EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ: The New York Jets evened up their preseason record Friday night with a 30-22 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
With the game wrapped up, it’s time to empty the notebook with quick hits, tidbits, news and notes from the Jets victory. Have a question? Send over a Tweet.
If there was one clear observation to be made Friday night, it's that the Jets offense is going to be limited as long as Ryan Fitzpatrick is under center.
Look, there's no denying that the journeyman signal caller could stabilize an offense in disarray, but his simply doesn't have the arm strength to scare any defense. There's no risk to stretch the field with Fitzpatrick at the helm. Several times against Atlanta Fitzpatrick had time in the pocket, but instead of waiting for someone to break open down the field, he checked it down instead.
Now, that's not always bad. Three-to-five yards beats none any day of the week. But after a series or two, a quarterback needs to take that shot down the field to keep the safeties honest. With Fitzpatrick, that threat is never there. The opposition can stack the box with safeties to play the run because there's just no fear of any throw going beyond 20 yards.
Versus the Falcons, Fitzpatrick completed 13-of-19 passes for 118 yards.
He averaged 6.2 yards per attempt.
It was quite the home debut for rookie Leonard Williams as the defensive end was all over the field. Williams finished finished with five tackles, 1.5 sacks, three tackles for a loss, three quarterback hits and a safety. The numbers are staggering, no matter who he was playing against.
What was most impressive about Williams' evening wasn't the sack total, but the fact he was just as dominant against the run. He looks like a complete package, and if he continues to develop, he'll be quite the toy for Jets coach Todd Bowles and defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers to play with this season.
When Williams was originally drafted, he was viewed as a player that was a plus, but not a necessity. After all, the Jets had Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison already in the meeting room. But with Richardson suspended four games for a positive test for marijuana -- potentially more following his street racing incident-- and Wilkerson dealing with a hamstring issue, Williams is suddenly not only a starting member of New York's defensive line, but a focal point.
Few players had a rougher game last week against Detroit than quarterback Bryce Petty. To put it simply, the rookie had that deer-in-the-headlights look for every one of his snaps. When the game mercifully came to an end, he'd completed 10-of-18 passes for 52 yards. It was, to put it lightly, ugly.
Against Atlanta? Few players had a better game than Petty.
The quarterback was cool, calm and collected. He got in a rhythm. He made all the throws. When the game ended, Petty was sitting on the sideline as Jake Heaps got the final meaningless reps. His stat line? 12-of-19, 168 yards, one touchdown and 109.1 quarterback rating.
While Heaps is, at minimum, a year or two away from even being considered a starting option in the NFL, what Friday night showed was progress. And for a rookie, that's about all you can ask for. Petty's reads were improved, his footwork, his decision making and accuracy. The game looked like it slowed down for him after it couldn't have been going any faster a week ago.
New York still needs Matt Flynn on the roster until Geno Smith is healthy, and even if Fitzpatrick goes out and tosses six interceptions next week against the New York Giants, Petty still won't be given a realistic thought of taking over. He's not ready. Eight days hasn't changed that. But what eight days showed is that in a year or two, he could be the Jets No. 1.
Former first-round pick Quinton Coples really couldn't have looked much worse on the Falcon's first offensive drive. It started when he blew a coverage and allowed a 60-yard catch-and-run up the sideline by fullback Collin Mooney. A few plays later, Mooney blocked him out out of the picture on a walk-in touchdown for Terron Ward.
On the last year of his rookie deal, New York has little tied to Coples and may already be looking for his replacement. If his play doesn't improve, don't be surprised to see his reps be given to someone else.
It doesn't matter who lines up at quarterback for the Jets, Brandon Marshall is going to make their life much, much easier.
The big-play receiver displayed again against Atlanta just what he brings to an offense. Speaking after the game, Bowles said himself Marshall is the type of player that "even when he's covered, he's open." He's big, he's strong, he's fast. He understands the game mentally, but has the physical tools so few possess.
Marshall caught four passes for 62 yards against the Falcons, including a 30-yard catch-and-run up the sideline. The Jets haven't had a player capable of doing what Marshall can in his sleep in a long, long time.
By the numbers:
- The 30 points scored by the Jets against Atlanta was the first time the team has scored 30 points in a preseason game in six years. Against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009, the Jets pulled out a 38-27 victory thanks to 160 yards passing and two touchdowns from quarterback Erik Ainge.
- After three quarters of play, the Jets had held the ball for 27:49 and out-gained the Falcons 309-169.
- The Jets defense allowed the Falcons to march 85 yards on the first drive of the game. The remainder of the first half, the defense allowed just one net yard.
- Throughout his NFL career, running back Bilal Powell has average 3.9 yards per carry. This preseason he's averaging 4.8.