In-depth analysis: Giants "at" Jets (Offense)

The Jets had a couple of touchdown drives in the first half, but generally struggled to move the ball at all, as penalties and field position constantly put them in difficult situations.

Other than the two touchdown drives, the Jets didn't pick up another first down until their last drive of the third quarter. They picked up yardage more consistently thereafter, but still only scored three points after halftime.

Let's review the offensive performances in depth:

Quarterbacks - Slam Darnold

We seem to be in a bizarre parallel universe where presumptive starting quarterback SAM DARNOLD is totally immune to criticism.

He only completed 50 percent of his passes, recorded just 86 passing yards on eight drives and went three and out on five consecutive drives. That kind of output would have led to widespread criticism for any of the Jets' recent quarterbacks, but somehow it's viewed as another impressive performance that has solidified his hold on the starting role.

We can't stand for such one-sided analysis, so let's restore balance to the universe and completely roast him.

(Disclaimer: Darnold was fine; better than his numbers would suggest. He's commanding the offense impressively. We just can't have a situation where any deficiencies in his game are completely ignored or overlooked because that's not healthy).

The first drive was impressive for sure. However, how many times have we seen Jets quarterbacks excel during the scripted portion of the gameplan, only for the offensive production to dissipate thereafter? They opened up the playbook on this drive, exploiting the fact the defense was seeing most of these plays for the first time.

The "he was hampered by his porous offensive line" excuse doesn't really wash any more either. Sure, the left tackle remains a weak spot, but the line is 80 percent intact and held up fine in pass protection.

Breaking down his individual passes, Darnold was almost intercepted twice, on a high throw and a pass that was batted up into the air. He had a pass "dropped" but really that was mostly his fault as the receiver had to contort his body to reach back for the ball thrown behind him. Also, on the completion that set up the Jets' second touchdown, the receiver was wide open and probably would have scored if Darnold hit him in stride, but the throw led him out of bounds.

He completed some first downs, but the majority of these - and his touchdown pass - were dump-offs that relied on the receiver's playmaking ability to succeed.

Darnold has shown some real signs that he's going to be good and commands the offensive huddle impressively for one so young, but who are you going to put out there to run the anchor leg against Usain Bolt - some fifth-grader who runs faster than everyone at his school ... or the world number two?

It's already over though. Clearly it's too late now for the Jets to start the year with TEDDY BRIDGEWATER. And, in fact, trading him might be a major factor in their offseason plans - especially if they intend to make some other trades to bolster their defense or offensive line.

Bridgewater seems like he might give the Jets a better chance to win than the rookie, but he hasn't had a chance to prove he can be as effective against starting defenses. And, while he looked sharp when he completed seven in a row on the Jets' scoring drive in the fourth quarter, let's not pretend he didn't make the worst pass of any Jets quarterback this preseason, when he dumped it behind a covered running back in the flat for what could and perhaps should have been a pick-six.

Would the Jets perhaps have a better chance to win with JOSH MCCOWN at the helm? Perhaps...but again we don't know, because we've seen virtually nothing of McCown this preseason and everyone in the organization, including McCown, seems to be on board with the plan to go with Darnold, even though he's yet to show much of an ability to throw the ball down the field with any kind of success.

Darnold is actually way ahead of where he should be and Jets fans should be thrilled with his development. Making him the opening day starter is probably the right move, even if it does cost the team a few games in the early part of the season. However, we should probably brace ourselves for some frustrating days ahead. Let's hope the team has better patience and perspective than the Jets fanbase usually does.

Running Backs - Powell on the prowl

The Jets running game still clearly needs some work, as BILAL POWELL had runs of nine and 10 yards on the first drive, but his other eight carries generated just five yards and ISAIAH CROWELL didn't fare much better with just six yards on four carries.

Powell looked pretty sharp when he had room to run, although he stumbled in the hole on one play and got beaten for a pressure in pass protection. As for Crowell, while he didn't have much success running the ball, he gained 15 on a short pass as he broke away from a tackler with an impressive stiff arm.

TRENTON CANNON made his return to action and was the team's best offensive weapon in the second half as he racked up 53 yards on nine touches. He contributed one first down on a 10-yard run and drew a face mask penalty for another one, as he showed good burst and elusiveness in space.

THOMAS RAWLS saw action briefly but didn't get any touches. GEORGE ATKINSON and new addition CHARCANDRICK WEST didn't see any action on offense and ELIJAH MCGUIRE is still injured, although we're almost into the early stages of that 3-6 weeks timetable given for his injury recovery.

At fullback, LAWRENCE THOMAS and DIMITRI FLOWERS weren't used much and failed to impress. The team used tight ends in the backfield on a few occasions, which doesn't bode well for their roster chances.

Wide Receivers - To have Q back again

With QUINCY ENUNWA and TERRELLE PRYOR back, the Jets receiving corps was mostly intact, although JERMAINE KEARSE was reportedly held out due to an abdominal injury.

Each made some good contributions as Enunwa had two first down catches and drew a penalty flag and Pryor did well to get into the end zone after Darnold hit him on a crossing route underneath. Enunwa also had an outstanding block on Powell's touchdown run.

