In a game that featured 20 punts and 10 points, you'd perhaps except not to see too many positives from the offensive side of the ball. It's already pretty evident that the Jets are going to run a dink and dunk, pop-gun offense in 2017 and will likely lack the firepower to compete with some of the league's offensive heavy hitters.
However, in terms of making the most of what you've got, executing a gameplan and doing just enough to get the job done, this was an impressive first outing for new offensive coordinator John Morton and his system.
Quarterbacks - Christian Rocks!
Josh McCown couldn't have had a more efficient start, driving the Jets downfield for a touchdown on their opening series and then taking the rest of the night off. He threw four passes, with the only incompletion on a drop in the flat.
His deep throw to Robby Anderson was perfect and this is simply something McCown does better than Ryan Fitzpatrick. For all his overall weaknesses, McCown should upgrade the Jets' downfield passing game as long as he is healthy, even over the 2015 team:
Of course, the strength of that 2015 team and its main difference from 2016 was its red zone efficiency. There was a bit of a "here we go again" again vibe after the Jets started off on 1st-and-goal at the one and then threw an incompletion and lost yardage on a run, but McCown threw an accurate pass on a nicely designed route combo that saw Jalin Marshall stretch the defense horizontally to create a lane for McCown to thrown an accurate dart to Charone Peake:
Who cares about McCown though? We're here to see Christian Hackenberg and the youngster didn't disappoint. Hackenberg completed 18 of 25 passes and, other than a pass that was batted up at the line, managed to avoid any bad mistakes.
On that particular throw, it looked at first glance like he was forcing a dangerous throw into double coverage anyway. However, if you freeze the tape at the right moment you can clearly see that he read the defender getting open and would have been able to zip the throw in there for a first down to extend the drive:
Where he failed on that play was not sensing or seeing the defensive lineman getting a hand up in the passing lane in his peripheral vision.
Hackenberg was credited with two fumbles officially, but I'm not sure either was his fault as Romar Morris did take his hand-off cleanly and Jonnotthan Harrison delivered the ball clearly before he was ready on a snap. That may have been because he didn't relay the information about when he wanted the ball clearly enough beforehand, though:
Either way, there's a couple of learning experiences from Hackenberg, but otherwise he executed what they wanted to do well. Yes, his yards per attempt average was really low, but that's a function of the dink and dunk style they are going to base their offense around this year and he didn't get a whole lot of help in terms of yards per catch or from his running game.
The one other thing he probably needs to work on is his pocket presence as he escaped the pocket on a few occasions where he was probably safe to hang in there a bit longer. That's okay, though, as it perhaps is easier to overcome than being too hesitant and taking sacks or throwing late. For what it's worth, he did hang in there nicely on a few plays.
The passing game was kept pretty simple for him with plenty of quick passes whenever he saw man coverage and immediately checking down or taking off when his first option wasn't open. Yes, it was a tad impotent, but he basically executed the gameplan the way they wanted to and while it might underline how he isn't ready to start yet, that's at least a good sign for his potential to step in off the bench and keep the Jets in games.
In terms of what he did well, it was a bunch of short passes, but his ball placement and timing was very good. Considering some of the struggles we've seen in the past from other young Jets quarterbacks, this was an encouraging start, but he still has a lot to work on.
Finally, let's touch on Bryce Petty, who didn't get much of a chance to air it out with the Jets nursing the four point lead the whole time. It wasn't the most auspicious display from someone you'd expect to feel comfortable having faced "live ammunition" for the first time last season. Petty made two nice throws, one of which was dropped, and misfired on three.
His worst mistake was recklessly trying to dive for a first down and taking a big hit in the process. However, you can understand that mindset because he has clearly fallen behind Hackenberg and can't afford to lose the opportunity to get as many reps as possible.
One final stat: 17 different players were targeted and 15 different players caught a pass. If that sounds like a lot, it is. Last year in preseason 10 players per game caught passes on average and 13 was the highest number of players targeted in any one game.
Running Backs - Romar wasn't built in a day
The running game for the Jets was pretty much toothless all day, which is perhaps not that surprising considering how the short passing game was bringing defenders up closer to the line of scrimmage. If you take out a Petty 10-yard scramble on 3rd-and-13, they averaged just 1.5 yards per carry.
