On Friday night the New York Jets were defeated 35-24 by the crosstown rival Giants in the annual "MetLife Bowl." While the Jets did not walk away with the "Snoopy Trophy" there were several positives to take away from the performance of the first string units as they dominated Big Blue in the first half of the game. Here are some of my observations from the game.
Geno continues to progress- New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (9/14 137 passing yards, 1 td) continues to improve as he displayed excellent command of the offense and poise in the pocket. Smith was quick with his reads and effectively spread the ball around the field to his playmakers. Geno is starting to use his legs more when plays break down and this will become a very effective weapon that will keep defenses honest. Note: As expected, Geno Smith has officially been named starter for week one of the regular season.
Dynamic one-two punch- For those that were questioning the signing of running back Chris Johnson, you better think again. CJ looked tremendous on Friday night with his explosive running style and shiftiness. Johnson remains a threat whenever he has the ball in his hands and is complimented perfectly by back Chris Ivory. Add in Bilal Powell and you have an excellent group of backs that can be used in variety of ways.
Amaro developing- With tight end Jeff Cumberland out due to injury Jace Amaro picked up his game with 4 catches and a touchdown. Jace appears to have improved with his blocking and looks more comfortable in the offense. Amaro has the size and ability to become a legitimate threat in Marty Mornhinweg's system.
Solid line play- The offensive line did an excellent job neutralizing the Giants front seven. The Jets ground game had several holes to run through while Geno Smith had time to throw the ball. It appears that Brian Winters has won the left guard spot with Oday Aboushi becoming a very valuable reserve player.
Questions remain at wr- The Jets will have some tough decisions to make at the wide receiver position. Stephen Hill remains an enigma while Greg Salas continues to make plays. Jacoby Ford has not shown much while Saalim Hakim has excelled on special teams as a gunner and has the ability to become a dynamic return man. Jalen Saunders is out indefinitely with an injury while Clyde Gates is having another quality preseason. For my money I am taking Salas and Hakim over Hill and Ford.
Coples emerges- The spotlight has been on outside linebacker Quinton Coples with many expecting a breakout year. Coples displayed some signs of development on Friday night as he was continuously applying pressure and was getting behind the line of scrimmage. The Jets need this type of effort from Quinton every Sunday.
Babin brings it- Jason Babin is clearly going to be a weapon in Rex Ryan's defense. Jason is an explosive, tenacious player that can generate pressure from both sides of the line. If Coples or Calvin Pace start to struggle Jason Babin could see significant reps in passing situations.
Walls comes up big- Darrin Walls entered his name into the starting mix as he played very well as the first string cornerback. Walls displayed good cover skills and should have came away with a pick six. It will be interesting to see what Rex does with Walls as he could be the Jets best cover guy with Milliner on the shelf with an injury.
Allen continues to learn- The Antonio Allen experiment at cornerback is starting to become a story as the young playmaker looks comfortable in coverage. Allen is a tremendous athlete and has not been overwhelmed while being thrown to the wolves. This situation reminds me of when Bill Parcells moved Marcus Coleman to starting cornerback and that ended up working out very well. Keep your fingers crossed with this one Jets fans. Note: Antonio Allen left the game with a concussion.
Wilson being Wilson- At this point Kyle Wilson's inconsistent play is expected. On one play Wilson has great coverage, on the next he is being dusted for a touchdown or being called for pass interference. Kyle's play is maddening and he will make the team primarily due to the team's lack of depth at the position.
Patterson out again- At this point Dimitri Patterson is an unknown for the Jets as he cannot get healthy enough to practice or play. Patterson was expected to be one of the starting defensive backs, but at this point he could be relegated to becoming a reserve player. For the sake of the Jets defense lets hope that Dimitri can get healthy and ready for week 1 against the Raiders.
Tough decisions to make- The New York Jets are going to have some tough decisions to make as they have to trim their roster down to 53 players by August 30th. There have been some surprises in camp like A.J. Edds and T.J. Barnes along with some disappointments: Stephen Hill, Jacoby Ford. Will John Idzik stick to his competition mantra and keep a player like Saalim Hakim over Jacoby Ford? Or how about keeping A.J. Edds over draft pick Jeremiah George? Would Idzik consider only keeping two quarterbacks on the roster in order to retain a young player? What if the Jets general manager decided to keep only three running backs in an effort to keep a player like Barnes? There are several difficult decisions to make throughout the roster. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out and I would not be surprised to see John Idzik try to add another veteran wide receiver or cornerback through free agency or a trade.