If there’s anything that was obvious Saturday night, besides the lack of appearances by Snoopy, it’s that the Jets have a lot more work to do before the start of the regular season.
This was supposed to be the week in the preseason where the Jets’ offense cranked it up a notch and got themselves in gear. What fans instead saw was an uneven performance from starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and similar results from his three understudies.
The final result for the Jets was a 21-20 defeat at the hands of the New York Giants in their annual preseason clash at MetLife Stadium.
Head coach Todd Bowles found a way to get all four quarterbacks in the game, as he was hoping to do. This meant Christian Hackenberg, the Jets’ 2016 second-round draft pick, took the field for his first taste of live action.
Hackenberg came on in the fourth quarter for Bryce Petty and impressed with a 10-yard touchdown to Robby Anderson. The rookie went 4 of 6 on his first NFL drive, but that’s where the feel-good story stopped.
Giants safety Andrew Adams picked off Hackenberg, deep in Jets territory, which setup the Giants game-winning touchdown. Ballgame over.
Let’s get back to Fitzpatrick though.
In Fitzpatrick’s case, he was without his top receiver. Brandon Marshall was a surprise scratch before the game with sore hips, Robby Anderson started in his place but he’s no Marshall.
The Jets have become known for their slow starts lately, Fitzpatrick hasn’t done much in preseason to quiet down the chatter about that.
Fitzpatrick was 9 of 16, for 79 yards, with his last throw ending up being his best one on the night. He found Eric Decker in the end zone on a beautiful 22-yard pass and catch for a touchdown.
That was Fitzpatrick’s lone highlight. He missed on throws he normally makes and fumbled after taking a sack from former-Jet nose tackle Damon Harrison.
The fact that Fitzpatrick missed most of the Jets’ offseason activities because of contract negotiations can’t be dismissed. He looks like a veteran quarterback still shaking off the rust.
It’s understandable, but the Jets had better hope Fitzpatrick finds his rhythm in time for the season opener in two weeks.
Geno Smith and Bryce Petty followed Fitzpatrick and neither did much of anything with their opportunities to establish themselves for the number two quarterback spot.
Petty threw a head-scratcher of an interception in the fourth quarter which was returned 73 yards by Giants defensive end Kerry Wynn. It’s a throw Petty knows he just can’t make, especially not when you’re trying to secure a roster spot.
“Definitely not the outcome I wanted, especially on the last play,” said Petty afterwards. “I knew I was going to be limited series wise and wanted to put the best foot forward and build off the last two weeks.”
“It’s a stupidity thing on my part. I can’t let that happen,” Petty continued on if the interception was a timing issue. “We’re in the red zone, we’ve got points, if it’s not there, make the smart decision to throw it away. I was doing that but I didn’t do it the smartest way it should’ve been done, which is just throwing it as hard as you can at his feet and live to see another down. I have to learn from that, we’ll never let that happen again. We’ll get better from it.”
There was some signs of optimism to look at, if you look hard enough. The first-team defense was strong and featured the preseason debut of Muhammad Wilkerson.
Running back Matt Forte made his preseason and showed no signs of the hamstring issues which have kept him on the sidelines and limited in practice. Forte ran for 28 yards on 11 carries, the Jets went to him early and often on their first couple of possessions.
“It was good for his first time out,” said Jets head coach Todd Bowles. “He got to take some hits and go full speed and get used to live action again. From that standpoint, it was real good.”
Robby Anderson took advantage of his extended playing time with four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. Anderson has played his way into strong consideration for a roster spot.
“He’s young. He’s a rookie,” said Bowles when asked for his assessment on Anderson. “It was good to see him out there against some top flight corners going in the game early. He has a lot of ability, but he has a lot to learn. We’re just going to try to keep getting him better week by week.”
The Jets may have lost the Snoopy Bowl, but they got bigger concerns and Bowles knows his team’s no where ready for takeoff yet.
“We’re not close,” said Bowles.”We still have a lot of work to do before opening day.”