The Jets went into their first preseason game against the Bengals on Friday night with a lot of question marks. The starting offensive line still hasn't gotten its groove back. In a game that Cincinnati won 17-6, the OL allowed two sacks of QB Mark Sanchez in the first and only quarter in which the starters played. With WRs Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley out, Patrick Turner, Chaz Schilens and Jordan White were forced into service. Turner and White turned in respectable performances. Schilens was a non-factor.
The defense looked more solid than the offense but still gave up 213 total yards -- more than the Jets would have liked or expected. The Bengals also had 14 first downs to the Jets' 11.
In the most hotly watched non-competition between two quarterbacks, starter Mark Sanchez completed 4-6 for 21 yards and rushed once for 4 yards in one quarter of action; backup Tim Tebow was 4-8 for 28 yards and rushed 4 times for 34 yards in two quarters of play.
And what won't go unnoticed by coach Rex Ryan were the seven penalties for 52 yards and two turnovers.
1. DE Quinton Coples, the Jets' first-round pick, finally showed some of the talent that had been slow to appear in training camp. A blocked pass, sack, passes broken up, tackles for losses. He seems to have both the power and speed that the Jets are looking for at that position.
2. Backup QB Tim Tebow proved that he can still run, and he ran the offense fairly well for two quarters. His accuracy remains a problem, but if the team can use him as they've planned -- as their Wildcat QB and situationally in other areas -- the trade may prove to be a good move.
3. RB Bilal Powell, who appeared in only two games in 2011, has had a solid 2012 training camp and backed it up with a solid game against the Bengals. He's putting up a good battle with RB Joe McKnight for the No. 2 running back spot.
1. The offensive line depth is almost non-existent. The starters weren't perfect, but once the second and third string came in, the Bengals had their way with them, and it was glaringly obvious that this group won't provide the security the Jets need. QB Greg McElroy seemed to spend most of his time on the ground, and if it weren't for his ability to run and escape pressure, Tebow would likely have been in the same boat.
2. Rex Ryan has touted a better and faster defense this year, based on younger talent in rookie DE Coples, DE Muhammad Wilkerson, NT Kenrick Ellis and rookie LB Demario Davis. Unfortunately, except for Coples, who got hotter as the game progressed, that defense wasn't in evidence against the Bengals, especially when they allowed a 76-yard drive in the first quarter.
3. Depth at cornerback may be an issue. Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie are solid. Then there's a drop-off with guys like Kyle Wilson and Isaiah Trufant. Ellis Lankster is intriguing but is still inexperienced.
Jury's still out:
Wide receivers. Holmes is out for an unknown amount of time with a rib cartilage injury. Kerley has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since the second day of training camp. Schilens is battling a hamstring and has a history of injuries. Rookie Stephen Hill has shown a lot of talent, but he still has a long way to go. White, a rookie, looks fully recovered from a broken foot, but at 6-0, 215 pounds, he is a small target. Turner seems to be re-establishing the rapport he had with Sanchez when the two were at USC. The success and production of this unit is going to depend a lot on their ability to get -- and stay -- healthy.