The Jets once again opened up with a pretty vanilla gameplan and didn't have a particularly productive day as they were outgained by over 100 yards and averaged less than three yards per carry on the ground.
Extra reps for the back-ups were expected to bring some clarity to the quarterback position, but it may just have muddied the waters even further, as it becomes clearer and clearer that there's not much separating the three candidates.
Let's review those performances and the ones at each of the other positions in depth:
Rock Steady Teddy
Let's do what the Jets didn't and start with TEDDY BRIDGEWATER. Statistically, it was a good performance by Bridgewater, although there was one throw he'd like to have back when he got a bit overzealous and threw an interception down the field with his man tightly covered.
That pass came on his first throw since putting together the only touchdown drive of the game and he almost had another late on, only for the Jets to opt to run the ball three times from the five and then settling for a field goal.
Bridgewater's accuracy was good, as he completed 10-of-15 passes despite a few drops. Perhaps the most impressive attribute he showed off, though, was his ability to elude pressure by moving around in and out of the pocket. That should assuage any doubters who are still skeptical that he can have recovered well enough from his leg injury to play at this level.
He was the best quarterback yesterday, but you'd expect that as he played against second and third-stringers in the second half. Ultimately, his trade value probably went up last night, but so did the opportunity cost of not keeping him.
So Darn Good
SAM DARNOLD held up okay in his first ever start and showed an impressive ability to read the whole field and find his checkdown option. The downside is that he has yet to really show that he can find his primary option when that's available.
So, we're seeing excellent composure and good decision making from Darnold, but also a conservative approach, which may be because that's how he's been told to play or it may be because he doesn't want to make a mistake that could cost him the job. Either way, he needs to show that he can attack single coverage, otherwise he'll be far too easy to defend against in the short term.
With that said, the sensible, risk-free approach at least provides comfort that Darnold would hopefully be able to handle coming off the bench due to injury without single-handedly losing the game, which is more than can be said for some recent back-ups (and even starters). The next stage, perhaps in the Giants game, will be for the shackles to loosen and a more attacking approach to be taken.
Perhaps revealingly, the Jets going for it on 4th-and-1 forced Darnold into a gotta-have-it situation and he did not respond well, forcing the ball into traffic for a bad interception. Then again, it being fourth down may have affected his mindset in that situation, as he probably wouldn't have forced that throw on any other down.
McCown in my own tears
This gives the Jets an interesting dilemma with JOSH MCCOWN, who probably needs some preseason reps to prove he's a better option than Bridgewater and Darnold, but the Jets seem content to rely on the fact that he is who he is and let the other two juke it out to prove they're better.
It will be interesting to see what their approach to the next game will be. Remember, last year, Christian Hackenberg started and finished the Giants game after Petty had relieved him, played really well and then got hurt.
You are Rawls I need to get by
THOMAS RAWLS had a good chance to make an impression with a couple of players out injured but, as seems to have been the case at camp so far, he didn't make the most of this opportunity. He had a few good plays - showing some power on a nine-yard run and a short yardage conversion, picking up a blitz and catching a couple of short passes - but ultimately contributed just 22 yards on his 10 touches as well as having one drop.
BILAL POWELL didn't exactly light it up either, but he looked sharp as he accumulated 37 yards on eight touches and didn't seem to leave any yards on the field.
GEORGE ATKINSON flashed in the fourth quarter as he broke a tackle to race upfield for 30 yards on a dump-off and rushed for 31 yards on seven carries, including an 18-yard run over the left side.
However, he failed to get into the end zone on a couple of short yardage runs on the final drive, forcing the Jets to settle for a field goal that ultimately wasn't enough. Atkinson was lucky that the play had been blown dead when he lost the ball stretching for the goal line and then was cut down in the backfield by an unblocked defender on third down from the goal line.
I Cannon't turn you loose
With Isaiah Crowell still in concussion protocol, two rookies also missed out on the chance to make a good impression as TRENTON CANNON and fullback DIMITRI FLOWERS didn't play after being banged-up during the week.
With Flowers out, LAWRENCE THOMAS played the whole game at fullback, although the Jets didn't use him that much. His blocking was more consistent this week but he didn't make much of an impact.
Ain't no Tre
The Jets spread the ball around this week with 12 different players making at least one catch, but nobody targeted more than three times or catching more than two passes.
The player who helped himself the most was TRE MCBRIDE III. He's one of the surprises of this year's camp and he caught a couple of Darnold passes for first downs, one on a third-down slant and another as he came open underneath on a rub route.
Outside of the big four, McBride has arguably been the most impressive wideout so far this preseason. However, CHARLES JOHNSON is another candidate. He caught a couple of first down passes from his old teammate, Bridgewater. However, he was unable to get any separation on the play where Bridgewater was intercepted.
Until Q come back to me
With QUINCY ENUNWA still out but almost ready to come back and TERRELLE PRYOR healthy but being rested rather than facing a potentially thorny match-up with his former team, ROBBY ANDERSON and JERMAINE KEARSE got the start but each just made one short catch.
Anderson's four yard catch on 3rd-and-5 set up the fourth down on which Darnold was intercepted and led to some criticism of Anderson's route running on the play. While it's certainly true that he should have tried to make an effort to get deeper in his route so that he wouldn't be short of the marker when he caught the ball, he did get to the sticks so a perfectly timed pass could have led to a conversion.
