New York Jets at Atlanta Falcons
When and Where: Thursday, Aug. 15, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga., 7:30 p.m. EDT.
One quality possession a juggernaut offense does not make, but it showed plenty of promise for the New York Jets regarding Sam Darnold and Adam Gase. The pair looks to build on that budding chemistry Thursday night when they face the Atlanta Falcons.
Darnold looks to build on sharp preseason debut
Darnold and Gase clearly have found a rhythm quickly as the second-year quarterback and first-year coach were on the same wavelength in the lone possession Darnold ran for the Jets. He directed a 75-yard drive, going 4 for 5 for 68 yards and hooking up with newcomer Jamison Crowder on a three-yard scoring toss.
"It wouldn’t surprise me if Jamison Crowder creeps near or past 100 catches this season. That’s how much Sam Darnold looks to him in practice." @Connor_J_Hughes
— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) August 11, 2019
With the increased workload expected for the second preseason game, the plan is to remain aggressive according to Darnold.
“I think if we can control the tempo, we stay on the attack and the defense has to react to us instead of us reacting to what the defense is doing,” Darnold told the Jets’ official website Sunday. “When you do the latter, I think it definitely hurts you as an offense. You play slower, and for me especially I’m thinking a lot more than I should be out there. If we just stay on the attack and just continue that good tempo, the defense must react to us and that makes it hard.”
The important aspects for this game will be incorporating running back Le’Veon Bell into the offense for his Jets debut and developing an understanding with center Ryan Kalil, as the veteran began practicing with this team over the weekend after coming out of retirement to sign with the Jets. Gase said the 34-year-old is quickly grasping the playbook, but they will be cautious in how fast they will integrate him into the offense.
While Darnold was nearly flawless in his lone series, the rest of the team was far from it in New York’s 31-22 loss to the crosstown rival Giants. The Jets secondary was torched for 374 yards as Giants first-round draft pick Daniel Jones was 5 for 5 for 67 yards and a TD in his pro debut.
Gase did get some help in depth over the weekend as safety Marcus Maye was activated off the PUP list and participated in 7-on-7 drills. Maye, who was limited to six games last year with thumb and shoulder injuries, also missed both minicamps earlier this summer healing from shoulder surgery.
— Newsday Sports (@NewsdaySports) August 11, 2019
“I’m just glad he can’t bother me about it anymore. He’s been begging to be out there,” said head coach Adam Gase. “We were trying to be smart. By putting him out there, we didn’t want to be wrong. If we were a little cautious, then that was fine. We were all in agreement that we were going to make sure he was in a good spot.”
As Maye came back, cornerback Trumaine Johnson is a question mark for this game after tweaking his hamstring over the weekend. Johnson, who signed a 5-year, $72 million deal last year, had four interceptions in 10 games and was slowed midseason by a quadriceps injury.
New York will also be breaking in a new kicker after the surprising retirement of Chandler Catanzaro on Sunday. Catanzaro missed a pair of extra points in the loss to the Giants and had been struggling throughout camp. Taylor Bertolet, who was in Jets camp last year, is currently the No. 1 kicker, but the Jets are expected to bring in veteran competition.
On Tuesday, Bertolet was solid, going 4-for-4 on field goals, converting from 44 yards, 40 and twice from 33.
“He’s done a great job since he’s been back,” Jets special teams coordinator Brant Boyer said. “I have a lot of confidence in the kid. He kicks a great ball and he’s got a strong leg.”
The 26-year-old kicker had a stint with the Salt Lake Stallions in the AAF before the league went bankrupt in April and was cut by Denver in July. He has never kicked in a regular-season NFL game and made all four of his preseason kicks for the Jets last season.
Update (8/14/19): Darnold had a rough day on Tuesday, completing just 5-of-12 with an interception. He also threw a pick on Monday as well. The good news was that new inside linebacker C.J. Mosely got the pick on Tuesday. Undrafted rookie Greg Dortch is getting into the mix at wide reciever, after reeling off a 32-yard punt return last week against the Giants.
Ryan expected to make preseason debut for Falcons
Falcons coach Dan Quinn made the late decision to hold out quarterback Matt Ryan and multiple starters due to the poor field conditions in Miami created by the rain and a soccer match being played at Hard Rock Stadium as the Falcons dropped to 0-2 with a 34-27 loss to the Dolphins.
“We’ll definitely get a little more for sure,” said Quinn referring to playing starters on Thursday. “The same goes with the line…It’s mostly by feel. I don’t generally tell the guys how much they go or how long they’re out.”
There were positives, though, as backup signal-caller Matt Schaub was effective in his half of work. Schaub completed 12 of 19 passes for 172 yards as he and Matt Simms spread the wealth with completions to 11 different receivers.
— Darkest Timeline DW (@FalcoholicDW) August 11, 2019
This weekend marked the return of wide receiver Calvin Ridley and cornerback Desmond Trufant to practice. Ridley was held out with a tight hamstring, while Trufant had been dealing with a strained lower back. Pro Bowlers Julio Jones and Deion Jones will also be more incorporated into team activities more as the two have been focusing mainly on individual drills.
“That’s kind of been part of the design for them,” Quinn told the team’s official website. “We’re about three weeks left in the preseason for them; we’ve kind of all along had a good script of where we thought we could head with them.”
With Julio Jones not playing in the preseason, Russell Gage is making the most of his extra reps and is trying to nail down a spot as Atlanta’s No. 4 receiver. He had three catches for 33 yards versus Miami.
“He’s a guy that’s really taken a big step from Year 1 to Year 2 and, especially for receivers, that’s a time where you make a big jump in your progression as a football player,” Schaub said.
Safety Parker Baldwin is turning heads as he battles to be Keanu Neal’s backup with J.J. Wilcox already out for the season. Linebacker Jermain Grace will be trying to build on a positive performance against the Dolphins that included an interception he nearly returned for a touchdown.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) August 14, 2019
One area the Falcons do need improvement is with penalties. They have been whistled for 24 penalties totaling 195 yards after being flagged 12 times versus Miami. Five of the penalties resulted in automatic first downs for Miami, which contributed to the Dolphins going 5 for 11 on third down.
The Jets are:
- 1-7 ATS in their last eight games vs. NFC teams.
- 1-4 ATS in their last five Thursday games.
The Falcons are:
- 7-3 in their last 10 Thursday games.