Jets fans were booing.
And they had every right. After paying full fare for tickets, and parking, and (hopefully) beer, they were forced to watch the Jets offense.
But at least the Jets are consistent.
Even after getting a turnover and a short field (taking over at the Panthers 12-yard line), the Jets starting offense continued to pitch a shutout in the preseason, failing to get into the end zone.
If you’re scoring at home (and they’re not, or on the road either), that’s 15 possessions for the starters in the preseason, and no touchdowns. The backups haven’t scored either, leaving no hope that personnel changes are going to fix things.
While it’s easy to rail on quarterback Mark Sanchez, it’s misguided as well, as he suffered through several dropped passes. They actually looked competent early in the game running no-huddle, but that didn’t last long.
But Sanchez was unnecessarily glib on the sidelines, joking with Michelle Tafoya that they were saving all their touchdowns for the regular season.
For it to have been funny, there would have to be an expectation this wasn’t actually what they are.
The good news is the Jets defense was strong.
It better be.
Here are some other things we learned on Sunday Night Football.
1. There were cheers when Tim Tebow took the field.
I’m not sure anymore if they were sarcastic or sincere.
Of course, when he got a few plays under his belt, they were booing him too. Those were sincere.
The Jets night in a nutshell was when he jumped up to celebrate a surprising first-down scramble, and a few plays later, threw an ugly pick.
End well, this will not.
2. Cam Newton can make plays even without a gaudy stat line.
He was a positively Tebowian 6-of-15 passing for 60 yards and a touchdown, and ran twice for 16 yards.
But he makes the Panthers offense move.
They don’t want him to run as much on purpose this year, but the threat of him making a decision on a zone read is enough to freeze opponents for a second and buy time for him to do something else with it.
3. There should have been more cheers for Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, playing his first preseason game since his surgery to repair his third torn ACL.
Davis has incredible gifts, or had them before his knee was shredded. He can still run well, and the Panthers are going to spot him in rather than try to ask him to play every snap.
As a blitzer and a guy who can drop back and cover tight ends, he’s still good.
But they’ll probably never stop holding their breath every time he hits the ground.
4. The Jets offense has problems, but they are not without players on that side. Problem is, they’re all getting hurt.
Tight end Dustin Keller left the game early with a hamstring problem, and then backup Josh Baker was take off with a right knee injury.
Whether it’s Sanchez or Tebow, the Jets need safe passes. And without a solid tight end out there (or even his backup), they have issues.
They should sign Jeremy Shockey, for comic relief if nothing else.
5. Not a banner night for the Panthers highly paid stable of running backs.
DeAngelo Williams fumbled twice, Jonathan Stewart was hauled off on a cart with an ankle injury, and Mike Tolbert was on the bench with a bag of ice on his knee.
Armond Smith and Josh Vaughan are up for contract extensions next.
6. The Jets got consistent pressure up front from their starting defense.
Quinton Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson in particular got a good push on a Panthers line that’s at least above average and may be very good.
They’re going to be asked to carry a team, and they may be able to.
7. The Panthers have apparently elected to go with slow and steady over athletic ability at free safety.
Former Ravens backup Haruki Nakamura (who was stuck behind some guy named Ed Reed) got the start and took all the work with the first offense.
Former second-round pick Sherrod Martin, who unlike Nakamura has range, is now a bench warmer.
This was initially a competition, but it appears the Panthers have made their decision. Martin’s such a better athlete it’s comical, but he had a series of gaffes in coverage last year that even had the owner cracking on him.
Basically, they’re electing to go with a limitation they can plan on rather than guessing where the more talented Martin will be.
8. The Panthers offense wasn’t very good either. But unlike the Jets, they had a reason.
Without wide receiver Steve Smith, the Panthers offense is completely different. He’s the vertical threat that makes everything else work.
The good news is, he’s going to be OK after dealing with an infection in his foot.