EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — For a team trying to decide on a starting quarterback, Matt Simms sure looked pretty good for the New York Jets.
It came against the Philadelphia Eagles’ backups, of course. And, Simms doesn’t even know if he’ll still be on the roster after this weekend. While Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith wait for Rex Ryan and the Jets to select a starter, Simms made a strong case to be No. 3 over the hobbled Greg McElroy.
“I just know that I went out there and played as hard as I could,” Simms said. “I laid it all out on the line and we’ll see where that takes me.”
Simms led four scoring drives, and Kahlil Bell ran for 80 yards and two touchdowns as the Jets topped the Philadelphia Eagles 27-20 on Thursday night in the teams’ preseason finale.
“Yeah, it was a lot of fun,” said Simms, who went 33 of 44 for 285 yards while playing all but the final snap. “To go out there and play like that, it’s just tremendous. Your dream finally comes true. It was everything and more.”
“With us, there’s competition at the third quarterback spot, and we wanted to get Matt a lot of work,” Ryan said. “He was impressive.”
Sanchez, day to day with an injured shoulder, and Smith, the team’s second-round draft pick, will find out soon which of them will be under center when the Jets open the season against Tampa Bay on Sept. 8.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, has no such dilemma. Michael Vick beat out Nick Foles for the starting job, playing well in Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense. Foles had a rough night against the Jets, finishing 6 of 17 for 63 yards in two quarters.
“I don’t think we protected (Foles) very well,” Kelly said. “A lot of times, it was a four-man rush that was in his face. He didn’t really have time to set his feet. We had some protection issues with the second O-line.”
Both teams have plenty of questions to answer before the regular season begins, but here are five things we know about the Jets from the preseason:
1. QB QUESTIONS: While it appears the chances of Smith starting in Week 1 are increasing because of Sanchez’s shoulder injury, he is still raw and inexperienced. He took 14 snaps in the preseason opener before spraining his ankle and then missing the next game. Smith played into the fourth quarter last Saturday, but threw three interceptions and took a safety. He sat against the Eagles, avoiding risk for an unnecessary injury, but he’ll be learning on the job in a major way if he starts against the Buccaneers.
2. BACKFIELD IN MOTION: The Jets traded for Chris Ivory to be the No. 1 running back, but a hamstring issue slowed him in camp. When healthy, he’s a speedy and powerful presence who will likely team up with Bilal Powell, who had the best preseason of all the Jets’ backs. Mike Goodson is back with the team after missing a month because of personal reasons, and he’ll be suspended the first four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. But when he returns, he could add a pass-catching threat to a backfield that could be a triple threat.
3. DEFENSE WON’T REST: Ryan’s specialty has always been on the defensive side of the ball, and this year will be much of the same. The Jets are faster up front than they’ve been in years, and will need their front seven to put pressure on the quarterback as the secondary went through an overhaul. The defensive line could be the team’s biggest strength, and will be counted on to keep the Jets in games.
4. THE REX-IDZIK FACTOR: While many believe Ryan is a goner if the Jets don’t make the playoffs, the true measuring stick will be how he meshes with new GM John Idzik. The two have publicly said they enjoy working with each other, but the test begins once the season starts. Will they butt heads over personnel, such as the quarterback decision?
5. NO REVIS: Antonio Cromartie is a solid No. 1 cornerback, but he’s no Darrelle Revis. The pressure’s on for Cromartie to be at least as solid as he was when he filled in last season for an injured Revis. Top draft pick Dee Milliner has been dealing with injuries all offseason. The Jets need him to be healthy and be as good as advertised or the secondary could be in big trouble.
Here are five things we know about the Eagles from the preseason:
1. VICK STILL HAS IT: Just a few weeks ago, some wondered if Vick would be elsewhere by now. Not only did he stick around, he won the starting job and appeared rejuvenated while doing it. The dazzling plays that most remember from his early days are still there, and his legs are still going to be something opposing defenses will need to deal with – even at 33 years old.
2. FLYING EAGLES: It should be fun to see what Kelly will do in the NFL after his University of Oregon teams zipped up and down the field with their up-tempo offense. Kelly certainly has some playmakers that should help the Eagles make frequent trips to the end zone with Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant and Bryce Brown leading the way.
3. SUSPECT SECONDARY: The weakness of the team when it allowed 33 TD passes, the Eagles’ secondary could be a problem again especially since it lacks depth. At least early on, opposing offenses will test free-agent signings Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams, who replaced former Pro Bowl cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Nate Allen and Patrick Chung are the starters at safety.
4. NEW DEFENSE: Coordinator Billy Davis is using a new 3-4 alignment, and if what it did against the Jets is any indication, the Eagles could be trouble for some teams. Philadelphia had seven first-half sacks on Thursday night – and those were by backups. Defensive ends Trent Cole and Brandon Graham moved to linebacker, where the Eagles also have DeMeco Ryans, Connor Barwin and Mychal Kendricks.
5. HEALTHY O-LINE: For Kelly’s offense to work, the Eagles need their offensive line to stay healthy – something that was an issue last season. Center Jason Kelce, left tackle Jason Peters and right guard Todd Herremans all missed at least most of last season. They’re all back and feeling good, and first-round pick Lane Johnson is a big addition at right tackle.
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