HACKENBERG: The much-anticipated debut was a good one that stayed with bounds. Hackenberg was successful throughout the game with some quick hits out of the backfield and a few yards downfield. He overthrew two sideline patterns and had two dropped passes. But he moved around the pocket with confidence and was in control.
Hackenberg connected on his first five passes and opened 9-for-11. He was interception free and finished the night 18-for-25 for 127 yards and one sack. His completion average was 5.1 and hit QB rating was 83.1 The lone question will be his ability to accurately throw downfield, having the strongest arm in camp. For an opening game, however, there weren’t any wrinkles.
The Penn State product easily could have been spurred by the performance of Josh McCown, who impressively led the Jets downfield on their opening, eight-play, 78-yard drive that resulted in his four-yard TD flip to Charone Peake. McCown completed 3-of-4 passes for 72 yards, a nifty 52 yard strike downfield to Robbie Anderson. However, McCown exited after the opening series.
Bryce Petty came into game with 1:01 remaining in the third quarter. He broke free on a 10-yard scamper, the longest Jets’ run of the night.
DEEE-FENSE: Like Hackenberg, this unit’s debut was also anxiously awaited. And they answered the call. Leonard Williams recorded a sack on Marcus Mariotta on Tennessee’s first drive and Muhammed Wilkerson was seemingly in every play. The first unit showed they could be a dominant unit this season, and the second team didn’t miss a beat.
The unit held Tennessee to 89 yards at halftime, 35 of those on the ground. However, the most impressive factor was their team speed, which kept Tennessee bottled up for the first three quarters and led to seven sacks. The Jets also had a strong night tackling as they rarely missed any open tackles.
Julian Stanford, who had a monster sack that temporarily knocked out backup quarterback Alex Tanney, Demario Davis, Bruce Carter and Spencer Paysinger had strong games from their linebacking positions.
Dexter McDougle, battling back from injuries, also had a solid game in the secondary along with Marcus Wiliams, Jordan Jenkins, and Darryl Roberts.
If this unified effort continues, it will be a tough call on cutdown day.
RUNNING GAME: With Matt Forte and Bilal Powell out, the Jets went to a running game by committee.
Rookie Elijah McGuire took the lead with some swift moves around the corner early, but he eventually had trouble getting past the line.
Romar Morris then became the top back and he showed some flash as he carried 12 times for 20 yards. Jordan Todman also had some moments, carting eight times for 20 yards.
It wasn’t a night on the ground as the Jets had a combined 31 carries for 60 yards. The Jets’ O-Line had plenty of interchangeable parts on the night and they only allowed two sacks.
But the early return shows that Forte and Powell must stay healthy
RECEIVERS: With the Jets’ receiving corps being in the spotlight lately, they certainly showed their flexibility and depth.
Anderson looked good early as he caught three balls for 71, and he was one of 15 different receiver to catch passes from the Jets’ trifecta of quarterbacks. Highly touted ArDarius Stewart caught a ball for eight yards in the third quarter.