After a tough 20-16 loss against the Texans last week, the Jets returned to New York to face the Cincinnati Bengals in a Sunday night preseason battle. The game was nowhere close to a battle, the Jets started off by taking a 10-0 lead and never looked back.
The final score was 27-7, needless to say a drastic improvement from the Jets Week 1 performance; the score also could have been higher since the Jets had the ball in the red zone with two minutes but chose to kneel and let the clock run out, rather than running up the score.
Here is a look at how the starters at each position performed for the Jets.
As always, feedback is welcome. Enjoy!
When the timing was right, Sanchez looked great on the field. Against the Bengals, he threw for two touchdowns—a slant Santonio Holmes and a beautiful fade to Plaxico Burress.
In the end, Sanchez went 12-for-20 with 173 yards. Despite the terrible conditions, Sanchez helped put together the Jets' 99-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter after going 0-for-6 on third down during previous drives. If it were not for said drive, his grade could have been lower for the game.
Once Sanchez and his receivers are on the same page, the Jets offense will be a lot more explosive, but that is all a part of training camp and preseason.
Because of a skin infection, Jets starting running back Shonn Greene had to watch the game from afar. To replace the back entering his third year, the Jets gave LaDainian Tomlinson the majority of the carries while the starting offense played.
Contrary to what most would have thought, Tomlinson could simply not produce against the Bengals defense. Tomlinson had nine carries only going for a total of 16 yards—his longest run being for six yards.
Tomlinson started last year and rushed for over 900 yards, proving that he could still play in the NFL, but with such a disappointing performance against one of the worst teams in the league; his future is questionable.
No surprise here, "The Terminator" continued to hit hard as the second-year fullback led the way for LaDainian Tomlinson on running plays. The lack of production from the running game is what is keeping his grade for the game so low.
Hitting opponents hard is great, but at the same time, these hits need to open up holes for the running back, Conner's hits simply were not doing so. He also faced a stonewall on his one and only rushing attempt where he gained one yard.
Against the Bengals, it seemed as if Dustin Keller returned to the form everybody saw at the beginning of last season. With four receptions for 73 yards, he could easily become Sanchez's favorite target once again.
As for the grade in comparison to the praise, like I said in the Mark Sanchez slide, timing was off. On the one target where Keller did not catch the ball, he and Sanchez were not on the same page as Sanchez threw the ball wide of Keller, and Keller had no idea where the ball was.
Other than the error on the route, Keller looked pretty good and will be a nice asset during the regular season.
It comes as no surprise that Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress produced as they went up against the Bengals secondary on Sunday.
Each player scored a touchdown, but the most impressive was Plaxico Burress' diving touchdown catch in the second quarter (picture). Although he has spent most of training camp on the sideline because of an ankle injury, Burress obviously paid attention to how the Jets run their system as Sanchez signaled to him prior to the play, leading most to believe he told Burress to run a go route on the play.
As I said earlier, there were some timing problems between Mark Sanchez and his receivers as they could not complete many of their incomplete passes because of timing and mental errors, but as long as they get those out of the way by September 11th, the Jets receiving core will be a force to be reckoned with.
Compared to the previous week, the Jets offensive line was tremendously better. Considering their performance against the Texans, tremendously better is not saying much, though. In Houston, the offensive line allowed a lot of pressure and a few sacks.
Against the Bengals, it was a different story, some pressure was applied on Sanchez, but nothing like Week 1, and aside from a few false starts by Vladimir Ducasse, they were solid.
The biggest problem was that they could not get their run blocking going. I stated earlier in the slideshow that LaDainian Tomlinson was only able rush for 16 yards on nine attempts, and the offensive line has to take part of the blame for this lack of production.
The Jets have a great offensive line coach in Bill Callahan; they do not have too much too worry about, even though the line was subpar on Sunday night.
While the Bengals created a brick wall for the Jets to try and run through, the Jets defensive line did the same. The Jets were able to hold Cedric Benson to 14 yards on seven attempts, and the cherry on top was the Jets forcing Andy Dalton to fumble and having the ball roll all the way back to the 2-yard line.
There is still some uncertainty as to who will get the majority of playing time at the defensive end position opposite Mike DeVito; it could be rookie Muhammad Wilkerson or the third-year veteran Ropati Pitoitua.
While the defensive line lost some players like Shaun Ellis and Trevor Pryce during the offseason, they were able to get younger, stronger and better through the draft and will have a good 2011 season if they continue to play the way they have been playing.
Even without Bart Scott, the linebackers were able to hold their own against the Bengals offense with veteran David Harris leading the way. Of the group of linebackers that played, David Harris led by example as he recorded tackles (one for a loss).
His ability to track down the ball carrier before they get a big gain helped the Jets on Sunday and will help the Jets in the coming years, he is definitely worth the big contract he got once the lockout ended.
Aside from Harris, no other starting linebackers stood out, but they were solid and did not give up big gains, which is what it all comes down to in the end.
The cornerbacks had their moments like when Darrelle Revis dove for a bad pass thrown by Andy Dalton, trying to get his first interception since the 2009 season or when Antonio Cromartie was able to cover his man all the way until the pass was out of bounds, preventing what could have been a 15-yard reception.
While they had some of those quality plays, there were plays like A.J. Green's hitch where Darrelle Revis could not catch him and had to be saved by the safeties. Other poor plays included a third-down conversion where Kyle Wilson gave the receiver too much space as he got a first down, and the Bengals scored at the end of the drive.
Hopefully, the Jets cornerbacks who are supposed to be the best of best can rebound from their average performance against the Cincinnati on Sunday.
Possibly the most surprising group of the night was the safeties. Eric Smith and Jim Leonhard were big question marks entering this season as Leonhard was recovering from a broken leg he suffered in practice last season, and Smith was shaky at times when he replaced Leonhard.
Both caught an interception and were able to cover receivers well. While he only had a deflected pass along with the interception, Eric Smith's coverage was great, and he is coming into his own as a free safety.
Special Teams Grade: B-
In the first quarter, kicker Nick Folk missed a 43-yard field goal and later made a 50-yard attempt. The kicker is sketchy at best as you never know whether he is going to make or miss a kick.
As of right now, he is still in a position battle with young kicker Nick Novak who did not attempt a field goal but was brought in to kick an extra point when the Jets drove down the field and scored after Folk's miss.
As for the kick and punt return game, the rookie Jeremy Kerley did not have a breakout game but was solid and nimble as a return man and is looking like a suitable replacement for Brad Smith.
Overall Grade: B/B+
There were not too may special things going on in this game; the Jets were slow to score against a Bengals team entering the rebuilding stages, and they seemed average.
By eliminating some simple errors, which will come over the next few weeks of training camp and playing at the standard they are held too, the Jets will be an explosive team that could make a run at the Lombardi trophy in 2011.
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