The 2021 NFL season has officially begun, and with it, the New York Jets preseason opener against cross-town New York Giants. Its somewhat of a tradition, one that was taken away in 2020 with the preseason being cancelled.
However, with the 2021 preseason on, everyone got to see some of the rookies lighting up training camp and new offseason additions. Robert Saleh got to see the fans he has heard so much about. That being said, here are three takeaways from the New York Jets preseason opener.
The Defensive Line is DEEP
Quinnen Williams is probably the best player on the team already, but he won’t see the field until this upcoming week. He hasn’t taken part in any of training camp, recovering from an offseason foot surgery. And yet, despite this, the Jets racked up five sacks on Saturday night. Carl Lawson and other starters barely played, and their backups did not disappoint.
Bryce Huff found himself carrying over a great camp into this game, finishing with two sacks. The 2021 6th round pick Jonathan Marshall and undrafted free agent Hamilcar Rashed Jr. finished with a sack and 1.5 sacks respectively. Michael Dwumfour found himself in the backfield often, adding 0.5 sacks. Overall, this is a very deep group, one that has immense talent from top to bottom.
Zach Wilson was easily the most watched player on the field, and he played pretty well. He finished with a stat line of 6/9 for 63 yards. These stats don’t jump off the page, but he played efficiently, which is a good sign for the rookie. He made plays from the pocket, as well as plays from outside the pocket, and he kept the ball away from players in a different colored jersey.
His top target was Corey Davis, who Wilson has reportedly developed quite the chemistry with. It was on full display, as Wilson targeted Davis four times out of his nine attempted passes. He only completed two of those passes for 18 yards, but it was only one quarter of a preseason game. The pair linked up for a couple of 9-yard gains, and kept the ball moving down the field. Look for them to continue building on this chemistry going into Preseason Week 2.
Don’t Expect Fireworks
The Giants ran 39 plays from scrimmage on Saturday, compared to 86 by the Jets. Mike LaFleur has said that he wants to establish the run with this offense, and ran the ball they did. Out of 86 plays, 40 of those were runs, and they were not very efficient. The team averaged a measly 2.1 yards per carry, quite a stark difference from the San Fransisco 49ers run offense from years past. LaFleur had great success with this offense in San Fransisco, and his teams averaged 4.6 and 4.3 yards per carry in 2019 and 2020.
The Jets will need to work on their run game, and it should improve with the return of Alijah Vera-Tucker, who has been dealing with a Pectoral injury. Doing so will improve the situation for Wilson, and should allow him to throw from play action more. To start the season, don’t expect the Jets to put up 400 yards per game, but fans would surely welcome it.
The Jets came away with a win, but obviously its only the preseason. They scored 12 points, but the starters only played for one quarter. They have some injuries, including electrifying rookie Elijah Moore, and the previously mentioned Vera-Tucker. There were some high points, and there were some low points, but they still played better than the other team. Robert Saleh is off to a 1-0 start in the green and white, and they will look to improve on their record next Saturday at 4:25 pm against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.