Final thoughts on Jets 9, Panthers 3

Thoughts and observations on an ugly pre-season game:

Really bad offense. Yeah, it was dreadful, but this is no time to panic. It was a short week and the Jets did very little in the way of game planning for the Carolina Panthers -- at least that was the buzz in the locker room. So we'll give them the benefit of the doubt, for now. One more stinker, though, and we will have an issue.

Sanchez growing pains. Mark Sanchez almost threw an interception on the Jets' first possession; that would've been two weeks in a row. That is troubling. Sanchez was out of sync. His ball placement on screen passes was off the mark, and he admitted he should've done a better job of unloading the ball instead of taking those two sacks. This was a step back, but don't put too much emphasis on one bad pre-season performance.

Opportunistic special teams. A week ago, the Jets blocked a punt. This week, the special teams produced three takeaways, almost unheard of. Were they great plays by the Jets' coverage units or lousy jobs by the Panthers' return specialists? Probably more of the latter, but the Jets can be confident in knowing their special teams have big-play potential.

In the Nick of Time. PK Nick Folk all but locked up the kicking job, making field goals of 43, 36 and 49 yards. He was 3-for-3. Folk is proving that last season's train wreck with the Dallas Cowboys was injury-related (a surgically repaired hip) and not due to an erosion of his Pro Bowl skills.

Can't blame the defense. Ryan praised his defense, especially his backups -- the same group that got roughed up last week against the New York Giants. Two of last week's goats, Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman, came back with strong performances. Lowery made two pass break-ups and Coleman made the game-saving interceptions. Ryan said he challenged the No. 2 group. Consider the challenge met.

VG is OK. Strange, but true: Vernon Gholson posted a team-high five tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage. Give him credit; he was aggressive at the point of attack, shed his blocks well and made a couple of hustle plays. They will need Gholston to contribute on the D-line now that Ropati Pitoitua (Achilles' tendon) is out for the season.

Praise for Washington. Even though he lost a fumble inside the Panthers' 10, RB Chauncey Washington (eight carries for 19 yards) received praise from Ryan. Washington, resembling a poor man's Shonn Greene on a couple of runs, showed power and some burst. He's a bubble player who now has to be considered a legitimate candidate.

Busy leg. P Steve Weatherford may need a couple of days off. He punted 11 times for 481 yards. The Panthers punted nine times for 458 yards. More than 900 yards in punting. Oh, brother.

Crown the left guard. Let's face it, the so-called battle between Matt Slauson and rookie Vladimir Ducasse is over. For the second straight game, Slauson took all the first-team reps. Ducasse is struggling at left guard, a new position. Slauson got beat once on a pass rush, according to Ryan, but the job belongs to him.

A backup QB controversy? Mark Brunell's numbers after two games -- 4-for-10, 16 yards. Face it, Kellen Clemens has outplayed Brunell, but Ryan appears set on Brunell as his No. 2 QB. Does that make you feel safe and protected? Didn't think so.