08/30/2009 11:24 AM ET
Scouting notebook: Battle of New York
Annual preseason game provides chance to evaluate locals
By Michael Salfino / SNY.tv
The Giants' defense attacked Mark Sanchez with ferocity, but the Jets' quarterback remained calm. (AP)

Let's expand our normal Scouting Notebook and focus solely on the Jets-Giants game, given that the starters saw their only extensive action of the summer and the game plans were decidedly less vanilla.

It's OK to feel excited, Jets fans. I know this is an alien feeling. And I know crushing disappointment has always followed. But Mark Sanchez continues to impress.

If I ever read or hear again that his arm strength is a question mark, I'll scream. He's shown an above-average NFL arm at least six or seven times already and has never once looked weak-winged.

The Sanchez good: The amazing heave on the jail-break pass rush with Osi Umenyiora draped all over him and two more Giants closing, off the back foot (while racing backwards) and finding a wide-open Chansi Stuckey on the dead run 35 yards downfield. He moves very well, has plus accuracy while moving and maintains downfield focus, the big "courage" test for quarterbacks. He understands that color is not coverage and threw aggressively to Jerricho Cotchery, hitting him in shoulder in the end zone, because the defensive back tight on him had his back to the ball. Later, a gorgeous slant to a well-covered Cotchery, a real laser strike, was probably his best throw of the preseason. Also, a nice back shoulder throw leading Cotchery away from the D-back and giving him some YAC.

The Sanchez bad: A careless toss into the back of the end zone that should have been a pick if not for a great defensive play by his receiver, Stuckey, who really looks like he understands NFL coverages.

Sanchez's counterpart, Eli Manning, looked a lot better than his stats indicated. Steve Smith dropped a perfectly thrown 90-yard TD bomb. Domenik Hixon let a pass go through his hands, resulting in a pick, even though coverage was tight and the ball was thrown too hard. Manning later averted another pick on a bad overthrow over the deep middle when Kerry Rhodes dropped the ball. There was also a series of pass interference calls against Lito Sheppard, who looked downright amateurish, that should find their way onto the stat sheet, too.

Vernon Gholston seemed tentative in his first action with the starters. You have to really look for him when he's on the field because he never asserts himself with his play. Later, he hammered David Carr when the backup linemen didn't bother to touch him but went helmet-to-helmet, a tough call. Gholston can't beat single blockers but is mostly double-teamed out of reputation, I guess. Maybe opposing coaches are Big 10 fans because he's done nothing in the pro ranks.

I was impressed by Mario Manningham's stint with the first teamers. He showed nice quickness against the press coverage to get right into his routes. Hakeem Nicks is getting all the ink for the huge numbers. But Nicks's big plays came against second and third teamers and not with Eli throwing the rock.

Three offside penalties by the Jets defense on the first series and 10 penalties barely past the first half showed an alarming lack of discipline. I hate defensive offside because it also shows you're are too excitable and tipping your blitzes generally when QBs are trying to smoke you out.

Darrelle Revis is a perfect player. Taking down that Frankenstein Brandon Jacobs one-on-one on sweep was so sweet.

Jacobs always falls forward on those between-the-tackle runs. But I don't like Ahmad Bradshaw as the default backup to Jacobs. I like Bradshaw as a change of pace. If Jacobs gets hurt, Danny Ware needs to go in there on most downs because Ware moves the yardage markers far more consistently and has a better innate feel for setting up blockers and getting yards after contact. With the inconsistency at receiver, Manning needs a running back that consistently gets enough yardage to set up very manageable third downs or eliminate them altogether.

Brad Smith is some special teams cover guy, which is good because he's not much of a receiver.

The Jets struggled on the goal line on their first TD drive. Running straight into 22 guys all piled up in that goal-line formation drives me crazy. You're running into your own players. I like passing out of that and running out of the spread like they did on third down to score. Well, at least I thought it was a score; I've stopped trying to figure out replay reviews.

The Jets pass rush looked weak, but I didn't see a lot of unbalanced line play -- the Rex Ryan trademark. He's probably saving his powder for the Texans. The Giants rush looked to be in regular season form.

Bart Scott's power strip of Jacobs without a helmet was old school. So was Kris Jenkins just obliterating center Shaun O'Hara to send Jacobs right into Scott.

This is such a Blue Collar Big Blue team. The power running game, great O-line, fierce pass rush, smart defense -- it's a team Bill Parcells would love. Remember, those great Giants championship teams during his reign never had any receivers of note, either. The Giants are going 12-4, at least, in a style that will make their fans very happy.

The Jets need to get Leon Washington on the field regularly. He's their best weapon and such an underrated runner. Thomas Jones should be the change of pace to Washington, not vice versa.

Michael Salfino is a nationally syndicated columnist and a regular contributor to SNY.tv.
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