*Updated, Friday, 1 a.m. ET
*The second preseason of Todd Bowles' tenure as head coach got under way successfully as the Jets posted a 17-13 triumph over Jacksonville on a warm summer Thursday night at MetLife Stadium.
Despite the Jets' fifth consecutive win in all games over the Jaguars, this victory was not assembled in overwhelming fashion as the Jets' first and second teams were outgained in the first half by 270 yards to 114. Yet one red zone defensive stand, two excellent kickoff returns, and big receptions by young pass catchers put the Jets on top at the half, 14-13, and the threes and fours weathered a late Jaguars drive to ride the win home.
"Missed tackles, number one, explosive plays, number two," Bowles said about his takeaways from the game. "We were pretty good at penalties, which was good to see. Good on third-down defense. We have a lot of work to do."
Here are eight observations on the Jets' play as the game unfolded:
1. Defense's Opening DriveThe Jets defenders know what Chris Ivory can do and they saw Blake Bortles complete passes to Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns against them last year. And they saw it all again on the opening drive of the preseason — all the way up to first-and-goal at the Jets 9.
Then the Green & White's No. 1 red zone defense from last season showed up for a stop punctuated by Leonard "Big Cat" Williams' third-down pouncing on Bortles for a sack, holding the visitors to a field goal.
2. Return EruptionsThe first of several long-yardage bursts for the Green & White came from the special teams. Jeremy Ross shot the rapids for a 51-yard kickoff return after the Jaguars' opening field goal. Then with a minute to go in the first half, rookie Jalin Marshall went Ross 33 better with an 84-yard return to set up the hosts' go-ahead TD. It was the Jets' longest preseason kickoff return since Leon Washington had an 86-yard return in 2007.
3. Q FactorOn the Jets' second offensive drive, Quincy Enunwa was unleashed. "Q" ran free and caught Fitzpatrick passes on back-to-back plays for 26 and 43 yards to the Jaguars 4, giving him 69 yards for the game, tying a career high in any game for the second-year WR vying for the No. 3 wideout spot in the offense. Bilal Powell finished the drive with a 4-yard TD burst.
"When I understand what's going on, I have the ability to make those big plays," Enunwa said, adding that even though there wasn't much game-plannning for the first summer game, he and Fitzpatrick talked about these plays. "They did exactly what we thought we were going to do, we ran the same route back-to-back and made two plays."
4. Secondary Under FireThe Jets' secondary was tested early and often by the Jaguars' good frontline receivers. Robinson burned Buster Skrine for 19 yards, then caught Bortles balls on Dee Milliner for 16 and 45 yards on consecutive plays. And Marqise Lee ran away from Marcus Williams for an 18-yarder from Chad Henne.
"We can't have explosive plays, but there were a couple of corners that did that," Bowles said. "We have to correct that."
5. Peake PerformanceGeno Smith got a few grumbles from the fans as he opened in relief of Fitzpatrick with 2-for-6 passing. But his third completion was a crowd-pleaser — an on-the-money 17-yard pylon throw for rookie Peake that, with Nick Folk's second PAT, put the Jets on top for the first time on the night, 14-13, with 27 seconds to play in the half. Peake had a team-high four receptions on the game.
6. D-Lee D-LightfulFirst-round rookie LB Darron Lee came in on the second drive of the game and gave every impression he belongs on the field. Lee was in on the tail end of a sack of backup QB Chad Henne that was started when DL Shelby Harris hit Henne first and got him stumbling forward. Lee also had one tackle for loss on a run and lost another TFL two plays later when the Jaguars were hit with a hold.
7. Fancy MetricsFitzpatrick said one goal in this opener was no turnovers. Accomplished — the Jets didn't turn the ball over, and they forced only one takeaway, but it was a key play as a last-minute Jaguars pass into the end zone was deflected by CB Bryson Keeton to S Doug Middleton, who ran the pick out of harm's way to seal the win. And the Jets, who battled some penalty issues last year, were on the sunny side of the yellow flags with only two penalties to the Jaguars' 12.
8. RBs Thinning OutMatt Forte, Khiry Robinson and Matthew Tucker didn't dress for this one, so after Powell got the start, the Jets had only Dominique Williams and Romar Morris at tailback. And then in the third quarter Williams left with a head injury, so the ball was in Morris' court. The training staff will be working hard to get the backs back in time for Game 2 at Washington a week from Friday.
Photos From Thursday's Preseason Opener at MetLife Stadium