Here's some thoughts after watching the Jets 35-24 loss to the Giants last night in the Snoopy Bowl.
Good on you, Geno -- I really thought Geno did a good job showing mastery of his offense. There's so much improvement here compared to a year ago. Part of it is his knowledge of what is required, part of it is his anticipation of what he needs to do on a given play to make a smart and safe play and part of it is the increased talent of the supporting cast around him. But to see him have completed five passes to five different receivers at one point in the early going was a sign of good things for me. Geno knows that someone is going to be open and seems less locked in on targets and/or hesitant than he was a year ago. That's a good sign for a young quarterback.
Sagging Secondary -- I have no idea what is going on in the secondary, but so far it seems to be snake-bitten from an injury and order perspective. Between the injuries to the top guys like Dee Milliner (ankle) Calvin Pryor (concussion), Dimitri Patterson (pick a body part) and now Antonio Allen (head), the group can't seem to stay on the field together. Add in the season-ending injury to promising rookie Dexter McDougle and the group is much more flimsy than I had anticipated this season. Also, they seem to be all over the road on who they like at their backup corner spot and the Anotnio Allen Experiment seems to be a pretty strong indication of just how the Jets feel about their depth right now. While I can see the effort and attempt at execution from Johnny Patrick, Brandon Dixon's extended playing time confuses me. Is there hope? There is for me for two reasons. First, as the defensive line showed last night, the secondary is going to get a lot of help up front. Second, if the Jets can get Pryor and Milliner on the field at the same time, I think they will be able to cover a multitude of other sins. Pryor is already back and looking great. Dee Milliner looked good in his time against the Colts. Speaking of Milliner, I saw him enthusiastically encouraging his teammates from the sidelines, but I don't recall seeing Dimitri Patterson once during the game ... what gives? Expect the Jets to be busy when it comes to team transactions at cutdowns when it comes to their secondary.
Running Got Game -- Last night was probably the best approximation of what we could see from the Jets running game this season. Chris Johnson was streaking down the sidelines. Ivory earned some tough yards and even had an impressive catch and run. Bilal Powell looked like the perfect utility back. The Jets might not be the 2009 incarnation when it comes to how much they run the ball, but there is a confidence that this team can run the ball to take pressure off their quarterback, which will propel the offense forward. I don't think this offense will contend with the Saints for a spot as the league's best, but I do think that a lot of little things changing this season for this offense could push them much further forward than many national pundits expect.
Get Nasty -- There's a bad-boy streak that this team has, specifically on offense that I can't remember seeing from a Jets offense in some time. There is a concern that maybe it is false bravado, but I don't see it that way. I think the influx of talent has engendered a certain grit to this group. I love the nastiness that the group seems to play with and I think it will serve the team well as they enter the regular season with aggression instead of caution.
Top of the Hill? -- Where does this team go with Stephen Hill? It's hard to say, but other than some chippiness after the play I've not seen much from him this preseason, he's not stood out to me. Some have questioned whether his roster spot might be in jeopardy during cutdowns. I understand the argument, but has a player like Greg Salas done enough to convince the front office that squeezing Hill off the roster is worth the effort? We'll see where the Jets go from here, but I've never questioned Hill's status with the team more than I do after his underwhelming preseason.
My Coples Runneth Over -- Quinton Coples had a standout performance after getting just a few reps a week ago. A lot has been written about Coples and whether he can make the leap this year. I can't predict if he will hit double-digit sacks in 2014, but I do know that he'll be a key contributing factor to the success of this defense whether it shows up on the stat sheet or not. Last night proved as much.
Backup Backers -- The Jets first team defense looks great, but it was good to see some of the backups standing out. Nick Bellore's tackle for loss was particularly noteworthy. As was Jason Babin's ability to harry the passer and force a fumble last night. Trevor Reilly might have stood out for an offsides penalty last night, but I get the sense that the Jets defense was testing their snap count anticipation and was given a little free reign on that series. Another similar penalty was called right afterwards.