By Peter Schwartz
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Some people may subscribe to the following theory about pre-season football: “It’s three hours of my life that I’ll never get back!”
In a lot of ways, that’s true.
However, when you look at the Jets’ 20-16 loss to the Texans in Monday night’s preseason opener, there were a number of things that we can take out of the game.
First and foremost, the Jets will be in the market for an offensive lineman or two this week after Robert Turner went down with a right ankle injury. Turner started at center in place of Nick Mangold, who sat out the game with a stinger that he suffered in practice on Thursday.
The Jets gave up seven sacks.
“Clearly, we’ve got a long way to go with our protections,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “We gotta figure this thing out because it’s ridiculous.”
If Turner is lost for a long period of time, it would be a big blow to the Jets, as he fills in at several positions. He’s scheduled for an MRI on Tuesday.
In a nutshell, the backup offensive line was awful.
And that’s being nice.
Last year’s second-round pick Vladimir Ducasse started at right tackle in place of Brandon Moore and continues to look lost at times. In fact, as it stands now, GM Mike Tannenbaum’s 2010 draft class leaves a lot to be desired.
The jury is still out on first round pick CB Kyle Wilson, and RB Joe McKnight is walking on shaky ground. McKnight got blown up on a block Monday night and was outplayed by 2011 4th round pick Bilal Powell in the battle for the No. 3 running back spot.
5th round pick WR/KR Jeremy Kerley played very well. He had 3 catches for 20 yards and did well on kick/punt returns.
Patrick Turner continues to lead the battle for the 5th WR spot as he had 6 catches for 32 yards and a touchdown. He’s a big target and should see some time this season.
TE Jeff Cumberland is making noise in determining who plays second fiddle to Dustin Keller. He had 6 catches for 77 yards.
Mark Sanchez looked sharp. He was 6 of 7 for 43 yards and led the Jets to a field goal on their opening drive of the game. But, as was the case many times last year, the Jets entered the red zone and had to settle for 3 instead of 7.
“It pretty much went like we thought it would,” said Ryan. “We played pretty well. Obviously you don’t like seeing the quarterback get hit – we gave up a couple sacks with that unit. That was disappointing.”
Sanchez, however, painted a little brighter picture about things than his head coach.
“It was good just to get back on the field,” said Sanchez. “It has been seven months since we were in full pads against another team. We accomplished what we wanted to. We got some early completions. I was proud of that first unit.”
That first unit should get a red zone boost this week as WR Plaxico Burress is expected to fully practice for the first time on Wednesday. Aside from a few plays, he hasn’t participated in team drills because of an ankle injury and didn’t play on Monday night.
Burress didn’t make the trip to Houston. While watching the game at home, he joined the national television broadcast via telephone and promised that when he returns, he’ll be the player that he was before missing two seasons because of a prison sentence.
“I’ll be back to the level I was playing at before everything happened,” said Burress on ESPN. “ The only way I’m going to get into football shape is to play football.”
Sanchez is chomping at the bit to throw passes to Burress. He did spread it around Monday during his one quarter of action. Santonio Holmes had 2 catches for 17 yards while Derrick Mason had 3 receptions for 21 yards.
7th round pick Greg McElroy played the rest of the game under center. After a shaky first drive, McElroy finished 23/39 for 208 yards and that TD pass to Turner.
I thought first round pick Muhammad Wilkerson was OK in his first “NFL game.” Third round pick Kenrick Ellis saw plenty of time and deflected a pass that was intercepted by Joe Mauga.
The Jets’ youth movement on the defensive line is going to pay dividends. Maybe not right away, but I think it will come at some point this season.
Because of the lockout and the consolidated nature of training camp, the Jets did not have their annual green and white scrimmage and treated Monday’s night’s game as its replacement.
That’s all well and good, but they need to step things up on Sunday night when they host the Bengals in the preseason home opener at New Meadowlands Stadium.
The expected return of Burress should provide some theatre on Sunday, something you don’t often get in an exhibition.
As a reminder, Wednesday’s practice at Florham Park is now closed to the public. Thursday’s session is the next practice that fans can come out to watch.
That’s all for now. The Jets return to the practice field on Wednesday. Check back soon for more!
What did you take out of Monday night’s game? Sound off in the comments below…