The New York Jets have done it in the first preseason game. They have shut out the Atlanta Falcons at home for the first time in franchise history. Sorry, I got ahead of myself, let’s rewind, yes the New York Jets just played in their first game of the 2018 NFL season, and what a game it was. As I have stated above, the New York Jets, for the first time in their NFL franchise history, have shut out a team in the preseason at home. They have accomplished that 3 times on the road but never at home. If that doesn’t smell like a magical new beginning than I don’t know what will. Let’s take a look at last night’s highlights.
The QB Turn-table
The Jets QBs last night turned it up. Between Darnold, McCown, and Bridgewater throwing the Jets had 21 catches on 27 attempts to combine for a whopping 185 yards total in the air with the majority coming from newcomer Sam Darnold. McCown started the show and played one series before allowing Teddy B to come in and take over. Bridgewater played a couple of series and amassed 85 yards and 1 TD on 7 catches out of 8 attempts all while looking like he never was injured.
After a long time away from the gridiron, @teddyb_h2o put it all on display last night.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) August 11, 2018
That was the key there last night as Bridgwater was looking smooth, calm and cool in the pocket and not a nervous wreck which helped him greatly. And a new and improved Jets offensive line most definitely helped to allow Bridgwater to stay in the pocket and make those plays. After Bridgwater’s time was up the chants started at MetLife for Sam. And what a noise it made. I will be the first to admit the kid looked good last night and I was not his biggest supporter, but he looked good. 13 completions on 18 attempts for 96 yards and his first NFL TD. Darnold was showing that he was number 3 material. The moves he had and the runs he had showed he could move in the pocket and run when needed. Week 1 material? Maybe, but more footage is needed to solidify that spot. Darnold, welcome to the NFL show.
RB Ground Pound
This game most of the running backs got the love and even the QBs got in on the fun too. Racking up 78 yards total for the night on 32 carries for just under 2.3 yards a carry is terrible on paper, but the plays were phenomenal. And of course, Uncle Josh kicked it off during his first series. Powell got in the mix too on some big plays that got called back which made his total almost 1:1 which for a heavy RB room that is not good.
Crowell got some love from Bridgewater connecting on a 16 yard TD for the first time in the Green and White before leaving the field with a head injury. This opened the door for the rookie Trenton Cannon who snagged 40 yards on 11 carries while also attempting a few punt returns. However, watching those PRs back on film will give you a heart attack, he muffed 2 of them. Rawls got no love tonight allowing the rookie to shine instead.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) August 10, 2018
A Jets Tight End Did What?
Yes, you read that right. Not one, but two Jets tight ends battling out for number one were in the top 3 spots for receiving last nigt. Clive Walford and Neal Sterling were the number two and three most productive WR on the Jets thanks to Bates and the new West Coast offense style. Neal Sterling, a non-contender for the TE job, stood out with Herndon sidelined and shined brightly. He snagged 4 catches on 5 targets for 38 yards before leaving the game due to injury which allowed Walford to step in. Walford jumped into the game with his Air Jordans on apparently, snagging a ball thrown a little high by Darnold for 18 yards and another for 9 yards making his total 2 for 2 on 27 yards.
To Wide Receive or to Wide Receiver…
The WR group was on fire and the fire burned brighter with each passing QB throw. Kearse snagged his one and only target tonight on a fire throw in traffic and up the middle from Bridgewater. Anderson also got some love on a cross action pass up the middle. The biggest target was Charles Johnson and what love he got. Three trips to the end zone and three touchdowns passes with two of them being called back before one finally stuck and it happened to be Darnold’s first NFL TD.
Tre McBride got some love as well moving the chains up. But the disappointment came from recently suspended ArDaruis Stewart who was targeted twice and came up empty. Not something you want to do when you just got busted for violating the drugs and PEDs policy.
Beware of Linebackers, They Bite
The Jets have always boasted having one of the best linebackers core in the NFL and was no exception. Jordan Jenkins and Josh Martin were excellent on the run game stopped while playing OLB. Even Dylan Donahue, who pleaded guilty early last month and served time in county, was playing on a higher level that not many expect from the young man. He notched his first NFL sack and 2 tackles for losses.
Folorunso Fatukasi and Mike Pennel also notched a sack and Nathan Shepard got to see what it was like to play in the NFL, lining up in the front with Leonard Williams and Mike Pennel and deflecting a couple of passes. New additions Neville Hewett and Avery Williamson investments are already paying out dividends with Hewett picking off a tipped ball for an INT and Williamson stopping the run game like he did back in Tennessee. All in all the Jets LB core is still kicking on a high level. They are starting to break slowly into the QB’s pocket knocking the ball out and hitting the QB a few times.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) August 11, 2018
The Secondary tonight was firing on 95% of its cylinders. While dominant, there were a few plays that got past Trumaine Johnson, J.J. Wilcox and Jamal Adams that hurt on a deep level. However, new talent Brandon Bryant and Xavier Coleman gave hope tonight for new cornerbacks in the Jets department. With Parry Nickerson not playing for unknown reasons, Bryant who was a free agent from the supplemental draft made his presence known by shutting down a big play and showing why the Jets picked him. Coleman also flashed signs of a great corner tonight in between slipping up on big plays every now and again.
Very Special Teams
The Jets’ special teams was great and that is saying a lot, negative and positive. Lachlan Edwards punted the ball 6 times for 264 yards. About 44 yards per punt when the Jets needed to get it out of the danger zone. But the big surprise was rookie Taylor Bertolet who played in place of Cairo Santos. Bertolet was phenomenal knocking a 45-yard kick in his first NFL try and 2 extra points. This could give the other kickers a run for their money in this department.