BGA is back…and this time it’s preseasonal (again)!
Coming up, part one of your breakdown of last night’s win over the Bengals with detailed analysis of the offensive performance.
Join me after the jump as I attempt to cover every angle.
This week, we're splitting the BGA into two. We'll cover the offense here and defense and special teams in part two later today. Let's get going...
This was an interesting test for the first-string offense with Chris Ivory, Jeff Cumberland and Eric Decker all ruled out before kickoff. Geno Smith fared pretty well overall, although he did do most of his damage after the Bengals had removed most of their starters from the game. Still, the offense wasn't completely impotent against the starters - Smith completed five passes for 54 yards and the Jets rushed nine times for 37 yards in just over a quarter. In large part due to penalties, the Jets only scored three points against the starters but Smith regrouped and led two touchdown drives to make it a one-point game at the half.
Smith benefited from some good pass protection and did a fine job of surveying the field and confidently hitting on some downfield passes. As we've come to expect, he also made some good plays with his legs, including a short touchdown run after a nice fake. Overall, he completed 10-of-13 passes for 98 yards.
The one black mark was his interception, which came on a play where he released the ball as receiver David Nelson was making his break back to the ball and it seemed to be on Nelson quicker than he expected. You'll recall that this was a throw Smith seemed to be constantly late on last year before developing some good timing with Nelson. The fact Nelson didn't react to the ball was obviously a timing issue and I couldn't say who was at fault there. At least it wasn't a bad read by Smith.
Backup Michael Vick accounted for 70 yards and a touchdown through the air, but actually most of that yardage came after the catch as he got 26 yards on a screen to Daryl Richardson and 17 and a touchdown on another screen to Clyde Gates. The other three completions were all short dump-offs and he also had an 18 yard gain on a screen pass negated by a hold.
Once again Vick made a first down on a scramble and the touchdown drive essentially provided the Jets with the winning score. He did miss on a deep ball with his pass down the sideline to Jacoby Ford being slightly off-line and caught out of bounds.
Tajh Boyd saw reps this week with the third unit and continued the apparent struggles he's been dealing with in practice. His only completion was a low catch by Michael Campbell a yard short of the marker on 3rd and seven. Of his four incompletions, one was a deep ball that was broken up, but three were passes he could have hit on - one was too low and the others, including what should have been an easy dump-off to Chris Pantale, were too high. Boyd looked nervous. Clearly these are passes he is capable of making from his college film.
Matt Simms was rested this week, but nothing Boyd did will have loosened his grip on the third QB role ... if such a role exists.
Offensive Line - Starters
The offensive line put up some terrific numbers - no sacks and 169 yards rushing at five yards a pop - although that was partly mitigated by them combining for 90 yards in penalties. That's not including another 15 yards which was not assessed because there was already a penalty on the same play. As Bassett wrote last night, this amount of penalty yardage is a major concern and it's actually a credit to the offensive execution that they still put enought points on the board to win. Sure, some of the penalties may have been bad calls, unnecessary holds that didn't affect the outcome of the play or roughness penalties where cooler heads might have prevailed in a more meaningful game. However, the Jets need to ensure they play with much better discipline once the season gets underway.
If they do play with better discipline the signs are looking good for the offensive line this year. Pass protection was excellent with just a couple of individual breakdowns and plenty of plays where the quarterback had plenty of time to survey the scene. As for the running game, they were good throughout, but really picked things up in the second quarter. This coincided with Brian Winters getting into the game at left guard and he did have several key blocks on the two touchdown drives. Yes, it did also coincide with the Bengals taking their starters out of the game, but there was still an immediate cohesiveness that seemed apparent with the projected starters together for the first time.
It was surprising to hear that Aboushi would be getting the start, after Winters had been working mostly with the first unit recently and did perform well in game one. However, for Aboushi it was important to get him some quality reps at guard because he had to fill in mostly at tackle last week due to a couple of injuries at the back end of the roster.
Aboushi started off at left guard, then stayed at left guard while Winters got some reps at right guard. Finally, Winters got to run with the first unit at left guard and then later in the game, they both worked with the second unit on the right side with Winters at guard and Aboushi at tackle. As noted, the running game really picked up once Winters got in the game, but that's not to say that it was bad with Aboushi in and going up against starters. Although Geno Atkins was out, Brandon Thompson is a good young player against the run and Atkins' main strength is as a pass rusher anyway, so that was still a formidable test against a good front seven.
While operating at guard, Aboushi fared quite well. He didn't surrender any pressure and although he let his man get off his block to stuff one run, he also made a good interior kick-out block on another run. When he moved to tackle in the second half it was a different story. He had a couple of good run blocks, but also got beaten a couple of times for a pressure and once on a running play that was stuffed in the backfield. He also got called for a blatant, but totally unnecessary hold, negating an 18-yard pass play. Right now, you'd have to feel more confident with him if called upon to fill in at guard than at tackle, so perhaps they need another backup tackle on the roster. Three of the four negative plays that I mentioned came on consecutive plays, but he was more settled other than that.
Winters gave up 50 yards in penalties, ruining what was an otherwise pretty encouraging performance. Other than the penalties, the only real negative was one play where he allowed a pass rusher to come free off his left shoulder and perhaps should have passed off the man he was blocking sooner to pick that up. As noted, he had some good run blocks, including a pulling reach block to seal his man back to the inside, one other pulling block and a good driving seal block on the first touchdown. He also got out in front of a screen to make a good block.
What's most encouraging about the left guard play is that - while there are obviously ups and downs with both contenders - D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold are looking good. Neither gave up any pressure and both made positive contributions in the running game with the Jets seeing plenty of success running wide left with Ferguson setting the edge. Mangold did a good job on Bilal Powell's touchdown and drove his man out of the play on Powell's long run. These two were also penalty free.
