Jesse Chatman played like a monster against the Philadelphia Eagles. With 180 yards of total offense on his legs, the Jets battled with the Eagles for the lead until his fourth-quarter touchdown put the team on top for a 27-20 victory.
Chatman used his stocky frame and low-center of gravity to fight for yardage and keep plays alive all night. An exceptional receiving threat, he caught screen passes and took dump-off routes for first downs on long-yardage situations. At 5’8″ and 225-lbs, Chatman’s best play came on a 3rd-and-15 situation, where he took a delayed handoff and converted it for a first down.
To call him the offense’s workhorse would be an understatement. Some fans didn’t expect much from Chatman when he was signed away from the Miami Dolphins this offseason. But Chatman has certainly proved his worth, showing some very good elusiveness and a never-quit motor to fight for those tough yards.
However, it wasn’t all power football and impressive play for the entire evening.
With all of the projected starters having the night off, it was time for the men fighting for roster spots to show what they can do. And some of these players didn’t make the strongest case for themselves with final cuts approaching on Aug. 30.
The defensive backups were shredded by Kevin Kolb. The blitz packages that worked against the Giants must have been abandoned for this outing. Outside of Marques Murrell’s pressure, Kolb did not look threatened at any point during his evening. He had plenty of time to deliver precise passes to his receivers.
The defense did play better in the second half, with Abram Elam and Hank Poteat recording crucial interceptions. David Barrett was also on the field for a lot of the night, but you probably didn’t notice unless you were looking for him.
Ahmad Carroll continued to be inconsistent. He played a pass to the end zone very well in the first quarter, but was caught out of position later on when he allowed a play to go for 54 yards and end inside the five.
If the decision really is going to be between Carroll and Barrett, then fans should expect to see Carroll still on the roster come Aug. 31st. He showed good speed on special teams, which will allow him to contribute positively in an area where Barrett cannot.
Curiously, the coaching staff experimented with Chansi Stuckey at defensive back throughout the night. It’s a questionable decision, as some fans and analysts expect Stuckey to push for the third-receiver spot throughout the season. Risking injury to see if he can tackle and cover receivers was a bit reckless. The Jets’ love versatility, but at what cost?
While Philadelphia moved the ball at will throughout the first quarter, the Jets’ first few drives were suffocated by a swooping Eagles’ defense.
Depth at the offensive line has to be somewhat of a concern, as no player managed to look remotely impressive. Jacob Bender, a seventh-round project from the Jets’ 2007 draft was slow off the snap and allowed far too much pressure for a guy entering his second season in the system.
With the selection of Nate Garner in the 2008 draft, the Jets may want to consider dismissing one of their offensive experiments.
Brett Ratliff continues to impress. He spun out from pressure and used his feet to break down solid coverage and hit Paul Raymond with a beautiful strike in the back of the end zone.
After the first training camp, I wrote that I believed Ratliff performed better than the two veterans embroiled in the quarterback controversy. Hypothetically speaking, if that battle continued throughout preseason, and Ratliff still had his opportunities, should he be considered for the starting job?
Paul Raymond’s touchdown grab, and 20-plus-yard reverse, may have been enough to help fans forget about his drop in the end zone against the Washington Redskins two weeks ago, but is it enough to earn a roster spot?
Sixth-round draft pick Marcus Henry also made some excellent grabs and took them for extra yardage. It may be a three-way battle for a final WR spot between Raymond, Henry, and Wallace Wright. All three players bring different skills to the table, so it’s going to be an unfortunate situation when the team determines who will be the odd-men out.
The Tennessee Volunteer, Erik Ainge, finally received his opportunity to throw the ball. Looking like Chad Pennington grew a few inches, most of Ainge’s passes lacked velocity and relied too much on timing and touch.
A costly penalty for the Eagles negated an interception from a weak, off-target throw by Ainge. Aside from that, he showed a heavy dependency on dump-off routes and didn’t make quick decisions.
Fortunately, the game did look like it slowed down for him as he continued. Good things eventually happened when Ainge found David Ball from nine yards out to give the Jets their first lead of the game.
Ratliff has to be the clear favorite to make the roster, but it would be a rash decision to release Erik Ainge, or even subject him to the practice squad. Ainge did have offseason surgery on his finger, so perhaps the team could justify placing him on injured reserve to ensure that he remains a Jet while he continues to learn.
The final preseason game may have been a glorified scrimmage, but it is satisfying to come away with a win. It may be insignificant and won’t impact the regular season at all, but we all know that the young guys really appreciate these wins.
Sept. 7 couldn’t take any longer to get here! Just start the season!