CINCINNATI --Tim Tebow made his highly anticipated Jets debut, providing a few Tebow moments but ultimately making a big mistake in the Jets' 17-6 loss to the Bengals Friday night in the preseason opener for both teams.
Tebow-mania: Did he live up to the hype? Yes and no. Tebow, who replaced Mark Sanchez at the start of the second quarter, showed some fancy footwork in the pocket, scrambling for 34 yards on four attempts. There were no designed runs, no Wildcat plays; it was just Tebow doing what he does best, dodging tacklers and making something out of nothing. His running set up the Jets' first field goal, but he faded after that. In four series, he completed 4 of 8 passes for 27 yards, throwing a third-quarter interception in scoring territory. In the end, we really didn't learn anything about the Tebow/Sanchez dynamic. In Game 1, they existed in separate worlds. Oh, by the way, Tebow had three plays on the punt team, with no tackles.
Sparan-O: The Jets unveiled the Tony Sparano offense and it was ... well, let's just say it's a work in progress. It was ground-and-pound (the ugly kind) with a glaring lack of explosiveness. Sanchez and the starters played two series (14 plays) and they generated only two first downs, the latter on a Sanchez scramble. He completed 4 of 6 passes for 21 yards, including three to WR Patrick Turner. It was all quick stuff, nothing down the field. They got into a few second-and-long and third-and-long situations, and the pass protection broke down -- two sacks and one pressure. LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson allowed the pressure and TE Jeff Cumberland surrendered a sack. Looking for a positive? The starting offense didn't have any penalties and didn't have any clock issues. That's called reaching for a silver lining.
Q rating: After two quiet weeks in camp, rookie DE Quinton Coples flashed a few times in his pro debut. The Jets' No. 1 pick recorded a sack, a tackle for loss and a pass deflection and drew a holding penalty on an inside bull rush. He didn't get a lot of action with the starting unit (only 5 of 18 snaps), but he demonstrated his power versus the run, doing a nice job of fighting off blocks in the second quarter. Coples did most of his damage against the Bengals' backups, so let's keep it in perspective. But let's say this about him: He did more in one game than Vernon Gholston ever did. He was one of the few bright spots on a defense that struggled on third down.
Hill Street Blues: The Jets went into the game with a lot of questions at wide receiver -- and they still have questions. Rookie Stephen Hill finished with two catches for 17 yards, but he also had an open-field drop on a third-down pass that should've been a first down. He played a lot -- 22 of 28 plays in the first half. They took a long look at rookie Jordan White, who replaced Jeremy Kerley (hamstring) in the slot in three-receiver packages. White was targeted twice and didn't have any receptions. Chaz Schilens, who started, also was shut out. Without Santonio Holmes (ribs), the receiving is woefully thin and inexperienced. It might be time for GM Mike Tannenbaum to start wheeling and dealing.
Special-teams blunder: Mike Westhoff wasn't a happy man. The Jets' punt team allowed a major jailbreak, resulting in a blocked punt by Dan Skuta and a recovery in the end zone by Cedric Peerman. It gave the Bengals a 10-3 halftime lead. Neither Tebow nor Eric Smith, the usual personal protectors, were in the game. Tebow was busy doing his quarterback thing and Smith was out with a left knee injury. Smith didn't start at safety -- LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell started -- but he's a valuable reserve, in large part, because of his special-teams ability. They can't afford to lose him for an extended period.
What's ahead: The Jets return to Cortland for their last five days in the upstate town, then return to New Jersey to face the Giants next Saturday night at MetLife Stadium.