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NFL New York Jets

5 Takeaways from New York Jets’ First Preseason Game

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Takeaways from New York Jets' First Preseason Game

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets were defeated by the Detroit Lions 26-17 in their first preseason game. There were some good and some bad performances, which is to be expected of the team’s first real action since last season. It’s a preseason game, and individual performances are more important than wins or losses at this stage.

The quarterbacks were obviously the focal point of this game, and they delivered mixed performances. Neither Mark Sanchez nor Geno Smith did much of anything to separate themselves in the QB competition, which actually works in Sanchez’s favor.

The rest of the offense looked to be very much a work in progress, which is not surprising considering they are installing a new scheme and have several new starters. Continuing to figure out who will be the key contributors will be an ongoing process for the coaching staff. Look for an offense that has more rhythm next week, as time will help the team gel.

On the defensive side of the ball, there were ups and downs as the Jets break in seven new starters. Most of these players are young and inexperienced, and it showed in various places throughout the game. There were some flashes from players such as Dee Milliner, Quinton Coples and Kenrick Ellis, and if they can perform consistently the Jets’ defense will be in very good shape.

This is a preseason game, which means it is a learning experience for the players. Young guys are trying to prove themselves, veterans are trying to find their rhythm and everyone is learning new schemes. This loss doesn’t indicate much of anything for the Jets’ overall season, but these are five things we learned that will greatly impact individual players and position battles.

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Run Game Disaster

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

There is no way to sugarcoat this: the run game was an absolute disaster last night. With Chris Ivory, Mike Goodson and Joe McKnight out for a variety of reasons, Bilal Powell took over the lead role and gained a pathetic 14 yards on 9 carries. Overall, the team managed just 37 yards on 16 carries by four different running backs.

It would not be fair to blame the running backs for all of these issues, however. The offensive line was very unimpressive. Willie Colon and Oday Aboushi dealt with penalty issues that were drive-killers. Stephen Peterman in particular was very poor, and he let his man get to Powell in the backfield on more than one occasion. There is a very good chance Brian Winters starts over Peterman next game.

The Jets should get Ivory back on Monday and McKnight shortly thereafter, adding a much needed boost to the backfield. John Griffin went down with an injury, leaving the team even more short-handed at running back. Improved blocking next week and a solid performance from Ivory will be very important.

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Safety Situation Remains Unsettled

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Antonio Allen got the start at free safety, but you wouldn’t even know he was on the field. Allen only recorded one tackle and didn’t do anything to speak of in pass coverage. He didn’t make mistakes, but he didn’t impact the game either.

Josh Bush and Jaiquawn Jarrett got more involved in the game, recording six and five tackles respectively. Bush in particular looked effective chasing down receivers and backs who had managed to turn the corner. Neither player was tested too often in coverage, so their abilities in that aspect of the game remain a question mark.

I expect Jarrett to start next week, as he has been impressive in camp and significantly outplayed Allen tonight. A strong game from Jarrett could earn him the starting free safety role.

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Signs of Life from the Pass Rush

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets’ ability to get after the quarterback was the biggest question mark on the defense heading into the game, and they managed to alleviate those concerns somewhat. Muhammad Wilkerson recorded a sack, and he will be expected to be a dominant force for the team this season.

Quinton Coples was credited with a sack, but it should be noted that Antwan Barnes did all the work on the play. Coples merely tagged quarterback Shaun Hill after Barnes forced him into an offensive lineman and into the ground. While that play was positive, Barnes was also called for two offsides penalties, and he will have to improve his timing.

On the second unit, Ricky Sapp was able to create pressure on a few occasions, and he could make a strong push for a bigger role on the defense. Garrett McIntyre picked up a knee injury of unknown severity, and any extended absence from him would put even more pressure on Sapp to step up.

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Potential Playmakers Emerge

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The receivers were considered to be the weak link of the team, but they were a pleasant surprise in this game. Clyde Gates and Ben Obamanu stood out in particular, and both were able to get open down the field and create plays.

At tight end, both Kellen Winslow and Jeff Cumberland showed an ability to stretch the field, and Cumberland hauled in a 26 yard touchdown from Sanchez on a deep seam route. Winslow showed some speed after the catch, and he took a shot to the knee and bounced right back up, which is a very encouraging sign for his health.

On the downside, Stephen Hill was very quiet, and he never looked like a downfield threat. This must change going forward. Also, the Jets need to get Jeremy Kerley the ball more often. I know it is just preseason, but he showed his after the catch abilities, and he is by far the team’s best playmaker.

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Quarterbacks Keep Status Quo

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The quarterback battle got off to a horrible start when Sanchez threw a pick-six on the first drive. It was a busted screen play, and Sanchez made a very poor decision to force the ball. These are the types of decisions that have plagued him throughout his career. However, he settled down nicely after that, and he looked very good on the Jets’ first touchdown drive, finishing with a beautiful over the shoulder throw to Cumberland for the score. Sanchez remains a roller coaster, and he didn’t do anything to change the staff’s opinion of him one way or the other.

Smith came in on the fourth offensive series and frankly, he looked like a rookie. The Jets called short passes and set him up for easy completions. 6/7 may look nice in the stats, but it was not at all impressive on the field. Smith was unsettled in the pocket, and he locked onto receivers too often. He was not comfortable sliding in the pocket, setting his feet and stepping into his throws. These are rookie mistakes, and he will get more comfortable with more reps.

Unfortunately, Smith picked up an ankle injury in the third quarter that took him out of the game. He is reportedly fine, as x-rays came back negative and he didn’t even need a walking boot. However, this is certainly a bit of a scare for the Jets.

After tonight, Sanchez remains on track to start Week 1. Smith needs to impress to win the job, and if he is forced to miss any significant time, this battle could be over quickly. Unless Smith has a big game next week, Sanchez will be the Week 1 starter.

Greg Sulik is a New York Jets writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @GregSulik or add him to your network on Google