Many of the contributors in last night's game will not be part of the Jets' team this season. Nevertheless, it's still interesting to review how the various position battles played out and how the players who will be on the team performed with an extended workload. Many of the players who don't end up on the 53 will be back at some point, whether that's with the scout team or on the active roster.
Quarterbacks - Down goes McCown!
The Jets took a big risk by giving Josh McCown a couple of drives to start this game and that risk almost backfield completely when he got nailed by a blitzing linebacker and was temporarily knocked out of the game.
Thankfully, he was fine and returned after one play, although his next pass was the worst one he's thrown all preseason as he rolled right and the defender jumped in front of his throw to the outside. That fortunately fell incomplete and he otherwise was an efficient 6-of-8, leading one field goal drive.
The play on which he got hurt was probably his best throw, as he hit Austin Seferian-Jenkins in stride on a crossing route for 20. However, he also had a well-timed throw on a quick slant. One other throw was low though.
After last week's debacle, Christian Hackenberg was a little better this week, once again emphasizing the enormous gulf in degree of difficulty between facing starters and facing back-ups.
At half-time, Hackenberg had completed six of nine passes with a well placed touchdown throw to Seferian-Jenkins at the back of the end zone helping the Jets to a 13-3 lead. However, he was just 4-of-13 after half time with a few inaccurate throws and three of the four completions being dump-offs.
His worst moment was probably a throw from near his own goal line which a defender jumped to break up. Had the defender been half a step quicker, that's an easy touchdown.
However, it was also disappointing to see him miss a chance for a second touchdown in the red zone. He saw an open Jalin Marshall too late and then his throw was low because he had to rush it to overcompensate. As you can see, Marshall was open before Hackenberg released the pass. He has to anticipate that better:
Bryce Petty, having hurt his knee last week, was wisely not risked. He should probably be the number two, for now at least. Let Hackenberg work with the scout team for the time being.
Offensive Linemen - Protective Shell
It looks like Brandon Shell has done enough to secure the right tackle position. He wasn't troubled in pass protection this week and had a couple of good edge-setting blocks:
Brent Qvale will back Shell up at right tackle, but he got the majority of his reps at right guard this week, many of them alongside Shell. Qvale, who played reasonably well, was one of a number of players who played multiple positions as the Jets continued to experiment on the line. (Jeff Adams played both tackle spots, Dakota Dozier and Jonotthan Harrison each played center and guard and Ben Braden played right guard and right tackle).
Other than Shell, the four starters (including Wes Johnson, who seems to have seen off a challenge from Harrison for the center job) just played the first two series with McCown in. Encouragingly, nobody got beaten in pass protection, but they had no success in the running game.
Brian Winters was once again disappointing, making a few mistakes at the point of attack. One run was blown up as he let his man beat his block to the inside. Johnson was called for holding on that play, but it looked like Winters was actually the guilty party.
Johnson had one good run block, but he also had one bad moment where his man beat him into the backfield and blew up a run for a loss.
Veterans James Carpenter and Kelvin Beachum were more reliable on the left side, but they still had a few mistakes between them.
Although the run blocking wasn't great from the starters, Winters, Johnson and Carpenter did all contribute to a nice gain for Bilal Powell by getting out in front of a screen pass:
With Ben Ijalana not playing, Adams got plenty of time at tackle but had mixed results. Some of his run blocking was good, but he also let his man off his block to stuff a few runs.
Dakota Dozier had some struggles at center, which is no real surprise, as he's always seemed more consistent at guard. He allowed penetration on a few plays. However, he did allow his man to collapse the pocket for a sack while at guard:
It was interesting to see the back-up center, Harrison, in at guard with Dozier at center at times. He held up quite well there, other than one play where his missed block led to a tackle for loss.
Assuming both are on the 53, it will probably come down to who the team trusts more between Harrison and Dozier in their secondary role as to who is initially active on gameday.
Alex Balducci also got some reps at center this week and his run blocking was pretty good, although he had one high snap and also overextended once in pass protection to let his man into the backfield.
Veteran Craig Watts hasn't been as good as he was last season and is apparently now injured. He got driven back into the backfield on one run that was blown up.
Braden seems to be the most impressive of the three undrafted rookies on the roster and he got off to a pretty good start with a couple of double-team blocks. However, he got beaten for a strip sack and allowed his man to stuff a few runs in the second half.
The other two undrafted rookies, Chris Bordelon and Javarius Leamon, each got reps at right guard and left tackle respectively. Leamon wasn't bad, although he allowed penetration on one play, leading to a run stuff. Bordelon got driven back into the backfield on the play where there was a fumble, perhaps contributing to the fact that the exchange wasn't made cleanly:
Running Backs - McGuire on fire
This week's stand-out was easily Elijah McGuire, who gained 56 yards on five carries. In fact, other than McGuire's carries, the Jets gained just 28 yards on 27 carries. I'll be writing more on McGuire later on today.
Powell didn't do much in the running game, but he was a factor in the passing game, setting up a field goal on a 20-yard scamper after catching a screen pass. However, he was unable to get over in time to prevent the hit that knocked McCown out of the game:
Romar Morris showed a couple of flashes and led the team with three catches. However, on one play that looked like it could have gone for a big gain, he was taken down in the open field following an excellent initial cutback. Morris had one or two issues in blitz pick-up too.
In limited action, Marcus Murphy really hurt his chances by fumbling a hand-off with less than two minutes to go. That gave the Eagles a chance to win.
Recent addition Jahad Thomas made his first appearance, but his four carries netted minus-one yards.
At fullback, Julian Howsare was definitely better than Anthony Firkser this week. As predicted, Firkser was employed at tight end on a few plays due to all the injuries at that position, but his blocking was poor from fullback and tight end. He needs to add some strength.
Finally, Matt Forté was rested once again. In case you missed it, he told reporters that the rumors he's being traded are bogus and that he's received assurances he will not be from the front office.
Pass catchers - Hansen devil
There weren't really any standout performances from the pass catchers this week, with Seferian-Jenkins' 32 yards enough to lead the team. Of course, he and Jalin Marshall - who caught a nice 17-yard pass for his only reception - will not be available to start the season anyway.
The Jets would have hoped for some production from rookies ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen. While Hansen showed up with two first downs on quick slants, Stewart was shut out. He did get absolutely lit up on a running play where they motioned him to tight end and got him to make a second level block though.
Stewart was not alone, as the only other Jets' wideouts to catch a pass were Robby Anderson and Kenbrell Thompkins - and those netted six yards between them.
Based on their usage in preseason, you'd have to imagine that Charone Peake, Thompkins and Chris Harper are contenders to make the roster, whereas Gabe Marks, Daniel Williams and Myles White are not. If they claim a couple, it's possible that none of these six could make it.
Tight end Chris Gragg had the biggest play of the day in the passing game, hauling in a 26-yard pass thrown slightly behind him down the seam. Unfortunately, he is believed to have broken his ankle on the play, further deepening the Jets' issues at the tight end spot with Eric Tomlinson and Jason Vander Laan already out.
Fortunately, Jordan Leggett was back and he contributed a couple of catches including a first down conversion in the flat. He had mixed results as a blocker though.
Finally, recent addition Brandon Barnes also saw action but wasn't targeted.
Check back later this morning for the defensive review!