Jets vs. Panthers Review: What We Learned
The New York Jets took on the Carolina Panthers on Sunday Night Football, and almost prevailed with a late comeback by backup quarterback Tim Tebow. Unfortunately, a magical 4th quarter win wouldn’t mean anything in the preseason, and even worse, it didn’t happen, as the Panthers won both team’s third meaningless game, 17-12.
From how Tebow fared to Cam Newton, check out the top things we all should have learned from this preseason contest:
1. The Jets Offense Stinks
There’s no easy or nice way to put it. Whether it’s Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow under center, the Jets just can’t punch the ball in the end-zone. They do seem to move the ball decently at times, but their flow is never consistent, and they have yet to score a single touchdown in the preseason thus far. That may not change next week, as both Tebow and Sanchez are expected to sit the preseason finale out in preparation for week one against the Buffalo Bills.
2. Jonathan Stewart Carted Off
It turns out the x-rays on Stewart’s injury are negative and he should be fine, but anytime a star player is carted off the field, you get worried. Stewart looked solid, but fantasy owners may start questioning his durability with two injuries in two straight preseason games. With both DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert in the backfield, the Panthers may protect their investment when future injuries happen. Stewart is still the Panthers’ running back to own, but this raises a red flag.
3. Stephen Hill Shows Potential
Hill is obviously still raw as heck, as he dropped an easy pass that led to a Mark Sanchez interception, but he also paced the Jets in receiving with five receptions for 68 yards, and looked good on several plays. He left the game with a hip injury on his final reception, but walked off his own power and appeared fine.
4. LaRon Landry Could be a Force
While the Jets’ offensive might be in trouble, their defense looks as stout as ever. They held the first-team Carolina offense in check for most of the first half, and delivered several big hits. Landry was in on a few of them, and displayed solid speed and awareness in the secondary. We already knew New York had an elite secondary, but safety was a problem area in 2011, and was very much in question heading into the preseason this year. Landry and fellow safety Yeremiah Bell have quietly done an admirable job in the back of the defense so far. If they can both stay healthy, they could be a huge part in the Jets’ defensive resurgence in 2012.
5. Tim Tebow, Duh
We know the offense was bad for the Jets, but we have to talk about Tebow specifically. Not sure why, but it just always feels right. Firstly, I personally never think his numbers are quite as bad as they appear. He never really ran a passing offense that catered to his strengths in Denver, and he’s still not doing it in New York with the Jets. He’s as good as ever as a runner and he keeps plays alive when the pocket breaks down, but he hasn’t made much progress as a pocket passer. Some of that definitely has to do with the system, as well as inferior receiving talent in the second half of a preseason game, but a lot of it is on Tebow, as well.
Tebow’s throwing motion is still slow and awkward, but his biggest issues are simply holding onto the ball too long, and throwing across his body off his back foot when on the run. He has a pretty strong arm, but all of that strength is lessened when he’s not using his back foot for leverage. Throwing across the body isn’t just ugly at times, either; it’s also just a bad idea.
While Tebow is to blame for a lot of his poor play, he can’t make third string receivers magically run great routes, get open, and catch every pass. It’d be interesting to see what Tebow could do with the first team unit, but for now I have to say he hasn’t made enough progress to really warrant the “Tebow!” chants. If Mark Sanchez comes out throwing ducks and the offense continues to kick field goals for 2-3 weeks, then they have nothing to lose. But even as a Tebow supporter, right now it’s pretty clear that he’s still more of a gimmick than an NFL quarterback.
With that said, we haven’t seen a lick of the “Tebow package”, and I’m very excited to see how the Jets use Tebow’s strengths. I have no doubt that he can effectively run a read-option or Wildcat package to perfection, and with better passing ability than, say, Ronnie Brown, it could prove to be a very tough offense to defense. How the Jets mix in that part of the offense in with their base stuff remains to be seen, however. It also remains to be seen if Mark Sanchez’s head will explode if Tebow taps him on the shoulder each time the Jets get into the red-zone, as well.