On one side, you had a coach and a wide receiver express concern about an offense that has displayed all the firepower of a water gun through three preseason games. On the other, a linebacker offered his best What-Us-Worry braggadocio?
Yes, the preseason games hold all the relevance of a Depression-era dance marathon in the 21st Century. But there are reasons to be worried about a Jets offense that special teams coach Mike Westhoff called "an All-Star team" on a recent edition of Hard Knocks.
The Jets have scored 36 points in the preseason and of the 36 points, the offense has scored 34. That breaks down to an average of 11.3 points per game. A closer examination shows that the Jets offense has only scored two touchdowns in the three pre-season games. With the real season starting in two weeks and a franchise that believes itself a Champion-in-waiting, there is not a whole lot of time to cure the offensive ills.
Against a not-exactly high powered Redskins squad, the Jets offense only managed a 45-yard Nick Folk field goal and a 10-yard Mark Sanchez touchdown pass to Dustin Keller (Folk missed the extra point). The other two points were due to a Rex Grossman safety after he fumbled a shotgun snap on the Washington six-yard line in the second quarter. The Jets also committed four turnovers (three fumbles and had a pass picked off).
The only aspect of the Jets' offensive game to comport themselves with any sort of competence was the running game. The Jets pounded Washington for 161 yards on 32 rushes. By comparison, the passing game only totaled 149 yards.
"There's no excuses now, this is the third pre-season game. We've had mini-camp, training camp and our time in L.A. with our quarterback and receivers there," said wide receiver David Clowney "Now training camp and games. No excuses anymore. We had, what, four turnovers? Unacceptable in my book."
As ghastly as the offense was, the Jets defense looked to be in mid-season form even without holdout All-Pro corner Darrelle Revis. The NFL's best defense in 2009 forced three fumbles (recovered one), sacked Grossman and John Beck twice, and only allowed three Graham Gano field goals (27 yards, 42 yards, 41 yards).
Washington's lone touchdown came with 2:13 left in the fourth quarter and the Jets starters on the sidelines. Third-string quarterback Richard Bartel connected with running back Larry Johnson on a 15-yard dump off-turned-touchdown.
It would be very easy for an offense vs. defense rift to form. It has happened in the past, as the Jets' fellow Meadowlands tenants, the Giants, made feuding units a cottage industry in the late 1990s.
Yet it appears that the 2010 Jets are, at least after three preseason games, a tight-knit group. Reserve linebacker Lance Laury did his best to quell the idea of rival factions within the Jets locker room.
"There is no real concern. Like Rex [Ryan] said, there are times the offense will carry the defense and the defense will carry the offense," said Laury. "The important thing is that we just need to keep playing our hardest, that's all."
The defense did suffer a blow. Outside linebacker Calvin Pace left the game with an undisclosed foot injury. Rex Ryan said that Pace, who had five tackles and a sack against the Redskins, is expected to "miss a few weeks."
The Jets last preseason game is this Thursday in Philadelphia.
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