ReFo: Jets @ Bills, Week 11
This AFC East matchup featured the top two quarterbacks taken in the 2013 NFL draft. True to their draft status, it was EJ Manuel who triumphed over Geno Smith, with latter having one of the worst games by a quarterback so far this season.
Smith was so bad he was benched in the fourth quarter for Matt Simms. Manuel, on the other hand, didn’t do anything special — and got some serious help from his wide receivers on floated deep balls — but he did make one perfect throw for a touchdown to Marquise Goodwin who burnt cornerback Antonio Cromartie on the play.
Speaking of corners, this Jets defense just isn’t the same without Darrelle Revis. The front seven are among the best in the business against the run but they don’t generate a ton of pressure. That means the corners have to be able to hold up on an island in press-man coverage. As Steve Palazzolo noted, the duo have had some luck in terms of their coverage numbers this season, but in this one Cromartie was consistently caught in no-man’s land either playing far too deep or allowing receivers to get behind him. Dee Milliner has really struggled as a rookie, too, with his ball tracking proving especially problematic; surprising considering his career at Alabama.
It’s not really surprising that this game was decided by each team’s ability to pass the football with both front sevens proving the strengths. Let’s take a look at some individual performances.
New York – Three Performances of Note
There’s not much good that can be said about Geno Smith’s (-8.2) performance against the Bills. Ignoring those passes that were dropped, batted or thrown away, he was 8-of-19 for 103 yards with three interceptions and completed just five of 11 attempts on passes targeted within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Smith was especially poor in the intermediate range (10-19 yards) between the numbers where he was one of 3-for-17 with two interceptions. The rookie second-round pick was under pressure a lot (11 of 27 drop-backs) and didn’t respond well, going 1-of-7 for 7 yards with an interception and four sacks.
Overall, he finished with a QB rating of just 10.1. The interceptions will be addressed later, but poor location was as much of a problem. Smith had open receivers, he just consistently overthrew them. It could have been worse for the Virginia product as he threw a slant right directly to a defender only to see him drop it. There hasn’t been much good for Smith this season and this was certainly the lowest point.
Decline of Mangold
It’s always sad when elite players look to have lost a step. Nick Mangold (-3.0) has missed some blocks in the run game that he’d have never missed last year. After grading as our sixth-best center in 2012, he’s slipped to fourth-worst, particularly struggling in the run game. And, while his pass protection has actually improved (+3.0 allowing only a hit and 11 hurries), he still graded negatively in that aspect of his play in this game. He allowed two hurries on 35 drop-backs with the low point coming with 5:24 to play in the third quarter when Marcel Dareus beat him to his left for a quick pressure.
In the run game he allowed a pair of tackles around the line of scrimmage and would have given up another but for a missed tackle by Alan Branch. Dareus really manhandled Mangold with 1:05 to play in the second quarter when he was able to shed him on a run to the right and make the tackle after a gain of just a yard. The All-Pro has now graded in the red (-1.0 or worse) in six of 10 games.
Sheldon Richardson (+3.8) was considered a raw pass rushing prospect coming out of Missouri. He’s proved to be NFL ready and especially good against the run. Richardson played 60 of 69 snaps for the Jets and was disruptive throughout. He had four defensive stops in the run game in just 33 snaps and would have had another but for a missed tackle. The Bills’ interior offensive line just couldn’t handle his quickness and power off the snap, making plays even when he wasn’t able to bring down the runner himself.
On one play he was able to shed Doug Legursky to the inside and force the fullback to pick him up, leaving an unblocked linebacker to make the play. He was still a little more quiet as a pass rusher than is ideal (-0.6), generating just the solitary pressure on 25 rushes, but that was an impressive play. Eric Wood found himself on skates and it wasn’t long ’til he found himself in Manuel’s lap due to Richardson’s bullrush. This game will certainly improve Richardson’s Defensive Rookie of the Year credentials.
Buffalo – Three Performances of Note
In a game featuring some dominant games from defensive lineman, it was the Bills’ interior duo that really stood out. Marcell Dareus (+4.4) and Kyle Williams (+4.0) just don’t get blocked very much. The duo combined for two sacks, two hits, three hurries and a batted pass in 60 rushes. Dareus logged the batted pass at the line of scrimmage and also got to Smith rapidly on one hit early in the game (Q1, 12:57). Williams, meanwhile, had a crucial sack and forced fumble that set the Bills up inside the 10. Both players were heavily involved in the run game as well, recording four stops between them. Williams was active early in the game, stopping a first-down Jets run by beating Brian Winters inside and recording a tackle after a short gain. When the pair are in this kind of form, the Bills are going to be hard to beat.
A Byrd, Not a Plane
When Jairus Byrd (+3.6) plays like this you understand why he held out. The Pro-Bowl safety added another two picks and now ranks third overall among safeties despite only playing six games. His coverage numbers read: 10 targets, three receptions, 18 yards, three interceptions and two pass deflections… passer rating of 0.0 allowed. Wow. He was only targeted twice by the Jets and both passes he picked off. Both picks came on routes across the middle where he just read Smith’s eyes, broke in front of the receiver and made the catch. As if that wasn’t enough, he showed great closing speed on his sack. He added another hit as a pass rusher that was negated by penalty.
So much was expected of CJ Spiller (-2.1) after his tremendous 2012 but so little has been delivered. Sunday was a low point as he had just 6 yards on 13 attempts. No doubt he didn’t get a lot of help from his offensive line, but he couldn’t escape any tackles and picked up just 10 yards after contact. Spiller only failed to force a missed tackle in two of 16 games in 2012 and averaged 3.6 yards after contact per attempt. In contrast, he’s already got five games without a forced miss this year, is averaging just 1.8 yards after contact per attempt, and has more fumbles (three) than touchdowns (one). Spiller did make one play in the passing game — he showed a good burst to escape Milliner’s attempted tackle on a screen, coming up close to a first down.
– The Jets’ corners allowed six of 11 targets to be complete for 140 yards, two touchdowns and two pass deflections.
– The New York defense combined for a +13.8 grade against the run, only two players graded negatively in run defense.
– Buffalo’s defensive backs had a combined five pressures in 15 rushes.
While the Bills’ defensive tackles were had very strong games, Jairus Byrd’s playmaking gets him the game ball.
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