1. Austin Howard was pretty good. He was going to be in the spotlight the moment he took the field tonight, and Howard was very effective at right tackle, playing mostly against Charles Johnson, a very good defensive lineman for the Panthers. Howard didn't allow a sack and got some good push in the run game. This was a VERY good sign for the Jets, who pretty much have all their eggs in the Howard basket now. Wayne Hunter has no chance of taking the job back (Hunter was pushed around and gave up another sack with the second team tonight) and unless another team cuts a major upgrade at tackle, the Jets are going to put Howard out there and hope for the best. Tonight was an important first step and a VERY good sign for both Howard and the Jets.
2. The offense looked MUCH crisper than it had the first two weeks of the preseason. Sanchez had more time to throw the football, had good pocket presence, and made some very good throws down the field. Sanchez was 11-18 for 123 yards, with an interception that wasn't his fault. The Jets put together some good, solid drives and were able to get points on the board. It would have been nice to get in the end zone, but as Sanchez himself said on NBC, maybe they are just saving them all for the regular season. We can only hope he's right.
3. You saw the good and the bad of Stephen Hill tonight. Hill made a big play in the passing game, catching a back shoulder pass from Sanchez down the right sideline for a 32 yard gain. It's what the Jets drafted Hill for...to stretch the field. The problem is that Hill later on dropped a short pass over the middle, that turned into an interception. The ball went right through his hands on a perfect throw from Sanchez. Hill has had issues with drops in camp and it reared its ugly head tonight. The Jets are banking on Hill being a big part of this offense this year. He simply cannot make mistakes like that.
4. The defensive played very well. The line got good pressure on Newton while he was in there. They held the Panthers to basically 3 points, the only td given up off of the turnover where Carolina started deep in Jets territory. The defensive line had two stars....Kendrick Ellis and Quinton Coples. Ellis was a monster on the first series...stuffing the run and getting great pressure up the middle. Coples once again made his presence felt by forcing a fumble on a scrambling Cam Newton. Along with Muhammed Wilkerson, there is no question the Jets have an incredibly young and strong defensive line. With Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito due back for the regular season, the defensive line could very well be the biggest strength this team has.
5.Josh Brown's missed field goal tonight probably makes it easier for the Jets to go with the incumbent Nick Folk. Folk has been the more consistent of the two in camp, and Brown's miss tonight probably pushes the needle more in Folk's favor.
6. Biggest concern tonight...injuries. Dustin Keller left after his only catch, where he went down non-contact with what seems to be a hamstring injury. The Jets simply cannot afford to lose Keller for a long period of time. Hamstrings are tricky injuries...Keller needs to rest and be 100 percent for the season. Josh Baker also got hurt in what looked like a very scary injury to his knee. Baker was helped off the field but was later carted to the locker room. This makes the Jets incredibly thin at tight end. Mike Tannenbaum is going to have to find a gem in the scrap heap of cuts next week.
That's what I saw from tonight's game. Tell me what you thought.