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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Jet Times They Are A Changin

The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'
                  -Bob Dylan

Maybe but not guaranteed that all Jet fans will look back and have some our quarterback episodes wiped clean from our memory banks. Vinny Tesavarde rupturing his Achilles tendon in a potential Super Bowl season won’t even be a blip on the screen. And how about if the "what if Chad Pennington never got injured" statement never comes up again. Or how about the Bubby Brister shuffle pass and Mark Sanchez butt fumble? And my worst recurring nightmare I have once a month since '83 when the Jets chose Ken O’Brien over Dan Marino and hearing Jet director of scouting Mike Hickey trying to convince everyone, “O’Brien had better down field vision.” There are more but Friday night Jet fans saw something they haven’t seen in a while. The strength of the team might be the quarterback position. And despite one of the three being 39 years old, three NFL starters maybe on the Jet roster. All day Saturday I kept fielding e-mails and phone calls, “Marty, what do you think we can get for Teddy Bridgewater? A 3rd rounder? a 2nd rounder?” And then there were the Sam calls, “Marty, the Jets have got to start Darnold.” Of course human nature for sports fans always seems to get ahead of itself. The enthusiasm on sports talk radio in the metropolitan area was at a fever pitch the most I heard since Bill Parcells became the Jets head coach in 1997. The 17-0 score over the Atalanta Falcons meant very little in the first exhibition game but listening to Jet fans over the weekend you would have thought they won the first game of their playoff run. Jet fan and radio staple “Ira from Staten Island” made his rounds on the different stations being as positive as usual but somewhat cautious. And going to my local mall on Sunday, the Sam Darnold tee shirts were everywhere.  As I was in line at Modells paying for my sneakers, people were wearing their #14’s right out the door. 
  Yes things seem good but we can’t judge on one exhibition game. The offensive line looked okay at times and when I focused on center Spencer Long, you can see there will be improvement from last year at this position. One of the most impressive things from the Jets was the way their linebackers played. They were filling the gaps quickly and the crisp tackling made by the whole defense was good to see. The Trenton Cannon punt return experiment should end immediately. His ability as a running back is where the Jets should focus on. He looked good there with 40 yards on 11 attempts. Tight end Neal Sterling continues to produce and should be in the mix even when Chris Herndon gets back on the field. Moving forward the next few weeks, I’d like to see more of a pass rush from the the defense as well as more push from the offensive line with some between the tackle runs despite the west coast offense dictating a lot of outside runs. Exhibition games are for individual performances and this is what the coaches focus on hoping the team comes out injury free.
  With all the positives, the quarterback play dominated everything. Teddy Bridgewater was 7-8 for 85 yards with one TD pass. Sam Darnold was 13-18 for 96 yards and one TD pass. Both players looked smooth and one can only be happy for Teddy Bridgewater who almost lost a leg and now he is back in an NFL. More on Sam below. The exhibition games have actually picked up steam with the competition at quarterback. It is too early to make trades or decide who the starter will be. Jet fans should enjoy the summer and watch every play by every QB. The times may be changing.

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More About Sam
From Marty Schupak
Sam Darnold showed well with the two biggest traits I like in a QB: down field vision and pocket awareness to pressure. He looked comfortable rolling out but he has got to be aware that some of the NFL defensive ends and edge pass rushers are incredibly quick. And until I see him thread the needle on a long TD bomb (Robby Anderson wanted) will I be completely satisfied. Jet fans have to be happy with what they have seen so far. If in fact it is true that the Jet hierarchy is giving him a chance to start the season, he must start the next two games to recognize the speed he will be playing against. 

From Ray Clifford
Sam Darnold had an excellent first outing in his first NFL game. Very good pocket awareness, did not stare down receivers, good mobility and seemed to have good command of the offense. That being said, it was game one of the preseason and you won't see schemes this vanilla or talent level this low again the rest of the season. Wasn't thrilled they kept him in the whole second half. Don't want our prized draft pick protected by guys who may never be in the NFL again by next week. I don't get overly excited when someone plays well in these games, but I DO get concerned if they play poorly. He definitely passed his first test, no pun intended.

