By Peter Schwartz
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Just minutes after Monday night’s game, a delighted Jets head coach Rex Ryan was presented with a trophy and a check for $40,000 for the team’s charity of choice.
However, if Ryan was being truthful, he would have apologized to Snoopy for a sloppy performance in the Jets’ 17-3 win over the Giants in the annual summer contest between the two football locals — and the first since it was named the MetLife Bowl.
The offense struggled through most of the first half, and that’s putting it mildly. They took a 7-3 halftime lead thanks to Mark Sanchez hooking up with Santonio Holmes on a 17-yard touchdown pass with 1:53 to go in the second quarter.
“Overall I think we had a pretty good day,” said Sanchez. We won the three quarters like we wanted to. We started off a little slow, but we got things going right before halftime.”
The Jets have two big concerns right now. Getting the running game on track and staying away from dumb penalties like the one that Wayne Hunter committed on the Jets’ opening drive of the third quarter.
A Shonn Greene 3-yard run set up what would have been a third and short but Hunter committed an unnecessary roughness penalty making it third and 17 and the Jets would later have to punt.
“Unfortunately, we got a penalty when we were really driving,” said Sanchez. “In a rivalry game like this, we have to keep our cool and be sharp, but I was proud of the guys for playing through everything, staying strong and staying poised.”
The running game is struggling. Greene had 11 carries for 42 yards while LaDainian Tomlinson had 1 carry for zero yards.
If the offense is going to be true to its “Ground And Pound” mentality, then the ground attack has to start picking it up.
Needless to say, Ryan was left scratching his head at the half as he watched his offense rack up just 4 first downs. The starting offense was just 1 for 8 on third down.
“Obviously, I’d like to get a few more first downs,” said Ryan. “I think the defense stood up a little bit. We had some miscues there, but it’s a preseason game. We have to play a lot better offensively. We have to move the ball better.”
The first team defense gave up some big plays and came up with some big plays including interceptions by Jim Leonhard and David Harris.
“We did a great job of taking the ball away,” said Leonard. “We gave up too many yards, that was the biggest thing. We’ll take a look at the film and see what happened. We did a great job of getting the ball back to our offense and we are seeing it pay off right now.”
The Jets now have six interceptions during the preseason.
The defense continued to play a bend but not break style of play in the third quarter. They came up with a huge goal-line stand as the Giants had a 4th and goal from the Jets one. Giants running back Danny Ware was stuffed at the goal line.
It was a 10 play, 84-yard drive by the Giants that resulted in a turnover on downs.
Jets first round pick DL Muhammad Wilkerson and Giants RB Brandon Jacobs got into a little brouhaha in the third quarter and both were ejected from the game. Wilkerson was the big loser there and he needs reps to get ready for the season. Already anointed as a starter, Wilkerson was not able to take part in any OTA’s or mini-camps because of the lockout.
LB Nick Bellore came up with 2 big plays in a row during a third quarter drive. He brought down Andre Brown for no gain and then sacked David Carr for an 11-yard loss.
Ryan really likes Bellore so it will be interesting to see if he survives the cuts this week.
Who says the Jets’ wildcat formation went by the wayside when Brad Smith signed with the Bills?
In the fourth quarter, 5th round pick Jeremy Kerley took a direct snap and completed a 13-yard pass to TE Matthew Mulligan.
WR Courtney Smith may hear from the Turk on Tuesday. His holding penalty wiped out what would have been a touchdown run by backup QB Greg McElroy in the fourth quarter. McElroy, a 7th-round pick, continues to impress and you can bet he will replace Mark Brunell as the backup to Sanchez in 2012.
IRENE HITS THE JETS HARD
The Jets’ practice facility in Florham Park, New Jersey took a big hit during Hurricane Irene. The storm caused the Atlantic Health Training Center to lose power on Sunday as part of the widespread power outages in the area.
However, those areas critical to football operations such as coaching, personnel, team meeting rooms, and training room continued to function off of an existing generator.
The Jets briefly conducted meetings at the facility on Monday prior to the Giants game. On Tuesday, the majority of the business support staff will work from Met Life Stadium while the team, media relations, and ticketing will continue to operate out of the practice facility.
THE SHORT WEEK AHEAD
The Jets will have a light practice on Tuesday. Gang Green, like all 32 NFL clubs, will also have to trim their rosters from 90 down to 80 on Tuesday.
With the game against the Giants postponed from Saturday until Monday, the Jets have a very compressed week as they have to work on cutting players and getting the backups ready for Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Eagles at MetLife Stadium.
FINAL ROSTER SPOTS UP FOR GRABS
The starters are not expected to play on Thursday so that made it easier to reschedule the Giants game to Monday. So with the starters wearing baseball caps, there will definitely be some battles for roster spots on Thursday night.
Here is the tale of the tape:
Nick Folk vs. Nick Novak for the placekicking job
This has been a very close battle in camp. There’s no question that Novak has been right there with Folk, but I think Folk will get the nod. After all he is the incumbent and made several big kicks last year including the game winner against the Colts in the playoffs. Folk nailed a 33-yard field goal against the Giants.
Chris Bryan vs. T.J. Conley for the punting job
The pick is someone other than these two. I think the Jets 2011 punter is not currently on the roster, as Bryan and Conley have done nothing to distinguish themselves during training camp and the pre-season games. I fully expect the Jets to pick up a punter over the weekend when final cuts are made around the league.
Perhaps the punter could come from the other team that calls MetLife Stadium home. Hmmmm. Now, at first, I thought that if the Giants cut Steve Weatherford, the Jets would bring him back. But, from what I hear, his relationship with Rex Ryan and Mike Westhoff was so bad at the end of the season, that’s not likely to happen. But, if the Giants cut Matt Dodge, who better to get his mind straight after the DeSean Jackson debacle than Westhoff?
Patrick Turner vs. Logan Payne for the 5th wide receiver spot
Payne suffered a wrist injury in the first quarter against the Giants so Turner may win by default unless the Jets pick up another receiver. There are those who think that Payne would have won the job because he excels on special teams. Now while I agree that a 5th receiver needs to produce wherever possible, I think Turner is the better choice for the long term. He is a big receiver at 6’6” and can really benefit this season from watching Plaxico Burress. Turner has looked very good in camp and he would be my pick but we’ll see.
Vladimir Ducasse vs. ??? for the fill-in for Robert Turner swing offensive lineman position
Do I really have to make a pick here?
Okay, so I will.
The answer is none of the above. Sorry to take the easy way out but you’ve all watched the pre-season games. Has Ducasse played well? No. Have any of the backups distinguished themselves? No again. While Mike Tannenbaum is looking for a punter, he’ll be fishing around for some offensive line help as well.
When it comes to tinkering with the roster, the Jets have some wiggle room. According to profootballtalk.com, the Jets are $10.7 million under the salary cap.
SHAMELESS PLUG TIME!
This coming Saturday on WFAN, I’ll be joined by the FAN’s Giants beat reporter Paul Dottino for a special preseason football talk show from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. We’ll have some special guests, take your phone calls at 1-877-337-6666, and take a look around the NFL on a day when teams have to trim their rosters down to the final 53. Hope you can join us!
That’s all for now! Check back soon for more!
Are you worried about the Jets? Let Schwartz know in the comments below…