ReFo: Jets @ Bills, Week 17
Ben Stockwell breaks down how Mark Sanchez struggled and Chan Gailey ended his time in Buffalo with a win.
ReFo: Jets @ Bills, Week 17
If you were so inclined you could be incredibly sarcastic or disingenuous when talking about this Week 17 encounter between the listing Buffalo Bills and hapless New York Jets as something deeply meaningful. If you were speaking accurately then it was a game for both franchises to get out of the way and move on to a much needed off-season to revitalize their flagging fortunes.
Chan Gailey at least got to go out with a win as the Bills snapped a six game losing streak against the New York Jets though it still couldn’t stop them from finishing last in the AFC East for the fifth straight season. After looking early like the Jets were just going to hand the ball off all game and run the Bills into the ground the Jets went with the dubious tactic of allowing Mark Sanchez to pass the football and the game unraveled from there for New York.
It was then left to Buffalo to simply make enough plays to overcome a lackluster Jets team and secure their sixth win of the season. Here is a look at how these two teams signed off in 2012.
New York – Three Performances of Note
Sanchez – The final act?
Ultimately the finances and cap implications of his contract extension from last summer will have the final say in whether this was Mark Sanchez’s final game for gang green but if it was then this was a fitting note to go out on based on his career progression. Sanchez had the running game early on to set up what should have been a solid game working off of play action with the Bills having to compensate for their defensive line getting bullied up front by the Jets offensive line. However that game simply never transpired and from the moment Sanchez threw another lousy pick six it was just another late season debacle from the Jets’ maligned signal caller. In his last four starts Sanchez amassed a quite catastrophic -15.1 overall grade and in that time completed a depressingly disappointing 50.5% of his passes. Even if the cap hit would be extreme is it not reaching the point where the Jets simply need to cut their losses with Sanchez whatever the cost?
Ground game set things up
As mentioned the Jets had the ground game humming on the first drive and they were really starting to boss a Bills’ defensive line that hasn’t consistently lived up to the hype of being the best defensive front in football this season. Nick Mangold (+4.3) closed out the season with one of his best games of the year as he controlled things inside and Brandon Moore (+3.1) also had an excellent game as a run blocker. However when things started to get away from them the running game started to lose a little bit of that physical edge and once they were in chase mode that fine start to the game was long forgotten.
It was his fellow safety LaRon Landry (-2.0) who got the dubious Pro Bowl nod in last week’s announcements but on Sunday Yeremiah Bell (-4.0) drew the attention for all the wrong reasons as he contributed a disappointing four missed tackles – more than he made. For much of this season Bell has been a fairly consistent presence in the secondary for the Jets, not pulling up any trees with his performances but at the same time not allowing the big plays that have at times dogged the Jets’ safeties in recent times. However his final display of the season won’t be one to remember as he not only racked up a many missed tackles as he registered in the first ten weeks of the season but also registered his first multiple missed tackle display as a New York Jet. The Jets and Bell certainly did not finish strong this season.
Buffalo – Three Performances of Note
Man coverage? No problem
Even though his favorite adversary Darrelle Revis was absent for this New York/Buffalo rivalry game Stevie Johnson (+3.1) still found the time to excel as a receiver against the Jets’ coverages. This time it was Antonio Cromartie who picked Johnson up for the most of the game and as with his matchups against Revis, Johnson didn’t allow a solid game from the Jets’ top corner to stop him getting some productivity. Johnson closed out the season with some excellent grabs against Cromartie, Eric Smith and Darrin Walls. The pair of catches against the latter two more than doubled his receiving yardage giving him his second 100 yard receiving game in the final three weeks of the season and took him over 1,000 receiving yards for the third straight season.
Mixed bag to end a fine season for Spiller
In what turned out to be a very much under-appreciated season, snubbed in terms of a Pro Bowl selection, C.J. Spiller (-2.2) ended the season with a mixed display as he contributed big plays to both teams on the day. The Jets keyed on Spiller in the run game to try and prevent the big breakaway runs, which in spite of Spiller’s best efforts to find space they succeeded in doing. However what they couldn’t do was curtail his impact in the passing game where he took a slot screen for 66 yards using his vision and blazing speed to expose and capitalize on some dreadful pursuit angles by the Jets’ defense. However to counterbalance that big play he also coughed up the football for only the third time this season and the first time since the Bills’ Week 4 defeat at home to New England. Even so Spiller still finishes the season with an astonishing 6.0 yards per carry and a further 474 yards as a receiver. Will a new offensive coordinator feature Spiller even more in 2013?
Sign of good things to come?
Whilst Stephon Gilmore (-0.2) has offered a solid rookie season on the whole the other corner spot has been somewhat of a sore topic for the Bills. However with a strong display to close the season Aaron Williams has finished the season with some promise as a coverage defender. Since returning to the lineup in the Bills’ Week 15 loss to the Seahawks the second year corner has allowed only five completions on 14 targets and only Braylon Edwards’ excellent grab for 19 yards in this game has been a completion of any great consequence.
He also added his first pass defense since Week 3 and closes the season allowing just more than 55% of targets into his coverage to be completed. There is clearly still plenty more tinkering to be done with the Bills’ corner corps in the off-season and as a recent second round pick Williams figures to get the opportunity to re-stake his claim to be a starter on opening day next season. He will need to ensure that he doesn’t start next season as he did this season however when he conceded five touchdowns in a span of four games from Week 2 to Week 5.
– On passes outside the left numbers and deeper than 10 yards Mark Sanchez went 1-of-8 for 40 yards in this game.
– With a yards per carry average of 2.6 in this game C.J. Spiller was held to less than 4.0 yards per carry in a single game for only the second time all season. The 49ers held Spiller to 3.4 yards per carry on 7 carries in Week 5.
– Rookie linebacker Nigel Bradham (+1.7) recorded a season (and thus career) high four defensive stops as he rounded out his debut season with another solid display.
PFF Game Ball
One of the few players to walk away from this game with any credit was Stevie Johnson whose consistency helped keep the Bills offense just enough to ensure the victory.
Ben Stockwell | Director of Analysis
Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.