None of the backs got anything done on the stat sheet, but Elijah McGuire did look sharp on a couple of first down runs that were negated by holds. In each case he might have broken the run anyway and it would have made the yards per carry average a bit more palatable if those hadn't been struck off.
McGuire just about did enough to pick up the blitz on McCown's touchdown pass, but there was one play where he had one man to beat on the edge and got taken down in the open field. Still, he showed some flashes in his first NFL game and could contribute as a change of pace for a running game that will surely be better once Bilal Powell and Matt Forté are in the line-up.
It was a good opportunity for Morris to get some serious playing time, but unfortunately he couldn't get anything going in the running game, then compounded his struggles by fumbling a hand-off and giving up a pressure on a blitz pick-up. He fought for some extra yards on one run, and made a nice move to almost pick up the first down on a dump-off pass, but Morris needs more chances to show what he can do.
Pass protection was also a major issue for the backs at the start of the second half. Both Jordan Todman and fullback Algie Brown whiffed on their blocks with Todman's man creating immediate pressure and Brown's man cleaning up with the first sack of the day. Todman also struggled to get anything going in the running game with his best effort seeing him battling for extra yards only to be ruled down beforehand anyway.
The fullbacks also struggled. The Jets seem intent on making the fullback "a thing" this year but none of the candidates helped themselves much as Julian Howsare dropped a potential touchdown in the flat, Anthony Firkser dropped a potential first down and Brown had a couple of lead blocks where his man bounced off him to get to the ball carrier. Firkser did pick up a nice first down on a catch and run after a dump-off to the flat, but hasn't shown anything as a blocker yet.
Pass catchers - A Peake into the future
Anderson shone in limited action, catching three passes on a deep ball and a couple of catches outside where he was able to fall forwards for a couple of extra yards. It's a good start for him as he takes on the "number one by default" role bestowed upon him and nice to see some confidence-building production.
Behind Anderson, it's perhaps disconcerting that the other starter was Jalin Marshall, who will miss the first month through suspension. On the bright side, Marshall looked good on an early first down catch from Hackenberg. However, he would later drop one on the outside and his blocking was suspect all day with a holding penalty to negate a run and two instances of his man getting off his block to get in on a tackle.
Interestingly, they motioned him into an H-back position a few times, like the Jets used to do with Quincy Enunwa in Gailey's scheme. I'm not sure his blocking is reliable enough to put him in that role.
Peake is probably the current "other starter" and he stepped up nicely with his touchdown reception, although that was his only target. Peake didn't have a touchdown catch in regular season action last year, so it's good to see him produce in the red zone.
Also receiving early reps and delivering on them was Chris Harper. So often we hear hype about players having a good camp only for them to disappear in preseason, so it's good to see Harper deliver on some of that promise. He made a nice first down catch at the sticks and ran an excellent slant route to pick up another first down:
The only other receivers to make first half contributions were rookie ArDarius Stewart and return candidate Frankie Hammond. Stewart had a bad missed block early, but then made a better one on a short yardage play and showed off a nasty stiff arm on his only catch in the second half. Hammond caught one short pass but was also flagged for offensive pass interference for blocking too early on a receiver screen
Interestingly, Lucky Whitehead, the other return candidate, didn't play at all on offense, perhaps suggesting Hammond is ahead there.
In the second half, Myles White, Chad Hansen and Marquess Wilson each had a nice first down catch on the outside, with Wilson's in particular being a nice snag. White would then hurt his chances with a bad drop having got a step on his man down the seam.
Deshon Foxx was the other receiver to get reps. He wasn't targeted and missed one block.
Tight Ends - Seferian, so good
On the face of it, Austin Seferian-Jenkins didn't really deliver on his training camp hype, with just a short catch to show for his efforts. However, he was arguably the outstanding first half performer with some unexpectedly proficient blocking.
