The New York Jets appeared to take a massive step backwards in their 2nd preseason game against the Washington Redskins Friday night. The scoreboard at the end of a preseason game is meaningless, but what does matter is how a team holds up to the eye test. You want to be able to see your offense move the ball up and down the field, and for your defense to not appear as if they’re wearing rollerblades. When the Jets first and second teamers left the game at halftime, they had failed to show in any meaningful fashion that they had improved in the week since their 1st preseason game.
While the starting defense was on the field they were able to stop the Washington offense from scoring, and did force a safety (on a questionable penalty in the end zone), but they were unable to stop a Redskins offense led by Colt McCoy from moving the ball up and down the field. The game started with Washington going on a 15-play 67-yard drive that ate up over nine minutes of game clock. The Jets defense kept them from scoring thanks to a good adjustment by Darrelle Revis to intercept an ill-advised pass from McCoy that he should have thrown away.
Two plays earlier Washington actually did score when Marcus Williams failed to breakdown when trying to tackle Jamison Crowder in the flat; Crowder then waltzed into the end zone. This touchdown was called back as a result of a offensive pass interference call that didn’t impact the play in any meaningful fashion. Williams’ failure to make a proper tackle was a painful reminder of the terrible open field tackling that plagued the Jets all last season.
The Redskins second offensive drive appeared to be following the same pattern as the first possession of the game. The Jets defensive line was getting pushed back from the point of attack against the run, which made it difficult for the Jets linebackers to slide to the running back to make a tackle before they were already four yards deep into the Jets defensive backfield. The Jets secondary was playing very soft coverage, which allowed McCoy to dink and dunk Washington down the field. The Jets defense finally showed signs of life and stopped the Redskins thanks to back-to-back sacks by David Harris and Leonard Williams.
While the Jets defense looked bad, their offense looked even worse. Brandon Marshall dropped a pass on their first play, and they ended up going three and out on their first drive. On their 2nd drive they were pinned back in the shadow of their own goal line, Bilal Powell took a handoff on their first play, shrugged off a tackler and exploded for a first down. After a holding penalty on 2nd down, Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Kellen Davis on a nice pass across the middle that may have been a first down if Davis didn’t fumble the instant he was hit by a Redskins defender.
The Jets defense stood tall when Washington went for it on 4th and one from the Jets eight-yard line. The Jets offense finally started to show some life on the next drive. Fitzpatrick hit Marshall and Eric Decker for consecutive completions for a first down, and Powell followed that up with an 11-yard rush for another first. Then like clockwork, the Jets tight ends struck again. Fitzpatrick threw a nice pass to Jace Amaro who once again dropped the ball. Two straight incompletions followed on 2nd and 3rd downs, and a Lachlan Edwards punt signaled the end of the night for the Jets first-string offense.
After the Jets forced a safety on the Redskins ensuing possession, Geno Smith and the second string offense came in for what may end up signaling the end off Smith’s tenure as a Jet. After playing relatively well against the Jaguars, Geno was horrible Friday night. On his first possession Smith led the Jets to a three and out. Following a Redskins touchdown, he threw an atrocious interception. The Redskins then went on to score a 2nd touchdown against the Jets second defense. After getting the ball back, Geno actually looked halfway decent, leading the Jets 38-yards down the field in a two-minute drill, but the drive eventually stalled and the Jets turned the ball over on downs at the Washington 37 yard line.
In the second half the Jets brought in their third teams, and ended up mounting a comeback to take an 18-14 lead thanks to two TD passes by Bryce Petty and a Ross Martin 40-yard field goal. The Jets 3rd string defense looked great for most of the second half, forcing six consecutive punts. However, they let it all go to waste on the Redskins final drive, when they marched down the field and topped their game winning drive off with an incredible one handed catch in the end zone by Kendall Thompson.
The players of note among the Jets backups were Bryce Petty and Robby Anderson. We won’t be going into detail about their performances here, but check back later for a JETSDAQ: preseason stock watch and you’ll be able to find out how they played. You’ll also get a look at which Jets players are watching their stock rise and fall as we head into the second half of the preseason.