Brett Favre’s debut in a New York Jets uniform was muddled by poor, inconsistent play by the rest of the team.
First things first, Brett Favre looked good. Given what the fans got to see of him for 14 plays, Favre made good decisions, made sharp passes, and connected for his first exhibition touchdown as a New York Jet, when he hit Dustin Keller with a four yard bolt.
That’s Brett’s evening in a nutshell.
But the Jets’ problems against the Redskins stemmed from something much more disgusting. Mental errors, terrible decisions, and uninspired performances allowed the Redskins to squeak by with a 13-10 victory in the final minutes of the game.
In film noir fashion, I shall tell the story from the end. This tale is a tragedy, suspenseful at times, it manages to string along the audience with a false sense of hope. For every moment our heroes seem ready to prevail, opportunities slip away until the inevitable demise.
How does Mike Nugent miss a 23-yard field goal? Last week I wrote that he looked to be living up to his potential as the team’s first overall pick in 2005. This week, he looked like the same old Nugget. His missed a 43-yard field goal in the third quarter against the wind. But a 23-yard chip shot that would have sent the game into overtime is inexcusable.
Nugent’s missed field goal was only the final strike in a dying effort. The blade was already sharpened when Eric Mangini decided to send a pre-season game into overtime and disregard an attempt to win the game from inside the five.
A dropped pass by a wide-open Paul Raymond in the end zone likely lost him a roster spot. He looked good on the opening day of training camp, but missing an opportunity to win a game when the Redskins defense blew their coverage is unacceptable.
That final drive didn’t come without its highs. Jason Pociask showed an impressive ability to stay on his feet after taking a short pass another 30 yards. Jesse Chatman showed off his resilience as he broke tackles at the line of scrimmage and scampered for another 17 yards. And sixth-round draft pick, Marcus Henry used his height as he emerged as a legitimate possession receiver, making tough grabs in the middle of the field.
Despite the fight those four men put up against the Redskins defense, it wasn’t enough to battle back from the critical error James Ihedigbo made on the Redskins final drive. Rather than knock the ball down, he went for an interception when there was no safety support behind him. The Redskins’ Jason Goode capitalized on Ihedigbo’s ridiculous attempt, and took the ball 33 yards to the end zone.
I’d like to be brutally honest for a moment. When I say that Brett Ratliff should be the second quarterback on this roster, I want you to know that I mean it. I understand that it’s a far cry from three months ago when I declared my support for Kellen Clemens, but there are differences in their style of play that cannot be denied.
While Clemens struggled out of the snap, Ratliff rolled off pressure and made plays.
Clemens went 5-of-12 with a 63-yard output. His numbers may have been better if his targets hadn’t dropped about four passes. But those errors do not tell the story. While Clemens can’t be blamed for dropped passes, one can’t help but dig into the memory vaults and ask a serious question: is it something about the way Clemens throws the ball?
Some of Clemens poor numbers during his tenure as a starter in 2007 were the result of some usually sure-handed receivers dropping passes. We, as fans, tried to justify it by saying the receivers weren’t accustomed to catching balls with more speed on them, but in our hearts we knew that was a lie. But in a night where Favre zipped passes into the hands of his targets, is that really a justifiable excuse?
Regardless of the drops, Clemens looked like a junior varsity football player, tripping and stumbling into the pocket off the snap. Getting his legs tied up with the lineman twice in one game just doesn’t work for me. I am very disappointed with what I saw from him.
Enough about the quarterbacks. Would I be in the minority if I said Thomas Jones shouldn’t be handed the starting running back job? While he seems content with falling down at the first sign of contact, Leon Washington and Jesse Chatman managed to spin, bounce, and slither between defenders for extra yardage.
I watch Thomas Jones play and I feel like it’s still Kevan Barlow out there. There’s no spark to his runs and no fight. He might be one of the most aggravating players to watch. I’m all for a big back that can wear down a defense, but he doesn’t play like a big back. The Jets might want to abandon the feature back approach and go with a committee this season. Letting Leon Washington and Jesse Chatman watch while Jones stumbles forward for three or four yards won’t cut it anymore.
Defensively, the line played a whole lot better. Jenkins was plugging up the middle and stifling most running plays.
Early in the game, the first defensive unit allowed Ladell Betts to break for 16 yards. Taking advantage of a bad decision by Calvin Pace, Betts slid between the blockers as Pace over-committed.
The defense also let up a massive 73 yard run by the Redskins’ Rock Cartwright. That drive ended with the only good thing James Ihedigbo did the entire evening, when he intercepted the ball in the red zone.
The secondary played fairly well for most of the game, but the defense really stepped it up inside their own 20. They managed to force field goals when touchdowns looked inevitable.
With the Giants’ pre-season game coming up next weekend, the Jets’ have to be better prepared. Some of these guys fighting for roster spots need to step up immediately.
It’s going to be a tough week at practice for the Jets. Mangini’s frustration was obvious. Even if exhibition games don’t count towards the regular season, Mangini preaches clean play. The Jets can’t allow these errors to happen again.
Bumps & Bruises
WR, David Clowney left the game with a shoulder injury. The severity is unknown.