Many of the Jets' Friday night storylines in their 17-0 win over Atlanta belonged to the Green & White offense, Teddy Bridgewater's 10 points on his two drives and Sam Darnold's NFL debut and first pro TD pass.
Many but not all. There was the Jets defense. The first and second units were more of a stone wall, holding the Falcons to 60 yards, one first down and no points in the first half. The twos and threes were more bend but don't break in the second half, yielding 194 yards on 44 plays, 4.4 per play, but still stopping the Falcons' backups on fourth-and-2 at their 5, on fourth-and-4 just across midfield, on an interception in Falcons territory, and on the visitors' last drive to a rushed, wide right 42-yard field goal as time ran out.
It all led to, as we revealed after the game, the Jets' first ever preseason home shutout victory. And that was music to many Green & White defenders' ears.
"Sweet," said S Terrence Brooks, who was in on one of the fourth-down stops.
"Oh, wow," offered LB Neville Hewitt, who led the Jets with eight tackles and was the player to nab the interception, whose only other pro pick was of Tony Romo when the Dolphins played the Cowboys in the 2015 regular season. "That's something to build off of."
But LB Brandon Copeland was of two minds about the blanking. "That's pretty cool. I'll definitely take that," he said. "Don't tell anybody else, though, because we've still got a long road."
Precisely MLB Avery Williamson's thoughts: "It feels good, but I mean we're nowhere we need to be. We got to get back and get to work, including myself."
Preseason shutouts don't earn titles or playoff games or personal incentives, but the players took more out of the effort than just the goose egg on the Falcons' side of the big board. The Jets displayed a lot of crispness, unusual for a preseason opener, in tackling the Falcons, holding them to 2.2 yards/carry and no carry over 9 yards.
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DL Leonard Williams, who saw nine plays before the first unit came out, was happy with the Jets' penalty situation. They were flagged eight times for 65 yards, but only one was on the defense and three were due to referee Tony Corrente's crew looking for new-rules infractions, so it didn't seem like a bad flag game.
"We had few penalties, which I was proud of. That's been one of our challenges on campus, bringing down the penalties," Williams said, "and I think we really did a good job of that today."
Williams also liked the fact that even with the ones off the field for three-plus quarters, the team finished not only a victory but a shutout.
Added Hewitt: "We played good on defense. It's a start. As long as we just continue to go about our business, keep coming every day and keep working, we're going to get better and better."