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Jets vs Falcons Recap: The Future Starts Today by Brandon Turner

On August 10 the Jets and Falcons met for the first pre-season game of the year. Both teams enjoying some newfound security at the QB position. Atlanta gave Matt Ryan (the 2016 MVP) a 100 million guaranteed contract extension to keep him in red for a long time while the Jets have finally found a possible answer at QB by taking Sam Darnold out of USC with the third overall pick.

The Falcons would defer giving the blazing fast 6th rounder Trenton Cannon his first shot at a kickoff return where he would be stuffed at the 30 yard line and the Jets would go 3 and out. The Falcons offense would be missing Julio Jones who almost missed training camp because of a contract dispute before reaching a deal and Devonta Freeman who has dealt with injuries throughout his career.

Jets 3rd rounder Nathan Shepherd would make his presence known early as he flew across the field to stuff Tevin Coleman after only 1 yard. Mike Maccagnan has had his struggles hitting on more picks than just his top ones and big days from Cannon and Shepherd would go a long way towards reassuring fans the Jets draft did more than just bring in Sam Darnold.

The Jets next offensive drive would feature QB Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings former first round pick and franchise QB suffered a devastating knee injury in 2016 and has looked great in practice for the Jets. There has even been talks that if Teddy continues to look good and a team develops a need for a QB he could be traded to help further the Jets rebuilding efforts. The Jets would stall at 4th and 3 but would go for it and convert with a terrific catch by Jermaine Kearse by his fingertips over the middle.

TOUCHDOWN: After another conversion by Bilal Powell, former Brown Isiah Crowell would step in and score a touchdown after barreling over a couple Falcons to get into the endzone.

He would leave the game shaken up with a head injury to see the Jets medical staff. The offensive line looked powerful, consistently pushing around the Falcons defensive line and opening up lanes on the outside for the Jets running backs.

Matt Schuab would step in for Matt Ryan but go three and out after some good plays by Safety Jamal Adams and new LB Avery Williamson. Field Goal: After a Bridgewater pass to Neal Sterling and some shifty runs by Trenton Cannon the Jets Taylor Bertolet would take a shot at winning the starting kicking job with a successful 45 yard kick.

After another strong showing by the Jets defense (At this point the Falcons have yet to convert a first down) Sam Darnold would finally get his first live action as a Jet.

TOUCHDOWN: Darnold would impress in the first half. With poise and calm he would repeatedly scramble and throw accurate passes. Going 9 of 11 and fitting in a pass on the run to Charles Johnson for his first touchdown in a Jets uniform.

With 13 seconds left in the first half the Falcons would finally convert their first down as the Jets defense played with sound fundamentals not missing a single tackle.

The Jets and Falcons 3rd string would take over and 6th round pick CB Derrick Jones would flash in keeping a Falcons deep pass from connecting in the end zone. Derrick Jones is battling for the Jets 4th cornerback spot.

Trenton Cannon would mar what had been a good game with bobbling a punt where he had no pressure and the ball fell into his arms. He made a statement that he should be considered part of the Jets starting running back corp but took a blow towards his efforts to return kicks and punts for Gang Green.

Darnold would come out for the 2nd half still in at QB for the Jets. He would lose the football after a big hit taken on a scramble up the sideline but was ruled to be down before the ball came out. On third down a pass was nearly picked because 2nd year receiver Ardarius Stewart was slow out of his break. Keeping the turnovers down will be key for Darnold as the main criticism of him as college QB was he was too careless with the football.

In the 4th quarter it looked like Darnold had Cannon open with a deep pass but Cannon never saw the football and it fell incomplete. Cannon easily beat his man but never got his head around to see the pass which seems to be a theme with him. He oozes potential but is still a raw prospect out of Virginia State.

Chad Hansen and Ardarius Stewart had disappointing starts as Hansen was invisible and Stewart couldn’t corral either of his targets. The second year recievers should be taking the next step and becoming involved in the offense but neither are showing they’ve made any strides from their disappointing rookie year. 

Darnold was kept safe in the 4th quarter as he passed off to RBs Atkinson or Cannon on almost every play with neither gaining much as the Jets 3rd strong offense struggled to generate a push. It was clear they were going to struggle to keep pressure off Darnold as well and the Jets made the wise move to limit his throws and keep him healthy in a meaningless game.

Takeaways: Buster Skrine looked good back in his old position and made some big plays early in the game, don’t underestimate the impact of Trumaine Johnson in allowing the Jets defensive backs to play their natural roles.

Avery Williamson flashed multiple times on run and pass defense, he could be a steal if Todd Bowles has figured out a role for him on all 3 downs, something the Titans failed to do. Neil Shephard and Derrick Jones looked good and made some plays on defense, is Maccagnan finally hitting on more than 1st round picks?

The QBs looked good. Bridgewater and Darnold got extended work and they both threw touchdowns and looked poised and accurate. The Jets have 3 QBs they may feel comfortable starting and deciding between them is a good problem to have. 

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