ROBBY ANDERSON may have dropped his first target, although as already noted that was a tough play on a ball thrown behind him. Anderson did bounce back with a nice low catch for a first down later on but they seem to be saving his potential as a downfield threat for the regular season.

Outside the top four, the main candidates for a role seem to be TRE MCBRIDE III and CHARLES JOHNSON. Johnson ran a nice out-breaking route for a 16-yard catch in the red zone, but also had a fourth down drop as he reacted late to the ball. While McBride's only target saw him unable to make a diving catch on a wide throw to the pylon, he did make an excellent downfield block on one play.

The likes of CHAD HANSEN, CHARONE PEAKE and ARDARIUS STEWART still hold out some hope for a roster spot, but Stewart was the only one to get any looks on offense as he had a nice first down catch and three other short receptions.

ANDRE ROBERTS' roster chances as the return man are looking good too and if he shows enough as a receiver, then perhaps the Jets will opt just to carry five. He had a big play as he got open down the field to catch a Bridgewater pass, but failed to get out of bounds on the final play.

LUCKY WHITEHEAD did not play, further boosting Roberts' chances of a roster spot.

Tight Ends - Saucy Leggett

Perhaps tipping their hand as to the current state of the depth chart, the Jets opened up in a three-tight end set with ERIC TOMLINSON, NEAL STERLING and a debuting CHRIS HERNDON on the field.

While the tight ends had been making hay during training camp, the five of them combined to catch just one pass in last night's game, as Sterling picked up 13 on a nice catch and run.

CLIVE WALFORD saw the ball go high off his hands on his only target, while JORDAN LEGGETT slipped going down the seam and Herndon was also unsuccessfully targeted once. Sterling also had a chance for a second reception, but juggled the ball near the sideline and was ruled out of bounds. He did draw a holding penalty though.

ERIC TOMLINSON has always been viewed as likely to make the team but he had a terrible game and his preseason as a whole has been really bad. Could his spot be in jeopardy after he had two false starts and a special teams penalty? Even his blocking wasn't very good as his run blocking was largely ineffective and he got blown up on this play in pass protection:


The other tight ends didn't contribute much as blockers either though. Walford had a face mask penalty and Herndon let his man shed his block to stop a few runs.

Offensive Linemen - Brent out of shape

With the offensive line almost intact, the signs were good, especially on the first drive. As anticipated fill-in left tackle BRENT QVALE would ultimately be exposed as the weak link, but he actually had key blocks on Powell's nine yard run to open the drive and his 10-yard touchdown run to finish it.

That first play was the best the Jets have looked running the outside zone stretch since preseason began, which is crucial because it's expected to be a major staple in their offense.


Note Qvale's contribution on this play, as he manages to leverage his man back to the inside to seal him off. Also, Tomlinson - despite his overall bad game - did well on this play, peeling off his first block to kick out a linebacker. Herndon also manages to control a run blitzing safety from the fullback position.

Qvale also pulled to the outside to make a key block on Powell's touchdown run but his overall performance was disappointing once again as he got beaten for a sack, twice allowed his man to get off his block to stuff a run and also got called for holding.

At guard, JAMES CARPENTER was solid in pass protection but not very effective in the running game despite one good second level block. On one pass play, he successfully repelled a spin move, creating a lane for Darnold to step up and run for a first down.

The returning BRIAN WINTERS also held up in pass protection although a couple of bull rushes moved him off his spot. He was more consistent than Carpenter in the running game.

At center, SPENCER LONG had his hands full with Damon Harrison getting the better of him a number of times. He allowed a quarterback hit as a defensive tackle shot through the A-gap. That was the first pressure he's surrendered in preseason though.

The other starter, BRANDON SHELL, didn't have much success in the running game either and also allowed his man to get upfield on him for a quarterback hit. Generally speaking, there wasn't much pressure against the first unit and the line seems to be coming together, albeit very slowly.

Once again, the third unit didn't get any reps, but the Jets operated with a second unit of JONOTTHAN HARRISON at center, DAKOTA DOZIER at left guard, TRAVIS SWANSON at right guard, BEN BRADEN at right tackle and ANTONIO GARCIA on the left. There was no mixing and matching this week.

Harrison had a pretty good game with no real mistakes and some good blocking at the second level. He seems locked in as the number two center.

Dozier didn't give up any pressure and had mixed results in the running game but was called for an illegal hands to the face penalty on one play.

Braden was didn't have much impact in the running game but gave up a sack as he and Swanson failed to adequately pick up a stunt. Swanson drove his man off the line well on one running play though.

Finally, Garcia allowed his man to get off his block on a missed tackle but again didn't surrender any pressure. Ultimately, the Jets were able to mitigate pressure with quick passing and extra blockers, but there was always a sense they were overmatched on any longer-developing plays.

Third stringers GINO GRADKOWSKI, DAKODA SHEPLEY, DARIUS JAMES and ALEX BALDUCCI still haven't played yet. Ordinarily you'd expect them to take the bulk of the reps in the final preseason game, but will the Jets be prepared to have these players protecting one of their valuable assets at quarterback?

Don't go away, because we'll have our special teams review for you later this afternoon!