Picking apart Jets-Giants flubs, fixes
Bob GlauberBob Glauber
Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He
Can't ever remember coming away from this game thinking that the biggest problem for either team is an offensive lineman. But after watching right tackle Wayne Hunter continually lose his one-on-one battles with Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, that's what it comes down to. Hunter's poor play was a huge issue last season, and it looks as if that problem isn't going away after Saturday night's performance. The Jets need to give serious consideration to giving the job to Austin Howard, who has had a solid camp. Either that or a trade, although you won't find many teams willing to part ways with a quality offensive lineman at this point. Bottom line: If this situation isn't rectified, how can quarterback Mark Sanchez be expected to do much besides throw dump-off passes? With no real pass protection, he's a sitting duck. The Jets need to make a change here. Hunter knows his time may be running short.
"It has to get better," he said after the game. "The first game is coming quickly. I have to get this figured out, or the [Jets] are going to find someone to bring in that can do the job. That's the name of the game."
The Giants have their own offensive line issues, but they seem in much better position to weather them than the Jets. With Will Beatty's back acting up, the Giants replaced him Saturday night with former Seahawks tackle Sean Locklear. His signing in April by general manager Jerry Reese was virtually unnoticed, but having his experience in the lineup might prove invaluable. Locklear was a third-round pick of the Seahawks in 2004 and started 78 games for them from 2005-10. He prefers right tackle, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Giants move David Diehl, who has been an excellent left tackle, back to his customary spot. Diehl is at right tackle after replacing Kareem McKenzie, who was not retained this season.
Victor Cruz said he loves playing the Jets, and he showed it again Saturday night. Cruz, who first made a name for himself with three touchdown catches against the Jets as a rookie in 2010. Cruz played only the first half Saturday night and had five catches for 51 yards. He was interfered with in the end zone by Jets cornerback Kyle Wilson, but the replacement officials did not call the penalty. "You know it's the Jets," Cruz said. "You know it's your in-house and state rivals, but at the end of the day, it's another preseason game. I was able to catch the ball and make a few things happen. I was excited for it."
Not a very convincing night for Sanchez, who was under a heavy rush way too often. His one big mistake resulted in a pick-six; a second-quarter pass intended for Patrick Turner was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Giants rookie cornerback Jayron Hosley. "I threw it a little behind [Turner]," Sanchez said afterward. "That just goes to show you how fragile the ball is. You miss by a little bit in this league, they take it back. That's one you'd like to have back."
Didn't help the Jets that their top two receivers -- Santonio Holmes (ribs) and Chaz Schilens (ankle) -- were out a second straight week.
Effective performance from Jets linebacker Bart Scott, who applied good pressure on Eli Manning and was effective in run defense.
One observation about Tim Tebow: On some plays when he's in the pocket and looking for an open receiver, it almost looks like he just doesn't want to make the throw and would much rather run. That's fine every now and then, but if it's a habit, that's not good. Tebow had a brutal second half, going 5-for-14 for 69 yards and four sacks. One of those completions was an underthrown pass to rookie Stephen Hill in the end zone that Hill couldn't reach. "I probably should have just put it on him more," Tebow said.