From Ralph Sharaga
Darnold showed all the traits he displayed at USC. Confidence, command, poise, mobility inside and outside the pocket, good feel for the rush and accuracy on the run.  Definitely a quick study. That being said, passes were mainly underneath. Sure we’ll see more downfield stuff as the weeks go by. Tried to squeeze in a couple of sideline passes where the receiver was not open. Had a tendency to do this at USC. Will need to become more selective. My biggest criticism is in regards to a comment he made after the game. He said it might be easier to read defenses in the pros because the hash marks are closer. Now, I’m a big Sam fan and I think he’s going to be a star. BUT this is pre season and he was a throwing against back ups. He ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Final thought:  Bowles is in an awkward position. For the rest of the pre season which QB does he throw out with the 3rd stringers (Remember when Sanchez got hurt in the 4th quarter)? He doesn’t have a Hack, Petty or McElroy, to use as a sacrificial lamb. Might actually have to be McCown!


What The Jet Scribes Are Saying
Rich Cimini, ESPN
Ten observations from the press box after the Jets' 17-0 win over the Falcons:
1. Sam Darnold passed his first test. Playing against the Falcons' backups, the rookie QB was composed under the bright lights (and half-empty stadium). The best thing he did was something we've seen all summer: He threw really well on the run, especially on his 14-yard TD pass to Charles Johnson. That's a great quality for a rookie QB. He never panicked when the pocket collapsed. Basically, he was the anti-Hackenberg.
2. As Bill Parcells would say, let's hold off on the anointing oils. I'd say Darnold is trending toward the starting job, but he hasn't earned it yet. Let's see how he does with the starters and against a first-string defense. Todd Bowles should give him that shot next week in Washington.
3. You have to feel good for Teddy Bridgewater, who saw his first extensive action in two years. He played really well in two series, leading the offense to 10 points. His best throw was a 21-yard strike to Neal Sterling on a seam route. He has to be considered a legit candidate for the starting job. if nothing else, he raised his trade value.
4. This, of course, doesn't bode well for incumbent Josh McCown. At this point, I see him as a fallback option for the Jets. If Bridgewater and Darnold continue this way, McCown will begin the season on the bench.
5. Strong effort by the defense. Yes, Matt Ryan barely played (one pass), but a shutout is a shutout. Bet you didn't know it was the first home shutout in Jets preseason history. I certainly didn't know that until late in the game. We saw history!
6. Rookie RB Trent Cannon muffed two punts. They won't pull the plug on him yet, but it's hard to imagine him returning punts for the Jets on opening day in Detroit. He showed some giddy-up as a running back, but one of the reasons he was drafted was to return punts.
7. Second-year WRs Chad Hansen and ArDarius Stewart didn't get in until the second half. They've had quiet camps and it appears that neither will crack the receiver rotation.
8. Sleeper of the night: LB Neville Hewitt is quietly having a solid camp, and he backed it up with a good game -- a team-high eight tackles, one INT and two pass break ups. For a change, the Jets have good depth at inside linebacker.
9. Rookie defensive linemen Nathan Shepherd and Foley Fatukasi (strip sack) made a couple of flash plays. On Atlanta's first series, Shepherd shed a block and moved really well laterally to make the tackle.
10. We saw some staples of the Jeremy Bates offense. Lots of outside zone running (stretch plays), lots of quarterback bootlegs and a heavy dose of play action.
                                        See Sam Pass! See Sam Run! See Sam Win!
                                                                  Is there a better gift this year?               

Manish Mehta, NY Daily News
Darnold was far from perfect, but he exhibited some of the traits that had the Jets privately giddy about the kid’s public unveiling. “I was pumped to be out there,” the rookie said.
Darnold was the sketch of cool in his first NFL game, showing poise and command to state an early case that he should indeed be the starting quarterback for Week 1 of the regular season next month. He went 9 for 11 for 74 yards, 1 TD, a 125.0 passer rating in two drives in the first half before playing with third-stringers on five drives after intermission. Darnold, who wore a glove on his left hand after getting spiked on his five-yard scramble in the first half, finished 13 for 18 for 96 yards, 1 TD and a 103.0 passer rating. He displayed the gifts that have so many folks on One Jets Drive convinced that they have finally found the answer to their most maddening problem. In his first two drives, we saw the skills that could make Darnold a difference maker for a long time. He exhibited tremendous patience in the pocket, elusiveness in the face of pressure, accuracy throwing on the run, scrambling prowess and sage decision making…..

