Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jets look good despite 31-16 loss, absence of Revis

Darrelle who? That's the message the Jets defense was looking to send heading into their preseason opener with the Giants, and they were able to do just that.

The Giants managed just 73 total yards on six first-half drives, 67 of those coming on the team's fourth drive of the game that led to a field goal. The Jets brought pressure from all angles and didn't stray from the defensive strategy that served them well last season.

A major reason the Jets were able to keep the pressure on without the presence of Revis was the play of offseason acquisition Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie did his best Revis impression locking down Giants receivers and showed that he's serious about regaining his 2007 Pro Bowl form.

The Jets were able to prove that their defense won't completely fall apart without Revis, although the Giants don't have a true number-one receiver (Hakeem Nicks isn't there yet) who would likely dominate Cromartie. But the way the ex-Charger played last night will only make the Jets defense more dangerous if they can sign Revis.

Offensively, Mark Sanchez was intercepted on his first pass from scrimmage, a far cry from his first pass of last preseason which went for a 50-yard completion. But as Ron Jaworski said on the Monday Night Football broadcast, the second-year quarterback showed great "amnesia" the rest of the way, completing 13-of-16 passes for 119 yards and a short touchdown to Brad Smith.

Sanchez made some nice throws to the sideline, effectively used his eyes to move the Giants safeties away from his intended targets and checked down when nothing was open downfield, using another new acquisition, LaDainian Tomlinson, as a safety valve offensively.

Officially, Tomlinson had one reception for 14 yards on a third-and-13 to give the Jets a first down deep in Giants territory. LT showed good burst after the catch to keep Terrell Thomas at bay and reach the first-down marker. He ran for just 17 yards on 8 carries, but most of the rushing duties this season should go to Shonn Greene.

Greene ran for 26 yards on 5 carries and looked like an absolute bull, dragging tacklers and falling forward into defensive backs who couldn't stand him up, but rather had to catch him to bring him down to the ground. If he doesn't get 20 carries every game compared to 5-10 for Tomlinson, the Jets are crazy. This kid is the future of this backfield and is a younger, quicker, more powerful version of Thomas Jones. If he stays healthy, I'm thinking at least 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The Jets' third big off-season acquisition, receiver Santonio Holmes, also made an impression. He saw lots of snaps since he won't be allowed near the team for the season's first four weeks, but showed the game-breaking ability the Jets haven't had since Santana Moss left.

Braylon Edwards is a great downfield threat who can make plays after the catch, but the stats show he catches less than 50 percent of the passes thrown his way. Holmes and Jerricho Cotchery catch around 60 percent, but Holmes has the big-play ability that Cotchery doesnt. Once he returns from suspension and develops chemistry with Sanchez, he should be the Jets' best receiver. And for only a fifth-round pick? What a steal.

Now I don't care much about the Giants, but Victor Cruz was the UMass rookie to talk about on this night (not Jets' guard Vladimir Ducasse). Cruz had 3 second-half touchdown catches, including one he caught one-handed around a defender. He also made a great play on a fade ball, jumping to grab the ball at its highest point while the defender's momentum took him past Cruz.

This kid deserves more work with the first- and second-team in the coming preseason weeks to see if he deserves a roster spot. He's in great company, as the last receiver to catch 3 touchdowns in a preseason game was potential Hall of Famer Terrell Owens.

And one more quick Giants note. After the game, Brandon Jacobs said their 31-16 victory proved who the kings of New York football were. Last I checked, the Jets won the game when the starters were in and if it weren't for some no-name undrafted rookie named Cruz dominating the Jets' secondary backups, the Giants would not have won.

Jacobs should stop talking and let his play on the field do it for him. Of course, when you run for just 2 yards on 4 carries and need three tries to punch in a touchdown from the one-yard-line, your play doesn't say much of anything. Ahmad Bradshaw showed more on his 51-yard reception than Jacobs did all game, and I think Bradshaw will be the most dynamic running back on the Giants' roster this season, barring good health.

There is still a 16-game season to be played but for now, despite the results of the game, anybody who knows football can see the Jets were the better team on this day (in terms of the players that will actually see the field during the season) without arguably their best player on the field. Jacobs is lucky the Giants won't face the Jets again this season, because I think Bart Scott, David Harris and company would humble him pretty quickly.

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