Tonight’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals did not match the expectations or hype, with Tony Sparano’s offense managing only 2 field goals in a 17 – 6 loss to start the pre-season.
Mark Sanchez went 4 – 6 for 21 yards and was sacked twice. Without starting receiver Santonio Holmes and right tackle Wayne Hunter in the lineup, Sanchez didn’t have many opportunities to make any decent passes, and the offensive line didn’t provide the running game with much either. Shonn Greene ran 5 times for a meager 11 yards.
The Jets opened the game with a dump off pass, a short run and a sack. A drive that fell far short of the expectations of the Jets fan base.
On the defenses first series, the Jets forced the Bengals a three and out with a pass broken-up by free agent safety, Yeremiah Bell. Bell, the former Miami Dolphin, put a big hit on TE Jermaine Gresham to break up the potential first down pass.
The Jets second offensive drive started with a solid 6 yard run by Shonn Greene, then another Greene run for just a yard, and finished with a incomplete short out to rookie Jordan White. A penalty on special teams put the Jets back on the field.
On first down, Sanchez hit wide receiver Patrick Turner with a pass for 5 yards.
Three of the Bengals starters sustained injuries during the game. First, left guard Travelle Wharton went down, then linebacker Rey Maualuga with a knee injury. Defensive End Carlos Dunlap sustained an injury shortly after and was also forced from the game.
On Sanchez’s last drive with the offense, Sanchez dove for the first down, and converted on the third and five. The dive was reminiscent of the same first down dive against Buffalo in November 2010 that forced him to miss the next game with a knee injury. The rest of the drive didn’t bode so well. Sanchez was sacked once and disrupted on the next passing attempt resulting in a punt. The offensive line was out of sync from the get go and the tight ends could not block anything coming their way.
Tim Tebow played exactly the same way he did in Denver; he ran more than he passed. His final numbers were 4 – 8 for 27 yards and 4 runs for 32 yards. After one pre-season game, one thing is certain; it takes more than one defender to get Tebow down.
The battle for the primary backup running back was a clear decision tonight: Joe McKnight ran much swifter than Bilal Powell. McKnight finished with 7 rushes for 32 yards and caught 3 passes for 34 yards.
Wide receiver Stephen Hill was non-existent with Sanchez at quarterback, but when Tebow came in, Hill received 3 targets and caught 2 passes for 17 yards including a nice 5 yard slant route for Tebow’s first completion. The other target was a drop on a ten yard hitch that resulted in a fourth down.
In the second quarter, Eric Smith sustained an apparent knee injury while making a tackle on special teams. X-rays on Smith’s injury can back negative; the extent of his injury is yet to be determined.
To close out the first half, the special teams unit allowed a blocked punt deep in the Jets zone that turned into a Bengals touchdown with the ball landing in the end zone. On the kickoff after the blocked punt, rookie wide receiver Jordan White botched the return by dropping the ball then returning it from the end zone with defenders already inside the ten-yard line. Mike Westhoff cannot be pleased with these results and he has work to do with his special teams units.
Quinton Coples made a good first impression, blowing up 2 rushing plays for losses, recording a sack and blocking one pass. The 1st round pick provided enough tonight to keep Jets fans from making Vernon Gholston remarks.
The starting defensive unit looked solid, despite allowing the Bengals a red zone opportunity that turned into a successful field goal for former Jets kicker Mike Nugent. Bart Scott allowed one big pass to running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but had the speed to keep up and make the tackle.
The Jets kicking competition was a successful first opportunity for both Nick Folk and Josh Brown. Both made their lone attempts, Brown from 42 yards and the Folk from 38 yards.
The Jets offense is far from polished, hopefully next Saturday against the New York Giants will be a better showing for Rex Ryan and Co.
Eric Gonzalez is a regular contributor to The Green Room. You can follow him on Twitter @EricG_89.