East Rutherford, NJ – The Jets take mixed feelings away from Monday night's game against the Giants, a strong first half showing including a 13-10 halftime lead gave way to a depressing second half effort. In the first quarter, the Jets limited the Giants offense to just six total yards and one first down as the defense swarmed and swirled all over the visitors. A gut-check reaction to the Jets' performance on Monday night, a 31-16 loss to the Giants:
The Good – On his first pass of the pre-season, it couldn't start any worse. Mark Sanchez threw a ball behind LaDainian Tomlinson that was picked off by the Giants, leading to the first Giants' score of the game, a short touchdown dive by Brandon Jacobs three plays later. But Sanchez bounced back admirably, going 6-8 for 48 yards on the next drive, capping it off with a four yard pass to Brad Smith as the Jets evened the game at 7-7. All told, Sanchez led three scoring efforts on five drives, putting in a solid night. Sanchez finished the night 13-17 for 119 yards with one touchdown, one interception.
It will get lost in the stat line, but Shonn Green had a catch in the touchdown drive in the first quarter, a short five yard pass from Sanchez down the left side of the field. Greene did not have a reception in the regular season last year and has worked on his pass-catching skills this off-season. If he can become an option and a threat in the offense to catch passes, then the Jets will have a very balanced offense. Greene also had a good night running, with five carries for 26 yards in the first quarter. His pass blocking, though still not a strong suit, has also improved.
The effort by Nick Folk was impressive. Twice on kick-offs in the first quarter, he almost hit the endzone. His three field goals were all solidly struck. He looks full healthy and recovered from surgery and set to re-gain his form of two years ago. Even his third quarter 46-yard field goal just narrowly missed but was well hit. The kicking game is no longer a concern for the Jets.
It was the first play from scrimmage, but what a powerful move by Bryan Thomas to hit Ahmad Bradshaw for a four-yard loss. Just a beast, swarming move to get into the backfield in two seconds and make the hit behind the line.
Consistently throughout the first half, Eli Manning had to go to his third our fourth read on his progression because Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson were shutting down his wide receivers. In fact, the Giants' largest passing play of the first half came on a pass out of their backfield, when Eli Manning essentially chest-passed to Ahmad Bradshaw for a 51-yard gain. It was good individual battles by the starting cornerbacks that limited Manning to just 26 yards passing outside that broken play.
The Bad – Pre-season games are always rusty, but the five penalties in the first half seemed a bit over the top, even by August's standard.
Talk about Cruz control…Victor Cruz made Dwight Lowery look awful on his third quarter touchdown grab, making a stupendous grab and dash for a 64-yard touchdown. Lowery looked helpless on the play and lost Cruz by a decisive step when the ball was thrown. In the fourth quarter, Drew Coleman got burned by Cruz on a good move off the line for a 34-yard touchdown.
The much ballyhooed position switch from linebacker to defensive end had similar results for Vernon Gholston, who didn't register a tackle in the game.
Three of the Giants' scoring drives took six plays or less. Not good for a defense supposed to be the best in the league. Rolling over like they did in the second half and giving up big plays is head-scratching for a defense that should be getting to the quarterback and has veteran depth at all positions.
The Outlook – It wasn't a good second half for the Jets, but the positives exist for the team despite the scoreline. After a shaky start, the offense bounced back and the defense in the first quarter was as close to dominant as a unit can get. Those are the good things. Jets' fans must be concerned about the defensive line as the two-deep got pushed around at times by a beat up and battered offensive line for the Giants. The Jets' secondary got burned several times in the second half, not a good sign for a unit that was being touted as a strength of the team during training camp.