The Jets moved one step closer to the regular season on Saturday night, but once again their starters didn’t play much, and some key ones didn’t play at all as they lost a sloppy contest with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
New York led 6-3 late in the first half but the Bucs took a 10-6 halftime lead on Trey Palmer’s 33-yard touchdown catch over undrafted rookie Derrick Langford.
In the third quarter the Jets looked set to recapture the lead, but Tim Boyle’s pass was knocked away from another undrafted rookie, TJ Luther, and intercepted by Dee Delaney in the end zone. After getting into the red zone again on their next possession, the drive stalled due to a holding penalty and Greg Zuerlein missed a 40-yard field goal.
After the Bucs extended their lead to 13-6, it looked like the Jets had scored a special teams touchdown on a fumble return by Dane Cruikshank but the replay booth overturned this.
With a chance to ice the game with less than three minutes to go, Rodrigo Blankenship’s missed chip-shot field goal and a fourth down pass interference penalty kept the Jets in with a chance, but Boyle was unable to get them on the board.
Here are some takeaways…
– Zach Wilson didn’t have much success in completing drives this week and had an inaccurate throw to Allen Lazard over the middle, but he still completed nine of his first 11 passes and had a spectacular 35-yard scramble as he continues to look more comfortable than he did at any point last season.
– For the first time in preseason, Mekhi Becton saw action at the right tackle position and looked solid there. As he started to settle down, Becton had a couple of dominant blocks late in the first half, which clearly got his teammates fired up, then continued to look good into the second half. Staying at right tackle could be Becton’s best — and perhaps only — route towards a starting role this year.
– Among players seeing their first action this week were Al Woods, Adrian Amos and Justin Hardee. Tony Adams was rested once again, which presumably confirms that he remains ahead of Amos in the battle to start at safety alongside Jordan Whitehead. Amos did make a third down stop and a good tackle in the flat. However, Ashtyn Davis also made a case for himself this week with three tackles for loss and one for no gain in the first half.
– Zonovan Knight got a good opportunity as the starting running back and kickoff returner but he lost a fumble and dropped a pass, underlining the fact that the Jets signed Dalvin Cook because they wanted a proven veteran rather than developing youngsters. To Knight’s credit he battled back and had some nice plays as he ultimately contributed 53 yards on 12 touches.
– Undrafted rookie Xavier Gipson had plenty of opportunities in the return game and failed to impress in the first two preseason games, but he showed some of what the Jets see in him with a dynamic 31-yard punt return to set up the Jets’ opening score. He also added two catches, although another undrafted rookie, Jason Brownlee, led the team with four catches for 50 yards.
– Recent addition Jayln Holmes made an immediate impression with two sacks. Although his roster hopes are slim in a loaded position group, he could earn himself a practice squad spot or an opportunity with another team.
– Rookie tight end Zack Kuntz is in a battle to earn the fourth tight end spot but hurt his chances with two holding penalties, the second of which had head coach Robert Saleh shaking his head on the sideline. Kuntz may be on the outside looking in, especially since it’s not even certain they’ll carry four tight ends.
– It was a sloppy game for the Jets overall as they were called for eight penalties.
– The Jets lost rookie running back Israel Abanikanda to an injury in the fourth quarter, again perhaps showing why the Cook signing was justified. The initial news on Abanikanda was positive though, as this was reportedly just a thigh injury.
The Jets will be on the “road” as they face off with the Giants on Saturday, Aug. 26 at 6:00 p.m.