Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comHere’s a quick summary of what took place last night in Cortland New York in the team’s camp scrimmage that precedes their first preseason game against the Colts this Thursday night.
Eric Decker & Chris Johnson saw time — After being limited in practice this week due to a hamstring injury, Eric Decker played and had one catch in the scrimmage. Other than that pass, Decker didn’t see much attention from the quarterbacks. Chris Johnson also played and felt good about his return to the field after his offseason knee treatment. “I got a lot out of it,” Johnson told reporters. “just going out there wanting to test my knee out against full contact. I came out feeling good… I was a little nervous, but after the first play, I was OK.” Johnson also said he had no hesitation.
Offensive offense? — Most of the headlines today are about how the offense wasn’t able to get into the end zone against this defense. The offense did move the ball enough to put up two field goals, they were not able cross the plane, most notably in a goal-line stand. RB Daryl Richardson got stuffed on three runs before Geno Smith (working with the twos) rolled was sacked on a rollout by Garrett McIntyre. Both quarterbacks were at around 50% of their completions and there were just a few standout plays. One was a long pass from Geno Smith to Stephen Hill for 41 yards beating Dimitri Patterson. Geno also threw an interception to CB Darrin Walls who jumped the route on a play. After the scrimmage, Vick told reporters that “Our defense is extremely tough. I don’t know if they game-planned for us in one day or what, but they did a good job.”
Cause for alarm? — Simply put, no. It might not be the offensive explosion that some might expect, but the team still has a month to go before the season starts and they were playing what we believe to be one of the league’s best defenses. “We had the [first team offense] with the [first team defense]; it wasn’t like we’re softening up,” Ryan said after the game. “We don’t anticipate giving up a whole lot of points with that group … I think when we tee it off for real on Thursday night, I think we’ll probably put up some points.” If anything it validates that we know this will be a good defense and that they could be better at turning the ball over this season than they were a year ago. As for the offense? They only need be middling to make this a legitimate team if the defense will be so good. And putting a middling offense against a top defense will yield obvious results. I will withhold judgement until I see the Jets play their three preseason games that are relevant for the team’s starters. Speaking of which, while the Jets starters will be limited this Thursday to a bland game plan for a few series, the Colts didn’t do much to address their saggy defense this offseason. To Ryan’s point, I expect the Jets will do better against that Colts defensive unit than they would against their own team .
Great marks from the defense — Surprising to no one, the defense had quite a night. Jason Babin, Garrett McIntyre and Rontez Miles were some of the names that tallied would-be sacks against quarterbacks. The defense was able to break through the line frequently, had a goal-line stand, forced at least one fumble and two interceptions in the scrimmage and walked off the field pleased with their work. “We’re better off than where we were last year at this point,” second year DL Sheldon Richardson said. “Everybody is in the right positions to make plays. We’re either making the play or not. I’d rather have that than just blown coverages or blown assignments in the box-seven. That’s something I think is a pretty good job all around from [coach] Rex [Ryan] all the way down to the last guy on the depth chart.” Ryan was also pleased with the fundamentals, something that’s been a concern for this group in seasons past. “I was really impressed with our tackling,” Ryan said. “Most of the time when you start your first real, live tackling, minus goal-line situations, you have a lot of missed tackles. But I don’t think that was the case today, so I was happy with the way our defense tackled.”
Penalty plague — After the long gain to Stephen Hill, the offense wiped out some of their gains by committing a false start on the offensive line (believed to be Willie Colon). The offense seemed to shoot itself in the foot at times, according to receiver Eric Decker. “The biggest thing we have to work on is eliminating the penalties that put us behind 10 yards,” Eric Decker told reporters. “We had first-and-15, first-and-25, first-and-30 a couple times. You’re not going to win football games if you’re in those positions. Making sure we eliminate those mental mistakes and move the ball forward.”
Miles from ordinary — Safety Rontez Miles has been making a name for himself during training camp. After getting some run with the first team special teams group, Miles had a good night in the scrimmage notching a sack and one almost interception. “[Miles] got a chance to shine a little bit, and sometimes the cream rises to the top,” said head coach Rex Ryan. Dont’ be surprised if the Jets try to carry five safeties into the season. Miles is impressing, but not at the expense of Jaiquawn Jarrett it might seem. “Jarrett has been outstanding,” Ryan said of his other backup safety. “[He] might be playing as well as anybody.”
Salas on the rise — Receiver Greg Salas came to the Jets last season after being signed off the Eagles practice squad and saw action in eight of the Jets sixteen games in 2013. Prior to his time with the Eagles, Salas was drafted by the Rams but was traded to the Patriots. The journeyman understands the fickle nature of the NFL. “Nothing is going to be given to anybody here,” Salas said after the game. “You got to earn it … I’m just here trying to make a case for myself, and I think I’m trying to do a good job of that.”
Salas has made an excellent case so far but is up against some serious numbers and potential bias from a draft class that included three receivers. Salas might not be the fastest (4.53 timed 40 at the 2011 NFL Combine) receiver, but he is sure-handed and seems to be finding his place with the Jets catching five passes for 54 yards and adding a goal-line situation for the team by drawing an interference penalty from Darrin Walls in the end zone. Salas did have one drop, which Rex Ryan kidded him about. “All Salas does is catch the football … except that one drop.” Ryan joked. “It’s funny, but that’s what he does. He’s not a blazer by any means but he certainly gets the football. He gets open and he competes as a blocker, so those are all encouraging things.”
Players who didn’t play — Here’s who sat for the Jets due to injuries: WR Shaq Evans (shoulder), CB Dexter McDougle (groin), RB Bilal Powell, safety Calvin Pryor (concussion). During the game, CB Jeremy Reeves got stepped on but Ryan pronounced he’d be alright with some rest. DE/OLB Jermaine Cunningham left the scrimmage and limped off the field. “Obviously, he wasn’t able to continue,” Ryan said, “so I’m concerned there.”