If Darnold needs more seasoning – and Bridgewater lights it up in the preseason – then Gang Green won’t hesitate to start Bridgewater in the season opener against the Lions, according to sources.
“We’ll see how the preseason goes,” Bowles said about his looming quarterback decision. “I’m not going to jump to any conclusions after one game. I’ll take my notes and watch practice and compare with the coaches and we’ll come up with a decision. But it’s a tough decision. We have three good players. And we’re happy to have them.” Bridgewater sure looked like an NFL starter in his Jets debut. So did the rookie.
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Brian Costello, NY Post
The Sam Darnold Hype Train gained plenty of momentum on Friday night. The Jets rookie quarterback impressed in his preseason debut, throwing a touchdown pass in a 17-0 win over the Falcons at MetLife Stadium. You can’t put him in the Hall of Fame just yet, but Darnold showed enough to have Jets fans salivating. He completed 13-of-18 for 96 yards and the one score, but it was more about the qualities he showed than the stats he put up…..
The mobility, arm strength and poise that separated Darnold at USC were on display against the Atlanta backups. There was nothing that indicated the game was too big for Darnold and he made plays that rookies usually do not. He looked like he belonged…..
Clearly, Darnold is making his case to be the starter when the season opens Sept. 10 against the Lions. He has passed every test put in front of him so far. All three quarterbacks — Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater and Darnold — are NFL starters. Bowles is going to have to choose one.

   At just about publishing time this came through from today's Jets-Redskins scrimmage           

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Around The AFC East
New England Patriots
…..Quarterback Tom Brady was held out of Thursday’s preseason game, but the back injury that bothered him does not sound significant. According to Ian Rapoport of, Brady’s sore back is “pretty minor” and there is little concern about him going forward…..From Kelsie Foreman: For the last few seasons, the defense has always been listed as an area to improve for the Patriots. Judging by the performance they put on Thursday, it’s still an area needing improvement. Though Thursday’s starting lineup was as close to what it will be during the regular season (they were missing two regular-season starters, Trey Flowers and Devin McCourty); they didn’t play like starters. The first defensive series went off without a hitch, but during the second, things started to fall apart. After Kyle Van Noy gave up a really rough touchdown to Byron Marshall, one thing became clear: pass coverage is still a problem…..If there’s one player that came out hot and running, it’s new running back, Jeremy Hill. While Mike Gillislee was the player who earned the starting spot on Thursday’s game at running back, it appears that Hill did more for the Patriots during his time on the field. Hill ended the game with 11 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter. Hill, who was signed as a veteran free agent over the offseason, will likely be competing with Gillislee for a starting spot, or at least one as a second stringer. Gillislee ended the game with 43 yards and 14 carries, an unimpressive night for him…..In two halves of football, the Patriot’s offensive line played surprisingly well, only allowing one sack during the entire game. The offensive line had an impressive showing, and it’s only expected to get better as the season progresses. For the first time in a long time, the offensive line has experience: and that makes the Patriots even more of an offensive threat. Fans can expect the first-round pick, Isaiah Wynn, to make an appearance soon, which will undoubtedly help the Pats reach offensive-line dominance.

