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Good, Bad & Ugly of Jets/Giants Preseason Openers

The Tim Tebow era starts without much success

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Aug 23, 2012  |  Updated 1:05 PM EDT
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Tebow ran well, but his throwing may have broken the camera.

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The first preseason game of the NFL season feels like it should come with a disclaimer stamped on the bottom of the ticket.

"Events seen in these games are less significant than they might appear. The only thing that really matters is that no one important gets hurt, even though coaches, fans and media will make far too big a deal out of whatever happens."

Don't hold your breath for that burst of honesty, though. When you're selling tickets to fake games for real prices, it's all part of the scam to get people to think that games played for three quarters by guys you've never heard of are worthwhile ways to spend their time.

Get back to us after the third preseason game if you want any real conclusions about what the preseason means for the year to come. Now is the time for brief observations about new faces, trends that have lingered since last season and, for starters, a note about the real key to all of this that we mentioned right up top. 

GOOD: Neither the Giants nor the Jets suffered any serious injuries on Friday night, which meant that the night can be counted as a success even though neither team wound up a winner. For teams that already have been dealing with injuries to key players, getting through a night unscathed is a pleasing result.

BAD: We'll stick to the no sweeping conclusions rule, but the Jets offense looked just as bad as feared. The offensive line couldn't protect, Shonn Greene showed very little burst and dynamism among the skill position players is hard to find.

BAD: Terrell Thomas has one of those aforementioned injuries, leaving Prince Amukamara to start for the indefinite future and Amukamara looked pretty rough against a Jaguars offense not known for its ability to throw the ball.

GOOD: The Jets starting defense didn't give the Bengals much of anything, although a drop by A.J. Green in the end zone helped them keep the slate clean. The Giants starting offense didn't set the world on fire, but there weren't any glaring mistakes or weaknesses either. These are not the units to fear in our town this season.

UGLY: The NFL, which claims to have great interest in keeping its players safe, has chosen to have low-level collegiate officials oversee a fast, vicious game that they've never seen after locking out the regular officials. Giants punt returner Jayron Hosley was called for holding on a punt while he was returning it and Jaguars (and former Giants) corner Aaron Ross was called for facemasking while tackling Eli Manning around the waist.

GOOD: Jets defensive end Quinton Coples had a strip sack during a disruptive performance and Giants running back David Wilson looked good on both offense and kickoff returns. Nice debuts for both first-round picks, even with the necessary caveat that they were playing against guys who won't be on the field when games matter.

UGLY: The Jets got a punt blocked, which is unacceptable at any point in the season. At least they managed to do it on the first punt without Tim Tebow acting as a personal protector for the punter, because we really couldn't imagine what would have happened to Twitter and the Internet if he was somehow involved.  

UGLY: The Giants muffed two punts which would feel more embarrassing or shocking if it didn't just continue a long trend of being subpar on special teams. The Giants haven't prioritized special teams for years and shouldn't act like they're getting anything other than what they expected.

GOOD, BAD and UGLY: The one place where the first preseason game is actually an improvement is in the coverage of the Mark Sanchez/Tebow non-controversy at quarterback. Facing the Bengals at least justifies the kind of overwhelming coverage that has been given to Sanchez and Tebow when they throw against air at Jets practices.

Sanchez couldn't move the ball in his two series with the offense, although he threw a couple of nice balls and was hurt more by his offensive line than anything he did. Given the lack of Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley, it's hard to ask for much more.

Tebow's running was the only offensive plus for the Jets on Friday night, but he also flashed the arm that has made people who enjoy football cringe regularly over the last six years or so. He nearly got rookie Stephen Hill killed on a high throw and threw an interception that was breathtakingly ugly for a player at the professional level.

Basically, Tebow was what we thought he was and Sanchez remains locked into this netherworld where his own perceived shortcomings come into contact with the rest of the offense's issues. It's a safe bet we'll be revisiting this duo a few times in the weeks and months to come.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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