PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The numbers say it was a bad night for the Jets’ offense, but this early, the numbers don’t quite matter as much as the progress. So yes, the defense had seven sacks in Saturday’s Green and White Scrimmage in front of a few thousand fans at Rutgers’ Highpoint Solutions Stadium and the offense managed just one meager touchdown — here’s looking at you, Josh McCown — but that hasn’t quite tempered any of the optimism following Sam Darnold and company.
Darnold showed flashes of versatility and rookie running back Trenton Cannon wowed with a handful of explosive runs in the scrimmage, a tuneup before the Jets start the preseason this week.
“He’s grasping the offense. It’s been barely a week for him, so he’s getting better every day and we’ll go from there,” Todd Bowles said of Darnold, who unofficially was 9-for-11 for 89 yards with three sacks and ran twice for 13 yards. “It’s good to have good feet in this league as well as an arm . . . He’s grasping the offense well and we’ll go from there”
Darnold got the bulk of the work over McCown and Teddy Bridgewater and had a lot of it with the Jets’ third-string group — an effort, Bowles said, to get all of his younger players up to speed.
Cannon had a few flashy rushes, including a 14-yard run on a toss from Bridgewater. He blocked well, caught a couple of passes and impressed more than a few of his teammates.
“Cannon looks really good,” Jermaine Kearse said. “Every time he hits the edge, it’s like, he hits the corner so fast. He’s explosive and he makes plays out there . . . I thought [the offense] looked pretty solid. Obviously, there are some things we need to correct as far as penalties [but] overall, I thought it was a good step forward.”
Added Bowles: “We know he’s fast. Again, he’s got a chance to make some plays and he’s fast, so it’ll be great to see him in preseason games.”
McCown was 3-for-3 for 69 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown pass to Bilal Powell (he was narrowly sacked on that play, but with the red no-contact jerseys, sacks are left to the officials to decide).
Bridgewater was 7-for-7 for 53 yards and was sacked four times. “We let too many guys get to the backfield from a quarterback standpoint and the young guys had too many penalties but overall, it was productive,” Bowles said.
Much of that has to do with Darnold’s continuing progress. He demonstrated considerable field vision and an ability to make something out of nothing, Kearse said.
“He’s an athletic guy and he’s just as accurate on the run as he is in the pocket and so that’s something he’ll utilize to his advantage,” Kearse said. “It’ll help to extend plays in situations where he has to get forced out of the pocket. It allows us to find areas to get open and he keeps his eyes down the field. So it’s a good thing for us so we just have to find the open areas for us to get the ball.”
Notes & quotes: T Kelvin Beachum did not practice and was spotted with a cast on his left foot. Bowles called it a sore foot and said the Jets will take the injury “week to week.” . . . After practicing all week, S Marcus Maye (ankle) and WR Terrelle Pryor (ankle) were held out of Saturday’s scrimmage as a precaution. Both will resume practicing Monday, Bowles said. WR Quincy Enunwa (finger) and TE Jordan Leggett (unknown) also did not practice.