The New York Jets opened up their 2019 season with a 31-22 exhibition loss to their intra-stadium rivals, the New York Giants. Of course, these games are less about the performance of the team and more about what is shown by individuals.
Let’s dig into some of the top positives and negatives from the Jets in their first contest of 2019.
UP: The starting offense
The Jets made a lot of additions to their offense over the past few months that have raised the bar of what fans are expecting to see out of the unit. In their first appearance under the lights, the new-look attack was firing on all cylinders, scoring a touchdown on its first and only drive of the night.
Gang Green was without center Ryan Kalil and running back Le’Veon Bell in its first action of the year, but a couple of other new acquisitions stood out.
Wide receiver Jamison Crowder has been forging a connection with Sam Darnold throughout training camp, and flashes of their budding chemistry were on display against the Giants. On one first down play, Darnold was under pressure and didn’t see an available option down the field. Then, Crowder freed himself up from the zone coverage, cutting outside to give Darnold a window. Darnold placed the ball perfectly to allow Crowder to cut upfield, and the former Redskin gained 28 yards on his first reception with the Jets.
A few plays later, head coach Adam Gase drew up a pick play for Crowder, and he took advantage. Crowder ran the flat route to the front right pylon and hauled in a three-yard touchdown from Darnold.
Left guard Kelechi Osemele, acquired via trade from the Raiders, also stood out in his Jets debut. He looked fresh and healthy, imposing his dominance on the Giants defense early and often. On the first play of the game, Osemele assisted center Jonotthan Harrison with removing the nose tackle away from the point of attack, and then hit the second level to plow over two Giants defenders.
A few plays later, Osemele had nobody to block, and realized left tackle Kelvin Beachum needed some help in pass protection. Osemele darted over to his left and obliterated the pass rusher that was trying to evade Beachum, giving Darnold time to step up and launch a 32-yard bomb to Chris Herndon.
It was just one drive, but you could not have asked for much more out of the Jets offense last night.
DOWN: Trenton Cannon
It was a rough night for former Virginia State speedster Trenton Cannon. He is competing at a number of positions, including running back, kick returner, and the punt coverage team.
As usual with Cannon, there were flashes of brilliance, but more signs of concern. In the punt coverage game, Cannon made one very impressive tackle, but followed it up with a bad whiff on the next punt.
Balance was a constant issue for Cannon against the Giants. In the run game, Cannon averaged only 2.2 yards across his nine carries. Of course, playing behind a backup offensive line will hurt that number, but Cannon had one play in particular where he stumbled on a carry up the middle, possibly losing a few yards or more.
As a kick returner, Cannon botched his first return, as he stumbled his way into a measly 12-yard return.
Cannon has a ton of potential, but he still has yet to truly tap into it.
UP: Frankie Luvu
The second-year backup outside linebacker had a tremendous season-opener. Luvu was in on a total of five tackles that limited the opponent to a gain of three yards or less. That’s a total better than the average per game posted by 2018’s leaders (4.0, by Raekwon McMillan and Damon Harrison).
He was stout in run defense, shooting gaps with authority and soundly finishing his tackles. On one play, Luvu came in from behind the ball-carrier and knocked the ball out, leading to a Jets takeaway.
Great start for Luvu as he aims to seize a role on the Jets defense.
DOWN: Chandler Catanzaro
The Jets kicker has been struggling throughout camp, and those struggles persisted against the Giants. Catanzaro missed two extra points, squandering an opportunity to take control of his one-man competition.
General Manager Joe Douglas will likely spend the upcoming days on the phone scanning the market for available kickers. Whether it be a cheap trade target like Ravens stud Kaare Vedvik, or a veteran free agent like former Falcon Matt Bryant, Douglas certainly needs to be looking to upgrade this position.
Catanzaro – who missed more kicks than anybody else in the league over the last three years – is not playing well enough to warrant a free path to the starting kicking job. He needs competition, and Douglas needs to go find it as soon as possible.
UP: Chuma Edoga
The Jets’ rookie offensive lineman, selected in the third round of April’s Draft, spent some time at both left tackle and right tackle in his NFL debut. He looked impressive at both spots, especially in pass protection. The 22-year old USC product showcased quick feet into his kickslide and flashed active hands, doing a nice job getting his arms into the chest of pass rushers to fend them off.
Edoga has work to do on his power in the run game, and overall the youngster still can improve his game from a technique standpoint. However, he flashed a lot of potential in his debut. With some time to develop, he could grow into a quality player for the Jets offensive line.
DOWN: Parry Nickerson
The Jets secondary had a disastrous night. The starting group was solid in its limited time, but all of the reserve lineups struggled mightily.
Second-year slot man Parry Nickerson was at the root of those struggles. He made mistakes in zone coverage and was consistently beat in man-to-man situations. His biggest slipup was a 51-yard touchdown that he allowed to Giants wide receiver Russell Shepard on a slant route out of the slot.
Nickerson bares some similarities to Trenton Cannon. He is really fast, but needs to continue mastering the ability to use that speed to its fullest. Possessing the ability to run at high speeds is great, but it takes a lot of nuance and skill to be able to use speed as a weapon that can make a positive impact on the football field.