Having come from behind to beat the Patriots and avoiding a late surge to defeat Miami, a routine win like this for the Jets was just what the doctor ordered. In front of a sellout crowd, the Bills were driving at the start of the third quarter with a chance to pull within a field goal. However, it never really felt like the outcome was in doubt.
The undermanned Bills were without Marcus Stroud and Terrence McGee, and their lack of depth showed, with the Jets dominant in every phase. The Jets — who, let’s not forget, were missing some talented players themselves — never had any problems running the ball, made plays through the air and won the turnover battle on their way to a comfortable win.
Jets: Three performances of note
For those of you familiar with the way we display our player ratings, you’ll know that green indicates a rating of higher than 1.0 and red indicates a rating of less than –1.0. A look at the Jets’ offensive ratings from Sunday sums up how the game went: All green and white. Not a single Jet was rated below –1.0 in any category and ten of the eleven starters had ratings above 1.0. Although this makes it difficult to limit our performances of note to just three, let’s start with the offensive line, which handled Buffalo’s 3-4 front all day long. The five starters each achieved their best individual rating so far this season (+19.2 combined), allowed just one QB hit (with no sacks or pressures) and, led by Damien Woody (+6.7), paved the way for the Jets to rush for 273 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Also sparking the Jets’ running attack were fullbacks Tony Richardson (+2.9) and John Conner (+1.4). The Jets had only employed a fullback 40 percent of the time in their first three games and both had underperformed. However, on Sunday, they lined up with a fullback 65 percent of the time and each blocked consistently and effectively, creating some huge holes for LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene to exploit. Whether this will now become more of a staple of the Jets’ offense or is just a blueprint to run all over the Bills remains to be seen.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Jets were without Darrelle Revis again, but it didn’t seem to matter. Antonio Cromartie (+1.4) and Drew Coleman (+1.8) started at corner and gave up just one catch for 6 yards between them. Cromartie perhaps got a little lucky, as two of the five balls thrown his way were dropped, but Coleman broke up the only pass thrown in his direction. It seems surprising that the Bills didn’t test a guy that began the season so far down the depth chart that he was only on the field for one play in the first game of the season.
Bills: Three performances of note
With the dominance from the Jets’ offensive line, it’s no surprise to learn that there were plenty of low grades within the Bills’ front seven. The two who struggled the most were Dwan Edwards (-4.6) and Chris Kelsay (-4.9), usually lined up next to each other on the left side. The Jets averaged 9.2 yards per carry over right tackle.
On the offensive side of the ball, things didn’t get much better. They had more success running the ball against the Jets than any of the three other teams they faced so far, but most of that was down to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s scrambling rather than good run-blocking. Right guard Eric Wood (-4.4) was penalized twice and gave up three pressures before being replaced by Kraig Urbik early in the fourth quarter.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of all for the Bills was the performance of their starting wide receivers. Lee Evans (-2.2) and Roscoe Parrish (-1.7) were targeted a total of eight times, but caught just one pass each (for a total of 13 yards) and dropped three balls between them. If the Bills are going to recover from their lackluster start to the season, Fitzpatrick needs to develop some chemistry with his receivers, and fast.
Kyle Wilson (+1.0) was relegated to the No. 3 cornerback this week, but was again beaten for a touchdown. Overall, he gave up just 32 yards on six balls thrown his way, though. Conner’s good run-blocking was mentioned above, but he also caught his first NFL pass. Vladimir Ducasse, who played exclusively at left guard in preseason, got some reps at right tackle, as he made his NFL debut. Running back Joe McKnight also made his debut, rushing for 12 yards on four carries.
C.J. Spiller (-0.8) gave up a sack and a hit in pass protection, so that’s an area he will need to improve at, because he may be about to get an extended role following the news that Marshawn Lynch was traded to Seattle. His kickoff returning was good, though (+1.4). WR David Nelson (+1.1) didn’t play much, but caught all four passes thrown his way for 75 yards. Cord Howard got some snaps at right tackle in garbage time. Four rookies came off the bench for Buffalo defensively and played at least 15 snaps each. However, Torell Troup, Alex Carrington, Arthur Moats and Antonio Coleman all struggled to make an impact, combining for just two tackles.
On Dustin Keller‘s first touchdown, the Bills only had ten men on the field. On his second touchdown, they had the full compliment of players, but three receivers were still somehow open in the endzone. … Eric Smith, the Jets’ opening day starter at free safety, only saw action on one defensive play.
For a more detailed breakdown of this game, see this article from our Jets team correspondent.