In a game that yielded zero sacks, four quarterback hits and six quarterback hurries, Mark Sanchez took advantage of the lax conditions to fire the Jets to a huge early lead. As good as Sanchez was with no pressure, Ryan Fitzpatrick was the polar opposite under similar conditions. His third interception, a pick six to Antonio Cromartie, early in the third quarter all but sealed the game.
After an anemic preseason offensively, the vultures were ready to circle Mark Sanchez if he fell short against the Bills and their upgraded pass rush. But Sanchez and the Jets were able to nullify that pass rush, and capitalize on the bad Ryan Fitzpatrick showing up.
The end result? A victory even more comfortable than the score line would suggest. Let’s break that down.
Buffalo — Three Performances of Note
While much has been made of the acquisition of new players for the defense in the offseason, nothing may improve the defense than the return of one man. After missing most of 2011, Kyle Williams (+3.6) picked up where he left off, routinely embarrassing Jets left guard Matt Slauson to the tune of five tackles and three defensive stops, as well as getting one of the two hits Buffalo had on Mark Sanchez. Helped out by linebackers Nick Barnett (+4.0 run defense) and Arthur Moats (+2.8 run defense), the Bills run stuffing unit left few holes for Shonn Greene and company to exploit. Even if the day didn’t go as planned there is some reason to be positive for the future.
There are no mitigating circumstances. No injuries to blame it on, no reason to offer up an excuse. Ryan Fitzpatrick (-5.4) was just poor.
More worryingly he was poor when there was no pressure on him whatsoever. Dropping back 21 times under no pressure, he completed just 57% of those passes and threw two interceptions. The Harvard grad again has us asking questions of his decision making with his pick six to Antonio Cromartie being the kind of play that even days after it will have Bills fans shaking their head in disbelief.
It’s kind of telling that the most exciting play he made wasn’t a throw, or even a scramble. It was a block downfield where Fitzpatrick looked primed to take out all his frustration on whatever Jet defender would get in his way. Like most things on the day, it didn’t quite work out that way for him.
After a year and a half of not meeting the lofty expectations of a high draft pick, C.J. Spiller was able to step up when Fred Jackson went down with an injury over the second half of 2011. History repeated itself when Jackson picked up a knock in the 2nd quarter, and once again he took full advantage. Just three plays after Jackson limped off, Spiller unleashed a 56 yard touchdown run, that was the epitome of his work on this day. Fast, decisive and utterly elusive, he picked up a 475 elusive rating for this game alone, after forcing eight missed tackles. He let himself down with a controversial fumble, but there’s no denying that when he gets the ball in his hands things happen.
NY Jets – Three Performances of Note
Not Just Revis Island
Much had been made of Stevie Johnson’s track record against Darrelle Revis (+3.3) before the two squared off on Sunday. Although Johnson was nursing a troublesome groin injury, it’s no longer a question if Stevie “owns” Revis. When they were matched up against one another, Fitzpatrick threw at Revis seven times, completing just two of those passes for 14 yards, with Revis picking on him for an interception and deflecting another pass. While he was ably supported in this game it has to concern the Jets that Bart Scott took to using his head for practicing kickoffs, with any lingering effects likely to have a profound impact on the way this team plays D.
Bart Scott’s Decline
Always a favorite of Rex Ryan, Bart Scott (-2.6) snaps started to decline last season as he started to slow-down at age 31. This season didn’t start out so well him for either. Although he finished the afternoon with three defensive stops, he missed four tackles along the way as he was left grasping at thin air when matched up with Spiller in the open field. Is this indicative of a continued decline, or just a case of the wrong player, being in the wrong place, at the wrong time? Time will tell but if Scott wants to stay a big part of the defense he’ll need to improve.
Today he is The Sanchize
With Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill , Dustin Keller and Jeremy Kerley all receiving between 22 to 44 snaps in the game, Mark Sanchez (+2.8 passing) was able to spread the ball around and look pretty good doing it. But, the Jets offensive line should get considerable credit for standing up well to the 4 man pass rush of the Bills. When D’Brickashaw Ferguson (-1.9) is the main culprit on the offensive line for allowing two quarterback hurries, it’s easy to see why Sanchez was able to sit in the pocket, run through his reads, and find an open target. Of course, on one of the only plays he was chased from the pocket, he threw an ugly interception. So, after one game, we still have to play wait-and-see with Sanchez; can he stand in the pocket under pressure and deliver strikes down the field? For now though Jets fans should sit back and enjoy how in sync everything looked.
– In the duel between Jets right tackle Austin Howard and Bills defensive end Mario Williams, Howard only gave up the one quarterback hit all game long.
– In a matchup of highly drafted rookies, Stephen Hill bested Stephon Gilmore. When Gilmore was matched up with Hill, Sanchez threw Hill’s way four times, with the rookie receiver hauling in three catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.
– The Bills rookie offensive tackle Cordy Glenn (+1.8) impressed in his debut, allowing just one quarterback hurry while protecting Ryan Fitzpatrick’s blind side.
PFF Game ball
You can only beat what’s in front of you and while he didn’t face much pressure on the field, Mark Sanchez stood up tall and delivered the kind of commanded performance this team needed.