BGA is back…and this time it’s preseasonal (again)!
Coming up, part one your breakdown of last night’s 13-10 win over the Colts with detailed analysis of the quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends and receivers.
Join me after the jump as I attempt to cover every angle. It's good to be back!
As we did last year, we're splitting this week's BGA into four. That's because the first BGA of preseason is typically the longest of the year because it's the first look we get at certain players and any new schemes. First of all, we look at the skill positions. And, yes, I know "Skill Positions" is often frowned upon as a description for QBs, RBs, TEs and WRs, but I don't like "Ball Handlers" because it makes it sound like I'm analyzing a bunch of point guards. Let's get to the good stuff...
Our first look at the supposedly new-and-improved Geno Smith didn't really tell us that much about how he's going to fare when the missiles start flying for real. Four routine completions and two plays where he basically got rid of the ball to avoid being hit was all we saw from him. He did have one other completion on a play that was blown dead but nobody heard the whistle. That might even have been his best throw of the night, although at the same time it was the only throw where he looked like he locked onto his first target rather than going through progressions.
In his first game as a Jet, Michael Vick just had three short completions, but did show some wheels on a 15-yard scramble. While it took a couple of penalties and a fourth-down conversion in a situation where they would have settled for a field goal in a regular season game, he seemed in control in leading an 80-yard drive for the Jets' only touchdown.
On two of his three incompletions, the ball was off the intended receiver's hands. One of these was an inaccurate throw to Chris Ivory in the flat, although I'm not sure I'd blame Vick because Ivory got re-routed on his way out there and flattened out his route so he wasn't ideally positioned for Vick to be able to drop the ball in front of him.
Let's take a look at one play, the third down scramble where Vick came up short of a first down (although he converted with a pass to Tommy Bohanon in the flat on the next play.)
Here you can see the moment at which the protection breaks down and Vick makes the decision to take off. Nobody is open. The Vick of old might have been able to get to the marker or even score on this play, but at 34-years old Vick has surely lost a step, even though he is still extremely fast, especially for a quarterback.
One Vick commits the defender currently on the three yard line in the above image, Jeff Cumberland is going to be open. Could Vick has slammed on the brakes here and lofted the ball to him for an easy touchdown? Or, better still rolled out wider to the left and then thrown it to him on the run, which would have meant it was less likely he got nailed from behind by Bjorn Werner?
It's too late by this stage, but at this image shows that likely would have worked. It seems unfair to criticize a 34-year old for not making a split-decision read like this at full speed, but it was always unlikely he was going to make it with his legs, so rather than taking what he could, perhaps the higher percentage play here was to draw the defense and look for that throw. Then you could just pull the ball back in and eat it if the defender reacted so that the receiver wasn't open after all. While in the context of this game he got close enough that they opted to go for it and were successful, in a regular season game, those five yards wouldn't have made any difference to what presumably would have been a chip-shot field goal. If anything, what I'm saying here is that Vick needs to understand his own limitations but use the threat of running to open up other options.
As for Cumberland, he showed good instincts here to leak to the open spot, but maybe if he sensed Vick was going to take off, he could have instead thrown a block and that would have given Vick a chance to make it. It's easy in hindsight, but hopefully we will see the players get used to each other as the preseason progresses.
Matt Simms didn't get any reps in last year's preseason opener, which is a good sign of how far he's come. He played a game devoid of any major mistakes, avoided pressure well, completed a high percentage of his (albeit mostly short) passes and hit a couple of open receivers with good throws. He made one inaccurate throw under pressure and had a bad option read on what looked like a busted play, but otherwise did just enough to get the Jets into range for the game-winning kick. With Tajh Boyd not getting into the game, it seems like Simms is in pole position for the third quarterback job. That's if such a job exists, of course.
Overall, the offense didn't look as high-octane and some of the preseason hype might have led you to believe it would, but then again, the Jets really didn't even look to go downfield much. Maybe we'll see them at least try to go up the gears next week.
At least nobody threw a pick-six to a defensive lineman. Yet.
