The third week of the NFL Preseason is widely known as a team’s final dress rehearsal. The starters usually play the entire first half, their last chance to “iron out the kinks.” Indeed, week three’s the barometer of where a team stands entering the season, as the remainder of the preseason is for battling over final roster spots. And watching tonight’s New York Jets preseason game – the annual battle of New York – it’s readily apparent the Jets are in trouble.
New York Jets Preseason Week Three Takeaways
Who Will be the Starting Quarterback?
Usually, the starting quarterback in week three of the preseason will be the team’s starting quarterback when the games count. Well, for tonight’s game, coach Todd Bowles anointed Christian Hackenberg as the starter, having announced earlier this week that Josh McCown wouldn’t play.
Does this mean Hackenberg will start the season for the Jets? Well, it’s hard to imagine after tonight’s performance. To be fair, he didn’t have much help, as the offensive line was atrocious. Taking advantage of Hackenberg’s uneasiness, the New York Giants blitzed him on the first several plays, one of which resulted in an easy sack. Hackenberg looked rattled, he never found a comfort level. He finished the night completing 12 of 26 passes, one of which was a late touchdown pass when he stepped in for an injured Bryce Petty. But don’t let the final score fool you. The touchdown (and the Jets entire evening), had already been overshadowed by Hackenberg’s two interceptions, both of which were returned for touchdowns.
The Jets quarterback situation is worse than originally thought. Going with Hackenberg, just to see what he’s got, is certainly the logical choice. But how much more of this ineptitude can fans watch? It certainly appears that the Jets don’t have a choice; Josh McCown should be the starter. And Bryce Petty did some nice things on the field tonight, he should be the backup. But it probably won’t make any difference because of the Jets offensive line.
The Offensive Line is a Mess
Whoever wins the Jets quarterback “competition” can’t expect to have much help. The offensive line play has been poor. Last year’s line struggled mightily, and that included several veteran linemen the Jets have since let go. Right now, the Jets linemen are young and inexperienced, and simply lack the strength and athleticism to compete at this level.
Brandon Shell is fighting with Brent Qvale for the starting right tackle job, and tonight he was given the start. But his performance won’t help, as Shell was beaten repeatedly by Jason Pierre-Paul. One of those plays resulted in a Giants safety. Shell was just bad, and the rest of the line wasn’t much better.
There’s no workhorse in the backfield or seasoned receiver flanking the side. There’s an offensive line that can’t block, but even if they could, there’s no one competent enough to lead them. Could the offense look any worse? It appears the Jets will have to rely on their defense, but maybe that isn’t the best option either.
The Defense has Work to Do
Tonight’s good news is that the Jets first-team defense only surrendered one touchdown. The bad news, however, is that the Giants offense didn’t need to score, their defense did that for them.
Sure, the Jets had some positive moments defensively. Sheldon Richardson, in particular, looked good, showing great speed around the edges on a sack in the second quarter. His pressure on Eli Manning earlier in the game is what caused Juston Burris‘ interception.
The linebacking group as a whole was uninspiring, and the secondary’s performance was cause for concern. Eli Manning routinely found open receivers in the middle of the field. Yes, Morris Claiborne didn’t play, but it likely didn’t matter. The secondary, including rookies Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, looked overmatched. And, that’s without the Giants playing both Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall. The worst of that was watching both rookies miss routine tackles early in the game. They still made plays, Adams especially, but it looks like both have plenty of room for improvement.
The dress rehearsal is over and it’s time for the season to start. But it certainly looks like it’ll be a long one for the New York Jets.
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