lot this pre-season. He is certainly the future fullback for the Jets. One important thing that happened last night was Conner's fumble. The Jets' offense occasionally calls for the fullback to run a misdirection play. This was a very effective play for the Jets both last season and the season before. Tony Richardson still runs it better than Conner and the fumble last night didn't help his cause.