After a week-end of preseason games wrapped up, there are a number of storylines and news not just in New England but in the AFC East in general. With the Patriots playing the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, and Miami Dolphins twice each season, it is imperative to remain up-to-date on the divisional competition. With Buffalo and the Jets as the first two games of the regular season in September, and with Miami picked to be the breakout performer this season after an offseason of free agent activity, be sure that the New England scouts are watching all three teams closely.
New York Jets outside linebacker and arguably their best and most important defensive player Quinton Coples is expected to miss three or four weeks with a hairline fracture of his ankle, the New York Daily News reported this morning. Although the injury will not require surgery, it is at a bad time in the development of the second year player. The injury happened Saturday night against Jacksonville when Coples was rushing Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne and fell awkwardly after making a strong play getting pressure on Henne and blocking a pass. Outside of Coples, the Jets had difficulty pressuring the quarterback last season and not having him on the field puts a lot of pressure on the secondary.
One performance that stood out Saturday night for the Jets was the performance of running back Bilal Powell. Powell had 7 rushes for 68 yards including a 37 yard rumble and looked like the most explosive player on the offense. Backup running back Kahlil Bell had two touchdown rushes, but did not impress as he had trouble finding running room for the most part throughout the game. Chris Ivory didn’t make much of an impact in his first preseason game after missing much of training camp with a hamstring injury. Ivory never seemed in sync and finished with 13 yards on six rushing attempts.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez took a step towards winning the starting quarterback job by default in New York as both rookie Geno Smith and third string quarterback Greg McElroy both missed the game with ankle injuries. Sanchez had a vintage Sanchez performance that is all too familiar to the denizens of East Rutherford, NJ: the Sanchize started strong in the game as he led a quick touchdown drive and completed five straight passes before coming back and throwing a dreadful red-zone interception. By the end of the first half, the Jets fans were booing Sanchez as he screwed up a clock-management situation like a raw rookie by running out of time and not letting the field goal unit get on the field.
As usual, Sanchez had decent final numbers on paper by going 13-of-23 passing for 169 yards and one touchdown and one interception. However, Jets fans in attendance against Jacksonville Saturday night recognized that this was just another in a long line of frustrating Sanchez performances. The scoreboard may have said 37-13 at the end of the game and appear to be a dominant Jets performance, but the 13-10 deficit to the Jaguars at halftime was the real story.