Both Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez had their moments Saturday Night, but the player who stood out the most for the first team offense was running back Bilal Powell.
"I thought Bilal Powell really jumped out on offense," said Rex Ryan after the team's annual Green & White Scrimmage.
The Jets, who amassed more than 400 yards of total offense, came out in attack mode. Marty Mornhinweg put Smith in the shotgun and the rookie looked sharp on the opening possession against the first team defense. But it was Powell's legs that gave the Jets their biggest chunk as the shifty third-year back ran for 24 yards.
"The offensive line did a great job," Powell told me. "It was a great call by Coach Mornhinweg and Lex Hilliard had a great block on the Mike. He sprung me for a decent run."
But the Jets wasted a golden opportunity to score when a pair of offensive penalties pushed them back including one that took a Powell three-yard scoring run off the board. On that play, Powell took a Wildcat snap from Nick Mangold and found a crease for an apparent TD.
"I just think we should eliminate the mistakes down in the red zone — the flags and I think we'll be fine going into the season," he said.
With Chris Ivory (hamstring) and Joe McKnight unavailable for action, Powell again showcased his ability to make things happen in the open field later in the first half as he scooted for a long gain on a screen pass.
"Coach (Anthony Lynn) always emphasizes making a guy miss in this league and that's one of the things that I want to improve on this year — making guys miss and having more explosive runs," Powell said.
In three series with the starters, Smith unofficially finished 9-of-16 for 79 yards and led one field goal drive. His fourth down shovel pass to Powell fell incomplete from the 2 on that first drive as the Jets elected to go for six instead of settle for a field goal.
When Smith has time to throw, he continues to showcase a powerful NFL arm and he delivers an accurate ball. But the West Virginia product would have liked to see more points to show for his drives.
"I think it went well. I think guys did a great job of competing," he said. "I think we ran the ball fairly well. We were able to move the ball down the field. We got a chance I think about two or three times in the redzone. We weren't able to capitalize and get touchdowns. That's something we'll need to improve on."
Sanchez had his moments as well. Unofficially the fifth-year veteran finished 6 of 11 for 91 yards, ending the night with a gorgeous 57-yard TD to Stephen Hill. But Sanchez was also intercepted by Antonio Cromartie and he appeared to be too high on an end zone pass to Clyde Gates.
"Cro made a hell of a play on one of them and just beat the receiver over there," Sanchez said. "Stephen Hill went out there and got one for me, which was nice. Marty is really stressing that we want to be able to push the field and get the ball up the field vertically."
Rex Ryan was pleased with his team's overall effort in the scrimmage. And while the QB competition continues to captivate, the soft-spoken Powell gave all a reminder tonight of his ability.
"We know the kind of back he is," Ryan said. "But I think now — obviously with the opportunity he's been given — he's really taking the reins."