Buffalo Bills
…..At the start of the second half, Josh Allen made his long-awaited debut in a Bills uniform. Working with the third team offense, he performed as expected, treating the crowd to every facet of the “Josh Allen Experience.” Most notably, fans were in awe of his effortless flick-of-the-wrist deep balls, one of which sailed beautifully through the hands of Robert Foster for what would have been a sure touchdown. Of course there were moments of spotty accuracy as the Wyoming product went 9/19 on the evening. Allen’s late touchdown pass was a 14-yard laser that had the touch and accuracy of an NFL veteran. There is still quite a bit of work to do and given Peterman and McCarron’s respective performances, Allen is still probably the third-string quarterback for now, but if he can clean up some of his mistakes, he could see first-team reps before the preseason is over. Despite an underwhelming stat line, he fared admirably behind a shaky assortment of backup offensive linemen (sound familiar?). There is no question about his elite physical gifts including an absolute rocket of an arm. If he can improve on his ability to read the field and hit the short-to-medium range routes in stride, he could prove a lot of doubters (myself included) wrong.….The Bills traded for former first-round wideout Corey Coleman and Joe Buscaglia of believes the receiver could have an immediate impact on his new team. The writer points out that Kelvin Benjamin and Jeremy Kerley are the only two players locked in at the top of the Bills depth chart, and this was emphasized when the coaching staff add recently-recovered Andre Holmes to the first team during camp (Zay Jones has since recovered from his injury, as well). At the very least, Coleman will provide the Bills with unmatched speed, a skill set that the team’s fellow receivers are lacking…..Bills receiver Zay Jones has been activated off the active/non-football injury list, but was wearing a red contact jersey during his first day back at practice, tweets Joe Buscaglia of WKBW. Jones underwent knee surgery in May and missed Buffalo’s offseason program, but the club has expressed hope that Jones — who was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft — will be ready for the regular season. After an offseason which included not only an operation but a bizarre arrest, the Bills have been adamant that Jones won’t be handed a starting spot…..The Bills‘ new look offensive line is long on experience but may be short on talent, Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle writes. The Bills are coming into 2018 without Cordy Glenn, Eric Wood, and Richie Incognito, three players who have started a combined 347 games and made five Pro Bowls. Of the Bills’ current 15 linemen, they have zero Pro Bowlers or even players that have been considered for a Pro Bowl.

Miami Dolphins
…..…..From Finatics:The Dolphins opened pre season in Miami this past Thursday night.   The second, third and forth teams grinded it out to the end, but could not close the deal, and ended losing; Buccaneers 26, Dolphins 24.  But..  There were some shining lights despite the lost. One of the shining light - Tannehill looked great on the first drive.  It was his first time starting for the Dolphins since December 2016.  But, it looked like he hadn't missed a beat.  The first team offense for the Dolphins is what I have to hope for Miami for the rest of the 2018 season.  Tannehill looked GREAT.  He was on target for virtually every throw going 4 for 6.   He threw the ball like he is throwing a rocket propelled football. The other shining light in the game on offense was RB Kallen Ballage.  Ballage played second team offense, but really 3rd since Frank Gore did not start.  Ballage had a great night going 37 yards on 10 attempts with a long run of 14 yards.  He also had a decent night receiving going 3 for 23 yards.  Only low point with Ballage is the one hurdling fumble.  But...  what a great attempt. On defense, the night in my opinion went to our number one draft choice - Minkah Fitzpatrick.  Minkah had shown some great coverage and proved his worthiness of a number one draft choice…General Manager Chris Grier, went back to Columbus, Ohio, to try and bring in more talent to the linebacking corp, and he might have hit the jackpot with Jerome Baker.
The second level is so key to a defense because it’s the last level before getting to your defensive backs, which in today’s football pretty much aren’t paid to tackle, especially with the new helmet rules that are in effect. From covering running backs out of the backfield, to covering the middle of the field from short to intermediate routes, and of course defending tight-ends from going down the seam. Most importantly being the heart and soul of a defense by making those crucial tackles that energize a team, as well as getting an offense off the field on 3rd down. Jerome Baker is the prototypical new-age linebacker (6’1 225 lbs) who is not the biggest but plays with so much athleticism and speed (4.5 40) that keeps him in position to make plays all over the field especially the types I mentioned before. In his first preseason game he got action with the first team defense in the Nickel Package, tallied 5 total tackles, one of which was a tackle for loss. Scary part is he should have had two TFL’s but was unable to wrap up the ball carrier that eventually got tackled at the line of scrimmage…..South Florida police unions are urging their members to not buy Miami Dolphins tickets or seek a refund because several players had protested during the national anthem before the preseason opener.

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