New York Jets: What We Learned In 32-31 MetLife Bowl Loss 1
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 26: Jason Pierre-Paul #90 of the New York Giants sacks Christian Hackenberg #5 of the New York Jets in the first quarter during a preseason game on August 26, 2017 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The New York Jets taught us a few things in their 32-31 loss to the New York Giants Saturday night. Were any of those lessons positive?

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the New York Jets in their third preseason game. Sheldon Richardson was dominant, consistently getting in Eli Manning‘s face. The team’s top receiver may have emerged from a pool of mediocrity.

But even when things are going well for this team, they somehow end badly. Why? Because apparently, the Jets simply aren’t allowed to have nice things.

What else did we learn? Let’s take a look.

Christian Hackenberg Isn’t Ready

Sure, the Penn State product led the Jets on a late touchdown drive, but the “Hack Attack” looked pretty awful. He completed just 8-of-15 passes for 60 yards while playing the entire first half, tossing a pair of interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.

The first one was all on the 22-year-old. He telegraphed his pass to tight end Eric Tomlinson, which Giants safety Landon Collins jumped in front of for an easy pick-six.

From the time the ball is snapped, Hackenberg never takes his eyes off of Tomlinson. Not once. Collins was going to pick that off before the ball ever left his hand. Had Hackenberg looked anywhere else—even for a half-second—that play probably ends differently.

We can’t blame Hackenberg for the second pick six, however. He completed the pass to Robby Anderson, who promptly got popped by Giants corner Janoris Jenkins. The ball popped out and fellow corner Donte Deayon was simply in the right place at the right time.

In fact, Hackenberg actually showed some poise on this play, completing the pass with his pocket collapsing. Speaking of the guys responsible for that pocket…

The Offensive Line Is…Offensive

Heading into the game, the official word was that no one had a guaranteed job on the O-Line. “Five,” was offensive line coach Steve Marshall’s answer when asked by Zach Braziller of the New York Post how many jobs were still up for grabs.

The unit was consistently overwhelmed by the Giants defense, allowing Hackenberg to get sacked three times and knocked down a lot more.

Multiple linemen got beat on the Giants’ second sack. Ex-Jet Damon Harrison manhandled center Wes Johnson, forcing Hackenberg to move…right into the waiting arms of Jason Pierre-Paul, who had his way with right tackle Brandon Shell.

To be fair, the Giants have one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Jets won’t be facing such a high-octane pass rush on a weekly basis. But unless this group drastically raises the level of its play, it won’t matter who the quarterback is.

Sadly, the offensive line is responsible for knocking the guy who looked the best under center out of the game—and maybe out of action, period.

Bryce Petty Earned The Starting Nod

Would the second-year pro out of Baylor University had as much success against Big Blue’s first-team defense? Probably not.

But his numbers—15-of-18 for 250 yards, three touchdowns and a two-point conversion— were impressive nonetheless. In fact, Petty did something that the Jets haven’t seen in nearly 20 years.

Unfortunately for Petty and the Jets (cue Elton John music), his impressive night was cut short.

Late in the fourth quarter, reserve guard Ben Braden got knocked to the ground and rolled up on Petty’s leg. He immediately crumbled to the field, clutching his knee.While he was able to walk off the field, things didn’t sound good after the game.

Let’s hope it’s nothing serious, but it’d be shocking if the Jets weren’t forced to sign a veteran free agent early next week. I wonder if Lucas is still in playing shape?

ArDarius Stewart: No. 1 Receiver?

Why not? Quincy Enunwa is out for the year, Anderson is maddeningly inconsistent and, while Bilal Powell led the team in receiving Saturday night (four catches, 110 yards, touchdown), the Jets aren’t going to split the tailback out wide.

Stewart caught nearly everything thrown in his direction, finishing the night with five catches for 82 yards and two touchdowns.

He isn’t the biggest guy in the world (5’11”, 204 pounds), but the third-round pick out of the University of Alabama has the hands, speed and athleticism to succeed against bigger defenders.

Muhammed Wilkerson Was Invisible

Did you see him? I only ask because, well, you needed to really pay attention to find him on the field. That’s not a good thing when you’re talking about a 6’4″, 305-pound defensive tackle.

Facing an offensive line that’s only slightly better than his own, Wilkerson was a complete non-factor in the game. He didn’t get on the scoresheet until the Giants’ fifth drive of the game, dropping Orleans Darkwa behind the line of scrimmage for a one-yard loss.

That was his lone contribution. He wasn’t able to disrupt anything the Giants were trying to do—and he was facing a reserve offensive lineman (Brett Jones) most of the night.

It wasn’t that long ago that Wilkerson was someone opposing teams had to gameplan for. But entering year two of the five-year, $86 million deal he signed before last season, those days seem like a distant memory.

Perhaps Wilkerson is content to just show up.

I've been dunked on by Shaq and yelled at by Mickey Mantle. ESNY Editor In Chief. UMass alum. Former National Columnist w/Bleacher Report & former member of NY Knicks Basketball Ops department. Nephew of Rock & Roll Royalty.