The New York Jets ended their preseason slate on a sour note as they fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 37-7 Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
The fourth and final preseason game of the summer is typically left to teams’ third- and fourth-stringers to fight for a handful of disputed roster spots, while starters rest on the sidelines. The Jets smartly employed this strategy – most starters on both offense and defense got the night off, with the notable exception of Michael Vick. Vick was sent out to take the Jets’ first offensive snap against his former team. He handed off the ball to Daryl Richardson and then left the game to cheers from the Philly crowd.
Vick got that one snap against his former team, but former-Jet, current-Eagle Mark Sanchez did not get that distinction. Philadelphia was led at quarterback by Matt Barkley, who posted a final stat line of 21-for-33, 253 yards, one passing touchdown, one rushing touchdown and one interception made by Jets cornerback LeQuan Lewis.
The Eagles ran up their lead with three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a 46-yard touchdown run by wideout Damaris Johnson.
Matt Simms played quarterback for the Jets for the first half, posting an unimpressive 7-for-17 and 121 yards. Tajh Boyd finally saw preseason action, playing under center for the rest of the game, and provided New York’s only touchdown on a 42-yard pass to Clyde Gates.
Alex Green ran for 34 yards on the night and Richardson racked up 29. Richardson also caught two passes for 32 yards. Chris Pantale made a case for the Jets to keep four tight ends on the roster by leading the team with 74 yards on three catches, including a big 50-yarder in the first quarter.
The Jets finish the preseason 2-2. Ten days remain before the team’s regular season opener hosting the Oakland Raiders September 7, and just two days before the league deadline for final roster cuts. All teams must reduce their roster to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. This means 22 players will be asked to turn in their playbooks. (And in a game designed to let reserves prove their worth to the team, very few Jets stepped up.)
In their first round of cuts earlier this week, the Jets let go of 12 players, notably including WR Jacoby Ford, undrafted free agent fullback Chad Young and spotlight-stealing kicker Andrew Furney. The Ford cut may be the one no one saw coming, but to me it’s a vote of confidence in rookie Jalen Saunders’s punt-returning abilities.
Something to watch is how many of Saunders’s draft-classmates will make the team. The Jets got to make a league-high 12 picks and had the misfortune of losing two (Dexter McDougle, CB, Round 3; Shaq Evans, WR, Round 4) to season-ending injuries this August. Of the remaining 10, could as few as five make the team? Randy Lange of newyorkjets.com sees Boyd, OL Dakota Dozier, WR Quincy Enunwa, and LBs Jeremiah George and Trevor Reilly as “on the bubble” (as well as injured sixth-round DE IK Enemkpali, who I personally hope the team saves).
How will the 53-man roster shake out? What will the receiving and cornerback corps look like in the end? Will Stephen Hill survive the final cut and make the team? Stay tuned this weekend for the final cuts and our reaction here.