The right side of the line looks to be developing some good chemistry. Giacomini didn't allow any pressure this week after some wobbles in his first game and Colon just got beaten once on the inside leading to pressure and a holding call. Giacomini also had a bad penalty for an illegal block and each of them were flagged for fighting after Smith's interception. In the running game, other than one play where Giacomini was beaten inside for a run stuff, they both did solid work. Giacomini made some good blocks at the second level, which seems to be somewhere he's an upgrade over Austin Howard. That included on Powell's long run where Colon drove his guy laterally out of the play and Giacomini blocked a safety to the outside at the second level to open the running lane. Colon also made a good pulling block to spring a nice run off the left side.
Offensive Line - Backups
One innocuous play early in the second half provided a perfect microcosm of the game as a whole. Dakota Dozier - the second string left guard - immediately got rocked back and allowed his man to get upfield leverage. However, he kept his hands on him, moved his feet and managed to regain enough leverage to reanchor himself in front of Vick and enable Vick to dump the ball off for a short gain. While Dozier was dominated initially on that play and perhaps that's the primary cause for concern, he battled back into it and got the job done, from which we can take some positives. You can pretty much say the same thing for the Jets as a team after yesterday's game.
Other than that play, Dozier only had a couple of negatives and did do a good job of getting out in front of Clyde Gates on the screen pass for the go-ahead touchdown. I think he's a keeper, although I don't know if he'll see action this season.
Second unit left tackle Ben Ijalana settled down last week after a rocky start and continued that this week. He did get beaten outside for a pressure once and allowed his man to hit Michael Vick (although that was after he was initially blocked and Vick held the ball for a few seconds before rolling out), otherwise holding up in pass protection. Ijalana flashed terrific athleticism in getting out in front of the screen passes from Vick to Richardson and Gates which accounted for 43 yards and a touchdown.
Backup center Dalton Freeman impressed me this week. He held up well in pass protection and had a couple of good blocks to drive his man away from the play in the running game. He's definitely ahead of Caleb Schlauderaff, who had to wait to get into the game at guard this week with Winters getting extra second unit reps. Schlauderaff did have a couple of good run blocks though.
Schlauderaff entered with débutante Brent Qvale on the right side when Winters and Aboushi finally went to the bench. Qvale later moved to left tackle, giving Ijalana some rest and Bruce Campbell a chance for some reps at right tackle. Marcus Zusevics remains out while Patrick Ford and Will Campbell saw some late action at guard.
Chris Johnson had a nice output with 63 yards on 10 carries, as the Jets had good success running him around left end and also started to mix in the sprint draw - a Marty Mornhinweg staple which was seldom-used last season. It seemed like Johnson's running was a little labored at first, but he apparently shook the cobwebs loose eventually. To put up those numbers in one half is an encouraging sign for what he'll be able to do once he's playing four quarters.
For the past three years, Jets fans seem to have spent the offseason writing off Powell and each time Powell has done nothing but make positive contributions. Powell contributed 54 yards and a touchdown on six touches, breaking several tackles in the process. While he doesn't have breakaway speed, he looked sharp and did a great job filling in for the injured Chris Ivory. The Jets are lucky to have Powell, who will likely be called upon to do that a time or two during the regular season too.
While I don't think he can oust Powell, Richarson did a good job of making a case for the team keeping four halfbacks on the roster showing great burst on his 26-yard catch and run. He also rushed for 23 yards on seven carries and had a good blitz pick-up.
Alex Green had a rough time of it, gaining just seven yards on six carries. None of this was really his fault, but he has yet to establish himself on offense and seems to be falling behind Richardson. He might be a superior special teamer, but I don't know that this will be enough to earn him a roster spot.
For the fullbacks, Tommy Bohanon had a nine yard catch but got trucked on a linebacker blitz and probably should have been flagged for a takedown on that play. Chad Young again had one outstanding block where he met a linebacker in the hole and kicked them outside to create a lane. He couldn't come up with a low Boyd pass though.
None of the Jets receivers put up particularly good numbers, with the Jets only completing 16 passes, including just six of 14 in the second half. As noted, Nelson may have been at fault on the interception. He had two short catches. The only other wideout with two catches was Greg Salas who led the Jets with 31 yards, 20 of which came on a nice throw down the seam by Smith.
Jeremy Kerley - not targeted last week - picked up 21 on a quick slant and also had a good downfield block on Powell's long run. Stephen Hill's blocking was also good on a couple of occasions and he made a nice leaping grab on third down. However, he looked to have secured another reception over the middle, only to have the ball jarred loose by a combination of the safety and linebacker. Gates scored the touchdown but failed to come up with a third down catch with the Jets backed up near their goal line. He felt he was interfered with on that one.
Ford and Saalim Hakim were each targeted on an unsuccessful deep ball. Michael Campbell had one catch but fell to the ground just shy of the marker and had another high pass go off his hands.
Finally, Quincy Enunwa was not targeted but made a good block from the slot to help spring Gates for his touchdown.
At tight end, with Cumberland out, Jace Amaro had three catches for 42 yards, although one was negated by a penalty. Still he made a nice downfield catch and looks good running with the ball. It was good to see him catch the ball each time he was targeted too. He had a couple of run blocking plays where he could have done a bit better, but one time in pass protection he was blocking a defensive end one on one and although he almost got beaten outside he managed to stay on his man and hold up well. It did look like he was at fault on an early 12 men on the field penalty though.
Other than from Amaro, the Jets didn't get much from their tight ends. Zach Sudfeld was targeted twice but both were inaccurate throws that fell incomplete and Pantale had Boyd miss him in the flat. Pantale also missed one block.