This year’s annual snoopy bowl in the preseason exposed many weaknesses and showcased many strengths but these are the three top takeaways from last nights game for the New York Jets.
Takeaway #1: Sam Darnold Has Already Matured
You’re probably thinking, okay Dylan, you might be getting ahead of yourself, but hear me out. Since the end of last season upon his return from injury, Darnold lit it up.
He seemed confident and like an absolute gamer. Then, One Jets Drive comes out and you can truly see how high his football IQ is and how much his rookie season taught him. Training camp has been filled with positives and impressive throws.
Now, in the preseason opener, Gase handed him the keys with several pieces still missing and Darnold carved apart the Giants’ starting defense. After one incompletion that likely would’ve ruined his whole drive last season early on, Darnold stayed calm and went 4/5 for 68 yards and a score.
He was accurate and confident, that’s a good thing, and in hindsight, that’s all you can really ask for out of a 2nd-year quarterback. Darnold certainly matured and looks ready to take the NFL by storm.
Takeaway #2: The Jets Still Lack Depth
Joe Douglas spent time on the offensive line and with a 7th rounder and 8.4 million dollars, he made the offensive line a damn good one on paper, especially when everyone is healthy. He got depth and key pieces.
Now it’s time for him to do that elsewhere. At Corner, it looked most obvious. Parry Nickerson and Kyron Brown got beat pitifully at the cost of big plays. Nickerson, who is known for his speed couldn’t hang and Kyron Brown, who I spoke highly of recently both seemed primed to impress.
Instead, they along with others exposed the need for cornerback depth. Then, Chandler Catanzaro starts missing PATs and it became apparent he needs competition to either take his spot or at the very least challenge for it.
Then even at other spots, the depth looked weak. The Jets need to be great top to bottom, that includes depth players.
Takeaway #3: Some Young Guys Shine, Others Disappoint
Greg Dortch played very well at both receiver and as a returner as he continues to fight for a roster spot. Dortch was an underrated guy coming out of the draft and could do big things this season and his performance tonight is just the start.
Blake Cashman looked great despite a few errors. The young linebacker continues to provide versatility being a special teams threat and being the presumable third linebacker behind Williamson and Mosley. Expect Cashman to contribute more than initially expected.
Another young linebacker who shined was Frankie Luvu. He and Cashman forced a fumble and Luvu continued to play with his heart on his sleeve. He has a “never say die” attitude and plays with a great motor. That kind of player is perfect for a Gregg Williams defense. Williams will have Cashman and Luvu in his back pocket and both could be good pieces for the defense this season.
Nathan Shepherd and Jachai Polite were quite disappointing to me. Both guys were quiet and didn’t do much. The Jets could significantly see an impact if both of them got it together and become key assets.
Overall the Jets impressed me but also showed some spots that still needed work. With CB and Kicker being two spots that immediately come to mind. The game also gave me confidence for what’s to come based on the success of the first team. More analysis will come but the opening results were encouraging.