JETS DEFENSE NOT LIFTING OFF
You can see wrinkles of the Cardinals defense for the Jets, who are now being run by former Arizona Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles, but the first team defense seemed to struggle picking up some concepts right away as the Lions moved down the field with ease. Matt Stafford & Co. capped off the first drive with a 35 yard touchdown to Golden Tate that stemmed from Jets ILB DeMario Davis being out of position in zone coverage.
Oh, and Jets CB Antonio Cromartie still can't tackle, but Bowles should know all about that having coached him last season in the desert.
NO TOSSING THIS SALAS
Lions WR Greg Salas has been geneating a lot of buzz in camp, and his performance did nothing but validate all the scuttlebutt. Salas finished with 5 catches for 92 yards and a 35 yard TD catch, beating second year CB Dexter McDougle. The touchdown came after a bad Daryl Richardson fumble to start the 3rd quarter, and really deflated the Jets momentum for the remainder of the game. I see Salas as a perfect replacement to take over for the departed Kris Durham, who now plies his trade in Oakland.
WE WANT MOORE
The Lions' offseason pickup of slot WR Lance Moore may be a very savvy move by GM Marty Mayhew. Even though Golden Tate led the NFL with 720 Yards After Catch last season, the Lions have been starving for a true slot guy, and Moore certainly looked more than capable of that role. Moore spent last season buried on a young and talented Pittsburgh Steelers depth chart, but may have found an ideal landing spot in Detroit. WR Ryan Broyles has been living off of a $60k a year budget, and that may be a wise move, as the former 2012 second round pick may be in danger of losing a roster spot this year.
THE NEW SUH
It's no secret that the loss of DTs Ndamokung Suh and Nick Fairley will be impossible to replace for the Lions, but they have taken some steps to address it, first and foremost by trading for Ravens DT Haloti Ngata in the offseason. But who will line up next to him is the question? Although the Lions also signed DT Tyrunn Walker from the Saints in free agency, my money is on last year's draft pick out of Princeton DT Caraun Reid, who had a nice sack in this game and showed consistent penetration throughout. Reid has taken all the necessary steps this offseason to be a pro in this league, hiring a personal chef to eat healthier and losing 3% body fat. The work shows.
-Lions RB Ameer Abdullah. Wow. The Senior Bowl MVP showed exactly the type of agility and balance that made him special at Nebraska, first juking Jets S Calvin Pryor out of his shoes for a 4 yard gain at Q1 14:20, and then the below highleet-reel cut up field for 45 yards that has DeMario Davis still looking for his soul somewhere on the field. I did like Darrelle Revis' hustle in this play though, especially for it being Week 1 of preseason. If Abdullah can continue to stack these types of performances and develop his pass protection, Joique Bell can be in trouble. #fearameer
-As impressive as Abdullah was, however, my favorite rookie performance of this game was LG Laken Tomlinson. Although Manny Ramirez got the start, there is no way I see this continuing Week 1, as Tomlinson looked absolutely dominant in extended action. Maybe Ramirez can shift over to C, who knows. All I know is that Tomlinson screams future Pro Bowler when you watch him. The play below personifies everything I'm taking about, as Tomlinson casts aside the opposing DT like a used diaper and then uses his athleticism to get out into the flat and block for the screen.
Between Tomlinson and RG Larry Warford, look for the Lions to emphasize more of a running game this year to take the pressure off Matt Stafford.
-Jets QB Bryce Petty is probably sending IK Enemkpali a Christmas card this year, as the former Baylor star saw the field for almost the entire game with Geno Smith's jaw injury. Petty went 10/18 for 50 yards, and although those numbers seem pedestrian, Petty did a nice job trying to work through his progressions and made sure he didn't cause any costly turnovers. You can see a good example of this here in the 2nd quarter where he goes through his reads and the ball is ultimately dropped by second year WR Quincy Enunwa.
As he gets more experience, he could be a nice developmental QB for the Jets.
-I really liked OLB Lorenzo Mauldin IV coming out of Louisville, and I still like him now. Mauldin was one of the only players on the Jets defense to manufacture a pass rush, even dropping Kellen Moore with a violent strike towards the end of the second quarter that was (incorrectly, IMO) called back for a roughing the passer penalty. Mauldin started out at ROLB and moved over to LOLB later on, and he is certainly a threat to supplant Calvin Pace for a starting position this year.
-All bets were against him, but a few more performance like this one may just earn undrafted RB Zach Zenner a spot on this roster on a team that is already deep at RB. The former South Dakota State star's playing style looks like he is somewhere in between Danny Woodhead and Toby Gerhart, and that's a good thing. Zenner showed good vision, was deliberate in his cuts, and best of all, showed no wasted motion in running the football. He even made a few nice blitz pick ups in protection and caught the ball well out of the backfield. Zenner wants to be a surgeon after football, and if he keeps carving up defenses like he did in this game, he may have to put those plans on hold.
-Another undrafted rookie free agent that flashed several times for me was Jets OLB Deion Barnes. The former Penn State DE declared for the draft after his junior season, wasn't invited to scouting combine, and is certainly playing with a chip on his shoulder, coming away with 3 tackles and always seemingly around the ball. At Q3 5:01, Barnes did a great job of shedding his blocker and hustling to the outside to run down RB George Winn for a loss on the play. More effort like this will make for some tough decisions for the coaching staff, and personally, I would rather take a flier on a guy like Deion Barnes to develop rather than a Jason Babin, whose veteran role can be filled by Calvin Pace.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Golden Tate's 35 yard touchdown made a Jets defense that looks very good on paper look average.
LIONS GAME BALL: WR Greg Salas (5 rec 94 yds 1 TD)
JETS GAME BALL: DE IK Enemkpali (for not subjecting Jets fans to more Geno Smith)
-Lions OG Darren Keyton (Knee)
-Jets ILB Erin Henderson (Knee)