The Jets scored a whopping 37 points in their preseason victory over Jacksonville this past Saturday. Many people saw their stock with the Jets rise and fall as a result of either their own performance or the performance of their competition. Let’s examine which Jets benefited and which Jets suffered after the 2nd week of preseason.
Winner: Bilal Powell
After rushing for a mere 1.4 yards per carry against Detroit, Powell got redemption – rushing 7 times for 68 yards and an astonishing 9.1 yards per carry. Every time he got a direct snap he took it 8 or more yards and seemed to really explode through the hole. If he continues to play well this pre-season he might just land a few HB starts this season. Which brings me to our first loser…
Losers: Chris Ivory
It was predictable that Ivory might not get too many snaps considering his injury problems this off-season, but he really struggled to impress on his 6 carries, only getting 13 yards in the process. Much like Mike Goodson, the uncertainty surrounding his ability to get on the field makes it tough to tell if he can really be a permanent starter, much less the workhorse HB like Adrian Peterson or Maurice Jones-Drew that the Jets traded for.
Winners: Ryan Spadola and Braylon Edwards
Though they are total opposites in terms of where they came from and what their histories with the Jets are, they have one thing in common: they are firmly on the bubble of making this roster. Edwards showed that he still has chemistry with Mark Sanchez, making several very good catches for first downs – although he was exposed as having lost a step in the speed department. Spadola on the other hand showed a great combination of strong hands and quickness, matching Edwards for a team leading 3 passes for 49 yards. Despite being an undrafted FA, Spadola has been impressing in camp and has a good chance to make the roster if the other 3rd/4th string receivers continue to falter.
Losers: Kellen Winslow and Stephen Hill
Unlike Spadola and Edwards, Winslow and Hill’s spots on the roster are basically guaranteed because of the investment the team made in them (and the lack of depth at TE). Both guys had just 1 catch for fewer than 5 yards each, and Hill once again dropped the ball (albeit was tipped by a defender before hitting him in the hands). The Jets need to get better production out of the guys that are penciled in as being the #2 guys at their respective positions – or they may find themselves at the bottom of the depth chart this year.
Winner: ST Coach Ben Kotwica
This is Kotwica’s first year as ST coach, taking over for Mike Westhoff and so far the reviews have been quite good. There were no glaring mistakes by the Jets in the special teams game, and the team managed to capitalize on several Jacksonville mistakes. Clyde Gates had 2 phenomenal kick returns (more on who that impacts later), Ryan Quigley launched 2 of his 4 punts into the 20 and hit one a whopping 69 yards, and the kicking battle continues with Nick Folk and Billy Cundiff, who combined for 13 points and no misses, including a 54-yarder from Folk (giving him the lead, perhaps?). The Jets need Special Teams to be perfect this year in order to capitalize on what we can expect will be many, many mistakes by the offense – and the prospects look good.
Loser: Joe McKnight
It’s a shame about McKnight – in three years with the team he’s led the league in KR average twice, making All-Pro as a returner in 2011 – and now he’s questionable to even make the roster. Because of head injuries, legal troubles and a history of conditioning problems he may lose his spot on the team this year. Clyde Gates proved on Saturday that he can easily replace McKnight in the KR game, and Kahlil Bell displayed the kind of burst and quickness that many fans have hoped McKnight would show in his first three years. Sadly, McKnight’s tenure with the Jets may end before he even gets a chance to show off his skills this preseason.
Winner: Dee Milliner
Despite giving up numerous catches to Justin Blackmon and others, Milliner rarely let anyone get yards after the catch. For the rest of his career Milliner will get the unfair Revis comparisons because of where and when he was taken in the draft. But from what I saw in this game, Milliner showed that he can play like a starting CB.
Loser: Demario Davis
Simply put, he is neither impressing in camp, in games, or anywhere in between. He is not making the kind of impact that an ILB needs to make and it may cost him the starting job.
Winner: Geno Smith
Despite not playing, Smith still has a good shot of winning the starting job if he can pull off a good performance against the Giants on the 24th. Sanchez failed to lock up the starting job by failing to score in the red zone twice – Smith just needs to play like a regular NFL QB and get points and the starting job could very well be his by next September.
Loser: Kyle Wilson
Where’d he go?
Winner: Calvin Pace
Much to the chagrin of most people who want the Jets to look younger this year, Calvin Pace has been impressing coaches with his form tackling and overall performance in camp. We saw his number called a few times in the game and he seems poised to return as the starting OLB this year.
Loser: Antwaan Barnes
Barnes was signed to be a pass rush specialist opposite Quinton Coples, but he had no impact in the game and is not even set to start in Coples’ place now that he is out indefinitely with an injury. Instead, Garret McIntyre will be taking Coples’ spot as the OLB. There really doesn’t seem to be much of a future for Barnes if he can’t even get on the field.