New York Jets an unfinished product as NFL regular season approaches

Two weeks into the NFL pre-season, the New York Jets have yet to look like a functional completed product.

New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall, right, gestures to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick during their pre-season NFL game against the Atlanta Falcons on Friday night. Bill Kostroun / AP / August 21, 2015
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Two NFL pre-season games in, and the New York Jets are truly a work-in-progress.

On offence. Defence, too. And, special teams.

The starters weren’t sharp early and the Jets were called for an eye-popping 17 total penalties – including 10 in the first half – in a 30-22 pre-season victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Friday night.

“You aren’t going to win ballgames having 17 penalties,” coach Todd Bowles said after the game. “The effort was great, penalties were terrible. That was way more than I imagined. We got better in some areas. We got worse there.

“We’ve got to clean that up.”

Same goes for a few other areas. Ryan Fitzpatrick played six series, leading the Jets to one touchdown drive against the Falcons’ backup defence. The veteran quarterback was 13-of-19 for 118 yards, respectable numbers, but the offence was sluggish at times, particularly early.

There were two three-and-outs, and another drive that stalled after a 13-yard catch on first down by Brandon Marshall. The starters finished up with a 33-yard touchdown run by Chris Ivory and a 2-point conversion pass from Fitzpatrick to Marshall.

“I feel like, personally, I missed a few plays in my reads,” Fitzpatrick said. “There’s a lot of things I think I can learn from and get better from with my performance. We’ll look at the film. Against a team like that, the penalties are going to kill you, too. There’s definitely some room to grow after that performance, but it was nice to get the touchdown at the end.”

Another positive – no turnovers. Also, it was an extended chance for Fitzpatrick to work with the first-team offence and establish chemistry, acquiring the starting job after Geno Smith had his jaw broken by a teammate in the locker room.

“As far as him throwing to the wide receivers, I definitely think that it was a great start for us,” Marshall said, “but we definitely left a lot of meat on the bones.”

The Jets’ defence, expected to be the team’s strength, had some communication issues during its two quarters. Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ starters had a quick and efficient night, scoring two touchdowns less than 10 minutes in.

Linebacker Quinton Coples was in single coverage on fullback Collin Mooney, who caught a short pass from Ryan and rumbled to a 60-yard gain on the Falcons’ second play from scrimmage. That led to a 4-yard TD run by Terron Ward following a holding call on cornerback Darrelle Revis.

After a three-and-out by the Jets, Devin Hester took Ryan Quigley’s punt 59 yards before Bilal Powell’s TD-saving tackle at the 4. But, three plays later, Ryan found Leonard Hankerson all alone in the end zone after a busted coverage.

“We’re close,” defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson said. “A few plays kind of busted up open on the 1s. The 2s played pretty decent, stayed pretty stout. We’re not too far off.”

The backups held their own for the Jets, with rookie Bryce Petty rebounding from a shaky NFL debut last week. The fourth-round pick out of Baylor University went 12-of-19 for 168 yards, including a 13-yard TD to DeVier Posey.

“I think last week, I had no idea what to expect as far as the game goes, as far as myself personally and emotionally, how it would roll,” said Petty, who was 10-of-18 for 50 yards last week at Detroit. “I felt like coming in to this week, I would have a better understanding of how things went down and how things worked. I felt a lot more comfortable out there.”

Despite the slow start, the defence buckled down in the first half – albeit against the Falcons’ backups – and forced two three-and-outs.

Rookie Leonard Williams jumpstarted the Jets with a safety of TJ Yates, and Jamari Lattimore short-circuited a Falcons drive with an interception that followed three consecutive penalties called on the Jets. Rontez Miles scooped up a botched handoff by Sean Renfree and returned it 57 yards for a touchdown. With Atlanta trying to drive late for a potential tying score in the final moments, Joe Mays forced a fumble that was recovered by Deon Simon, sealing the win for New York.

“We have to progress next week,” Bowles said. “Hopefully, the penalties go down next week. We’re going to work our butts off on it and go from there.”

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