Darnold's throw was a half-beat late and too far to the outside, causing Anderson to have to try to regain any upfield momentum after having reached back for the ball. Rather than being an inaccurate throw, though, this was probably exactly where Darnold meant to put it and another example of the rookie being overly cautious. He put the ball in a safe spot where only Anderson could make a play on it, but if he made the tight window throw a half-beat sooner, it could have kept the drive alive.
On the fourth down interception, watching the wide view shows that Darnold could have had a shot at hitting Anderson for a touchdown if he'd thrown a corner fade.
Once again, that's probably a symptom of a few things. First, Darnold has not played enough with Anderson yet to trust him to go and get it if he throws to a spot. Secondly, his mindset with it being fourth down was probably locked in on not throwing what might be a low percentage downfield pass.
Ultimately, Darnold perhaps would be more likely to take that risk on an earlier down. It would have been a tough throw to make but at least he could have thrown it to a safe spot where either Anderson goes up to get it or it ends up being a harmless incompletion.
In the second half, last year's rookies CHAD HANSEN and ARDARIUS STEWART didn't help themselves much once again, although Stewart did make a nice 17-yard catch and run on third down. He won't have impressed coaches with more bad body language after Bridgewater's interception though. It looked like he felt he was coming open on a crossing route and perhaps should have been targeted instead. As for Hansen, his only catch went for no gain and he had a case of alligator arms after getting a step down the seam.
The one former draft pick who did help himself was CHARONE PEAKE who made a nice leaping catch for the game's only touchdown and also had one other first down in the fourth quarter. He's been a bit of a forgotten man, so perhaps that will kick-start his campaign for a spot.
Other receivers seeing action were ANDRE ROBERTS and LUCKY WHITEHEAD but they didn't get any looks on offense.
Do right woman, do right (Trinna)man
Finally, rookie JONAH TRINNAMAN missed the game due to injury. He could be the sort of player that gets a chance to shine in the Bollinger Bowl
Walf in the light
Making the most of some injuries, CLIVE WALFORD was probably the pick of the tight ends this week. He had two first down catches, one on a catch-and-run to the outside and one on a third down dump-off short of the marker where he smartly fell forwards to make the line of gain. His blocking was okay, although his man did beat him for one run stuff.
It was good to see JORDAN LEGGETT out there getting a lot of reps with the first unit, but he wasn't targeted in the passing game and made a couple of minor mistakes as a blocker. Now he's got his feet wet, he needs to actually produce over the next two weeks.
ERIC TOMLINSON is a player who most people are assuming is safe due to his blocking prowess, but he had a bad play in the third quarter where his man beat him to blow up a run for a loss. He also had a drop on a diving attempt at a wide Bridgewater pass. His one catch saw him cut down for a short gain in the flat.
Chris Herndon's doing it from the shelf
Missing out on an opportunity this week because of injury were NEAL STERLING and CHRIS HERNDON, each of whom has been impressive when healthy. We still await Herndon's first action, as he's now been out for over a week with what Todd Bowles described as "some bruises".
Won't be Long
After an underwhelming first game, SPENCER LONG was more impressive this week. Although he had one high snap, he was stronger at the point of attack, driving his man off the line on one play and making a good combo block before peeling off to the second level on another. He also showed a good ability to re-anchor in pass protection.
The other two starters to see action were JAMES CARPENTER and BRANDON SHELL. There was some fear that Carpenter might struggle to handle the demands of a zone blocking scheme but he made a couple of good blocks on the move in this game. Shell had some good kick-out blocks but struggled at the point of attack.
BRENT QVALE and JONOTTHAN HARRISON were filling in for KELVIN BEACHUM and BRIAN WINTERS and it's probably good news that they were the two players most responsible for most of the pass protection issues with the first unit out there.
Qvale was driven back and beaten for a sack even though Carpenter came over to give him some double team help, while Harrison was also badly beaten for a sack. Harrison's run blocking wasn't too bad although he did make a couple of mistakes in the second half and also had a high snap where he seemed to snap the ball too early.
In addition to the sack, Qvale had a false start, was mostly ineffective in the running game and was beaten a couple more times in pass protection, including on the play where Darnold was pressured into throwing an interception on fourth down. Worryingly, he didn't fare much better against the run after moving to right tackle in the second half, although his pass protection improved.
On the whole though, while the numbers weren't great, there are signs the players are starting to get to grips with the nuances of Rick Dennison's scheme. This was probably the best-blocked play of the first half. Notice how the hole opens up with Long combining well with Carpenter to seal the nose tackle and then peeling off and Shell getting inside leverage so he can drive his man out of the hole. Harrison is then freed up to isolate on the linebacker at the second level:
Young, gifted and Dak
Once again, the Jets plan with their reserves was to mix and match while not really using any of the third stringers. The only four other players to see action were DAKOTA DOZIER, TRAVIS SWANSON, BEN BRADEN and ANTONIO GARCIA with Garcia being the only one who didn't play multiple positions.
Dozier had some issues in pass protection this week while at left tackle, as he was beaten around the edge twice - getting called for a hold on one of those - and also showed poor awareness on a stunt that led to a sack. He was better in pass protection once he moved to left guard and a good pulling block highlighted his work in the running game.
Braden was inconsistent in the running game but only allowed one pressure that flushed the quarterback from the pocket.
Swanson and Garcia, each of whom really struggled in the first game, fared a little better this time, although Swanson gave up another sack when a stunting end drove him back into the quarterback. Garcia flashed in the running game with a pulling block and a good job to seal the edge but he messed up the protection on the play where the Jets scored their touchdown, leading to a hit on Bridgewater.
Check back later this morning for the defensive review!