The running game was not very productive at all last night. Alex Green had the longest run of the day (20 yards) on a misdirection pitch where he was untouched down the left side. Other than that, Green had just nine yards on six carries. Chris Johnson got into the end zone, but only gained one yard on three carries other than that. Chris Ivory barely fared much better, with just 17 yards on seven carries, making Daryl Richardson's 3.0 yards per carry average look almost Walter Payton-esque by comparison - and Richardson committed the ultimate crime of fumbling the ball as he battled for extra yardage, even though he recovered it himself.
It's not uncommon for the Jets' running game to not do much in preseason though. They had some different looks, but mostly just ran straight up the middle, especially on first down. With the starting line in there, they ran seven times on first down, with one of those being Smith's 10-yard keeper. Of the six runs by running backs on first down, the only one that didn't go between the tackles was the one where Ivory bounced it outside and drew a facemask penalty. That one was of course originally designed to go inside too. Those six runs gained just 10 yards (not including the penalty yardage tacked onto the end of Ivory's run).
In the passing game, Johnson had a couple of catches including a nicely timed swing pass. However, he and Ivory each had one go off their hands. Green had one catch for no gain. Each of the fullbacks, Bohanon and Chad Young, had a first down conversion on a catch in the flat, although Young's - which set up the winning kick - was bobbled, Jumbo Elliott-style.
In terms of blitz pickups, there were some mixed results. Ivory had a good pickup and Green had a couple of good pickups, although he was late reacting on a third. Richardson struggled though, missing his block on a play where Simms ended up being sacked and then getting rocked back and called for holding.
The blocking from the fullbacks was actually pretty good. Bohanon had a couple of good lead blocks and Young did too, including an excellent one where he met his man in the hole and drove him out of the play. Young was also aggressive in throwing a chip on the edge, after which he was actually wide open, but not seen by Simms. He did get rocked back once in pass protection though and the runner did run into him and get stuffed at least once. I'm looking forward to seeing this battle develop, although I assume Young is a long-shot right now.
Bilal Powell and Michael Smith did not play and Ivory left early with a rib issue.
Stay tuned for part two, because in our review of the offensive line, there will be a look at one play that shows how while the running game isn't quite in sync yet, they might not be that far off.
It's not easy to get much of a read on the receivers when the Jets weren't throwing downfield much. It was good to see Smith connect with Eric Decker, whose route running looked sharp, a couple of times. However, I believe Decker was flagged for offensive pass interference due to a push-off on that play that had already been blown dead. He's a very physical route runner and that might be something to watch for now that the officials will be looking at contact between defensive backs and receivers more closely. Decker did have one play as a blocker where he let his man get off to make a play on Ivory that prevented a possible big gain.
David Nelson got plenty of early reps and made a good cut block on Johnson's touchdown run. He had one short catch but also missed a block and false started once.
Leading the Jets in receptions and looking sharp doing so was Jacoby Ford. He ran a nice route to get open outside for a first down and showed good hands to catch a high pass for one of his other two catches. He failed to get any separation when they looked for him deep though, as he was outmuscled by the defensive back.
Jeremy Kerley was not targeted and Greg Salas did not play due to a hip issue. Obviously Shaq Evans was out too. Stephen Hill was targeted just once and drew a holding penalty as the pass was off his hands. Quincy Enunwa and Saalim Hakim barely played and Jalen Saunders didn't see much action either, although he had a two yard gain on a 3rd and 42 dump-off.
Clyde Gates had a couple of catches, one for a first down, and some good downfield blocking but the longest completion of the day was a 22-yarder from Simms to Michael Campbell who ran a good route to get open on the outside, although he was a little hesitant once he caught the ball.
Finally, the tight ends combined for five catches. Jeff Cumberland caught a first down from Smith over the middle, Zach Sudfeld showed good hands on a high snag on one of his two short catches and rookie Jace Amaro had two nice plays, although he was targeted five times and the three he didn't catch were all possibly catchable, including one where it looked like he saw a hit coming out of the corner of his eye. The two plays he did make showed some promise though. He motioned inside from a wide position, then stopped at the sticks to make a solid third down conversion. That's hard to cover. The other saw him catch the ball in the flat and turn upfield for a nice 13-yard catch and run.
We'll talk about the tight ends fared in terms of their blocking in part two.
Part two will look at the offensive line, part three will cover the defensive front seven and part four will cover the secondary and special teams. We'll be posting these throughout the day.