The New York Jets’ first scrimmage of training camp was not pretty. The starters on both sides of the ball looked overwhelmed and unprepared.
Wednesday, the New York Jets held their first scrimmage of training camp. To say it was disappointing would be an understatement.
The Jets sent their starters against the backups, and lost 20-0. The offense turned the ball over three times, the defense allowed 20 points, the defense bullied the offensive line, and Sam Darnold was sacked multiple times.
It was a sloppy display that showed this team has a long way to go before Week 1, and not much time. The Jets are set to play the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 13, and they don’t seem ready.
The first-team offense couldn’t get anything going against the backups. They had six drives, put up zero points, and turned the ball over three times. Sam Darnold threw an interception, and Jamison Crowder and Chris Hogan fumbled.
Darnold was sacked three times in what amounts to one half of a game’s worth of drives. The first team running game wasn’t much better. Frank Gore ripped off a few good runs, but it was La’Mical Perine who really shined.
Perine started the day with the second team. He made the play of the day when he took a handoff 79 yards for a touchdown against the starting defense. After that, he took reps with the first-team offense. On his first touch with the starters, he ripped off a 36-yard run.
He wasn’t the only impressive player on the second team. Both Mike White and James Morgan had good drives with the backups. White has had an excellent camp and looks like the favorite to win the backup quarterback job over David Fales.
Meanwhile, Morgan is starting to settle in. He had a rough start to camp, but he’s come on in the last few practices. The scrimmage was no different. He had the only passing touchdown of the day, a one-yard pass to Braxton Berrios after the Darnold interception.
Berrios also impressed. He was the leading receiver for the backups. He made catch after catch, standing out on every drive. He’s set to be the team’s backup slot wide receiver and punt returner, but if he continues to dominate at the level he did during the scrimmage, he may force the Jets’ hand.
The biggest disappointments were the Jets starting receivers. Hogan, Crowder, and Jeff Smith all struggled. If it wasn’t for Chris Herndon, it’s hard to see how the offense would have moved the ball at all.
Of course, the offensive line continued to struggle. Aside from the strong run here and there, there wasn’t much push from the line. They were abysmal in the passing game.
The defense didn’t perform much better. The starters gave up points of four of the five drives by the backups. The one drive the backups didn’t score, they opted for a punt instead of a 55-yard field goal. In a game situation it’s very possible the outcome there is different.
White, Morgan, and Fales all picked apart the defense. The corners were helpless to stop Berrios and Jehu Chesson. Perine tore apart the run defense.
Maybe the most upsetting part is that the defensive line wasn’t getting any push against the backup offensive line. Quinnen Williams, Henry Anderson, and Steve McLendon all struggled. It was an all-around awful performance.
However, the second team had a much better experience. The standout was rookie safety Ashtyn Davis who picked off Darnold. Davis nearly ran it back for a pick-six, but stepped out of bounds before he could get there. The corners also forced two fumbles from Crowder and Hogan.
Three turnovers and three sacks is quite the half of football from the Jets backup defense.
The New York Jets have had special teams problems the last couple of years. That’s carried over to training camp, where the kicking competition is still a question mark. However, the special teams unit came to play on Wednesday.
Brett Maher hit a 27-yard field goal and Sam Ficken hit a 40-yard field goal. The real star was rookie Braden Mann. The punter had a ton of work and shined. He pinned opponents deep, had fantastic hang time, and controlled his booming leg.
Ashtyn Davis was charged with returning kicks with Vyncint Smith out. It’s a role he’s familiar with from his time at Cal, but not one he excelled at. He’s getting the chance to win that job now, and he looked good in the scrimmage.
Davis didn’t have any long returns, but he wasn’t a liability as a returner. That seems to be what the Jets look for on special teams. Guys they can get consistently average or above-average performance from. They seem to prefer that stability to the potential big-play threat who could blow up in their face.