Things are never as good or as bad as they seem in the National Football League. Today we’ll separate the real reasons for concern or optimism, versus the newspaper-selling headlines.
CB Dimitri Patterson is an Offseason Bust — Overreaction
It’s true that Patterson played mediocre in his first game action with the Jets on Thursday, and he hasn’t looked up to form during training camp. Still, his veteran experience should help him to maintain his composure through this rough patch. It should also be noted that Patterson has looked his best when not playing on the outside. That’s where he was featured against the Colts. Look for the Jets to test him out all across the defensive side of the ball, including the slot and nickel positions. He may not be the number two to Dee Milliner, at least for the time being, but he still does add depth to a weakened cornerback group.
Michael Vick Outshines Geno Smith in Preseason Opener — Overreaction
There’s very little basis to the argument, but controversy brings ad revenue. Vick played solid in his first game action with the Jets, but so did Geno Smith; neither put on truly noteworthy performances. Vick completed three of six passes for 17 yards. In retro fashion, he flashed best with his legs on a 14 yard scramble. Smith completed four of six passes for 33 yards. It was Vick who led the Jets on a scoring drive, but Smith looked more comfortable and decisive in the pocket than he did for much of last season. If anything, it was Matt Simms who bested the pair with 13 completions on 18 attempts, for 96 yards. But that’s why the preseason is more about performance than stats. All three QBs had their moments in limited action, but there’s little to takeaway in terms of comparing one quarterback to another.
WR Stephen Hill Looks Improved — Truth
Looks are often deceiving, especially this time of year, but the third-year receiver out of Georgia Tech came into camp with a new type of ‘swagger.’ After being deemed a project in the 2012 NFL Draft, Hill may finally be turning the corner in his progression. In one-on-one matchups against Dee Milliner in Cortland, Hill has bested the Jets’ top corner on multiple occasions, and his speed has only developed. It was reported this offseason the Hill grew an inch over the spring, and he’s slowly beginning to catch balls with his hands and not his body (one of his biggest issues in terms of drops). On Thursday night, Hill did not record a reception, but the most any single receiver saw was three receptions — Jacoby Ford, who played largely with and against backups. Once again, it’s the preseason. The next step for Hill will be improving his route-running, as he still has trouble getting open, despite his larger frame.