Here are four issues (there are more) surrounding the Jets’ 16-6 loss to the Detroit Lions Saturday night.
QUARTERBACK KNUNDRUM.. IS THERE?: The spotlight in the opening half belonged to Christian Hackenberg, who presumably was auditioning for the starting job. On the third play from scrimmage, Hackenberg was hit as he dropped back and he lost the ball – his right tackle didn’t pick a blitzing linebacker. He did recover the ball, but the play set the tone for the rest of the first half.
Hackenberg did fire two balls down field , but both were high and overthrown. On a third-and-five, he nearly had a batted ball intercepted. On the night, he finished 2-for-6 for 14 yards and was sacked twice, and the Jets had to punt on their first five possessions. He did have a nice 12-yard run that ended in a slide.
In his defense, the Jets shuffled linemen around as they are still looking for the right combination. Still, Hackenberg didn’t have the same pocket presence as he did against Tennessee, and he did have Bilal Powell in the backfield. It will be interesting to see how much he plays in the team’s final dress rehearsal against the Giants next week.
Head coach Todd Bowles had the second half to Bryce Petty, who apparently had little troubling running the West Coast offense. With a series of short passes, Petty finished 15 of 24 for 160 yards and an interception and a sack.
Petty certainly raised his stock in the battle even though he played against the second and third units.
Veteran Josh McCown didn’t play and has only one series under his belt. But the veteran likely will get the call for three quarters next week against the Giants.
LINEBACKER DEPTH: The Jets’ linebacking corps had another strong outing with starters Demario Davis, Darron Lee, and Jordan Jenkins setting the pace early. Davis and Lee led tm with six tackles apiece.
Corey Lemonier had an interception and a sack and he led a solid reserve unit that again showed their mettle. Bruce Carter, Lorenzo Mauldin, Josh Martin, and Julian Sanford all continued to tighten their grip on a roster spot.
Aside from the quarterbacks, this is the tightest and most interesting battle in camp.
DEFENSIVE PUSH: At the start of the game, the Jets’ first-team defense looked good, notably the front four of Steve McLendon, Muhammed Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Leonard Williams. They also managed to hurry Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford on several occasions. The secondary also was aggressive throughout most of the opening half.
But the Jets’ offense began to stall, and the defense had to defend 36 plays in the opening half, Stafford marched his team down the field for a touchdown and backup quarterback Jake Ruddock took the team down for a late field goal.
Still, the Jets bent, but they didn’t break. They allowed 82 yards on the ground and 180 yards in the air.
OFFENSIVE WOES: Running back Bilal Powell was back in the fold, and he ran for a team-high 32 yards and caught two passes out of the backfield for 14 yards. Certainly, it wasn’t vintage Powell. The Jets will have a better feel for their ground game if Matt Forte can return next week.
Overall, though, it wasn’t a glowing day for the offense. The rotating linemen couldn’t generate a consistent ground game for Powell and a series of backs. The receivers, who faced a zone from Tennessee most of the game last week, were confronted at the line by the Lions’ d-backs and the starters couldn’t catch a pass.
The Jets will need to get their line together soon to open up the running game, and Robbie Anderson or someone from the receiving corps will need to become a gamebreaker.
ODDS AND ENDS: With Lucky Whitehead likely done for the season with a broken foot, Marcus Murphy did a respectable job returns punts and kickoffs. Frankie Hammond wasn’t bad either, but he fumbled a punt away…Ross Martin figuratively got a leg up over Chandler Cantanzaro in the kicker competition as he booted a pair of field goals, and Catanzaro didn’t get a shot…Rumors over the airways had Colin Kapernick possibly headed to the Jets if their quarterback experiment fails. It is a longshot as the Jets D really didn’t have any interest in the offseason.
Kapernick’s likely landing spot could be Jacksonville if starter Blake Bortles continues to have an awful preseason.