Running back Khalil Bell ran for two touchdowns, and quarterback Matt Simms led the Jets on four scoring drives as the New York Jets defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 27-20 at MetLife stadium on Thursday night.
“The one thing I’m extremely happy about is how I feel this team is coming together,” Rex Ryan said. “I think this team is really meshing together, and as I said before, this is what you want as a football team, you want your whole to be greater than the sum of its parts, and I think that our team is, and we’re going to need to be.”
Matt Simms, son of former Giants great, Phil Simms, played the entire game and displayed the poise of a veteran. And as a result of his commanding performance (33-of-44 passes for 285 yards), he may have just earned himself a roster spot as the third quarterback ahead of Greg McElroy.
“I don’t know,” Simms said when asked if he’s secured a roster spot. “I just know that I went out there and played as hard as I could and laid it all on the line. And we’ll see where that takes it.”
Simms played the full 60 minutes because all of the other Jets’ quarterbacks –Sanchez, Smith and McElroy — were held out of the game. Sanchez (shoulder) and McElroy (knee) were both injured, and although Smith was in uniform, he did not play for precautionary reasons, even if Rex Ryan wouldn’t admit it.
“We really wanted to get a good look at Simms. We really did,” Ryan said, when asked why Geno Smith didn’t play. “I think he’s earned that right. When we talked about it, that’s what we were comfortable with. Again, there are several factors that go into things. With us, there’s competition at the third quarterback spot, and we wanted to get Matt a lot of work. He was impressive.”
Simms certainly looked like he could hold his own as an NFL quarterback. Behind a back-up offensive line, the second year player was under duress throughout the night, but continued to make plays both through the air and on the ground — he might have led the team on more scoring drives had his teammates not fumbled the ball away twice.
Like the Jets, the Eagles also rested their starting quarterback, Michael Vick. Back-up, Nick Foles, started the game and completed just 6-of-17 passes for 62 yards. The Eagles offense was stifled by a swarming Jets defense led by Ricky Sapp and Leger Douzable. Both of the aforementioned had a sack, and harassed the Eagles’ quarterbacks all night. The defense also secured the victory when safety Antonio Allen returned an interception for a touchdown with under two minutes remaining in the game.
With the victory, the Jets finished the pre-season 3-1. In order to comply with the league rules, the Jets will have to cut 22 players prior to the Saturday deadline.
“When you look at the tough parts of coaching, one is when you have to make cuts,” Rex Ryan said. “We have already made the first round of cuts, but it gets tougher. When you get down to the final roster, you’re letting a lot of guys go that played today and can really play. As a coach, you want to keep everybody. There are a lot of guys we’re going to let go that can be contributors for us.”
Once the Jets announce their final 53, they will begin their preparations to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday at MetLife stadium in the regular season opener.