Seferian-Jenkins set the edge well on three plays, drove his man downhill on another and had a good kick-out block on a short yardage play. He looks strong and, perhaps more importantly, is definitely putting in a good effort:
Of course, Seferian-Jenkins is another player who will be missing for the first few weeks due to suspension. Eric Tomlinson looks set to be the blocking tight end and might even end up being the fullback by default. If Seferian-Jenkins can keep that level of blocking up, then that gives the Jets more flexibility. Tomlinson made one solid kick-out block in the running game, but also got beaten for a half-sack that was negated by a penalty.
Jordan Leggett only caught one pass and it was a Chris Baker special with the immediate dump to the flat, turned upfield for eight yards. That's how Baker generated the majority of his production as a Jet and it's possible Leggett could generate similar levels of production, even as a rookie, by throwing those easy routes to him a few times a game.
There's an interesting battle at the other tight end spot because there's a chance whoever wins it will be on the roster until Seferian-Jenkins is activated in week three. Jason Vander Laan made a nice first down catch, but still - unsurprisingly for a converted quarterback - clearly has some room for improvement as a blocker, whiffing badly on one attempt. Chris Gragg is behind him for now and didn't help his cause with a false start. His blocking was much better, but whoever takes this role probably comes down to pass catching and Vander Laan seems to have the early edge there.
(Hat tip to boozer for the headline pun).
Offensive Linemen - Life's a Beach
This is a difficult game to review for the offensive line. In terms of pass protection, there really isn't that much to analyze because the Jets threw so many "now" passes and moved the pocket or left extra blockers in to mitigate the threat. Obviously, the running game wasn't too successful either, as the Jets had a really vanilla running game, basically just using inside zone and power man with one guard pulling.
In terms of the starters, Wesley Johnson's performance stood out because of a couple of worrying plays. He was on roller-skates in pass protection on one play and beaten badly into the backfield on the play with the fumbled hand-off, perhaps contributing to that. He otherwise held up okay, especially after re-entering with the back-ups, but will have to be more consistent to prove he's not going to be a big downgrade from Nick Mangold.
The guards - James Carpenter and Brian Winters - are the true anchors of that line now and Carpenter asserted himself early on a pulling block to open a running lane. Unfortunately, the play was called back due to a Brent Qvale hold. As for Winters, he had one good driving run block but let his man get off his block to stuff a run for a loss. He was also bull rushed back into the quarterback on one play. Having said that, he eventually re-anchored himself and drove his man back 10 yards on the same play.
Qvale got the start at right tackle and probably didn't need to hold on that play as he initially seemed to control his block well. In pass protection he was beaten outside, flushing the quarterback from the pocket and lost leverage leading to a pressure.
Brandon Shell is on his tail for that position and held up quite well, albeit against back-ups. You have to wonder if they flip them next week. Shell didn't allow any pressure and had one good driving run block but missed a block at the second level.
At left tackle, Kelvin Beachum looked good setting the edge on a short yardage conversion, but also got beaten for a half-sack that was negated by a penalty and was rocked back off his spot by an outside bull rush, leading to pressure. Ben Ijalana seems like an outside bet for the role at this stage. He was beaten outside for a pressure and stood up once in the running game.
Harrison, Dakota Dozier and Craig Watts rounded out the second unit, although Dozier also got some reps at center and Watts also played with the third unit. Aside from the bad snap, Harrison allowed penetration on one play and whiffed at the second level on another. Dozier had mixed results in the running game but help up quite well overall. Watts had some issues though, with a hold, a few missed run blocks and a pressure given up on a bull rush. He bounced back with a couple of good run blocks in the second half though, throwing his man to the ground on one.
On the third unit, Ben Braden saw reps both at right tackle and right guard. He made a good block at the point of attack on an inside zone run and drove his man upfield on another running play. He did a good job of picking up a stunt on one play but was perhaps partly to blame on another stunt that led to a sack.
Alex Balducci saw action at center and he too might have been able prevent that stunt. He made one good run block at the point of attack but was stood up at the line once.
Jeff Adams got some work at both tackle positions. He didn't allow any pressure although he didn't make any impact blocks either.
Finally, Chris Bordelon and Javarius Leamon played just nine snaps each. Bordelon was a left tackle in college but he was used at right guard in this game, missing a block on a zone play but otherwise holding his own. Leamon failed to sustain his run block on a running play that was bottled up.
Check back later this morning for the defensive review!