Week 1: Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets
During the pre-season, we heard it all: the Jets have 2 starting quarterbacks and neither of them can throw the ball. One of those quarterbacks is a fullback. We heard that Mark Sanchez can’t lead this team, Tim Tebow can’t lead this team and, at times, pretty much no one can lead this team.
The #2 cornerback thinks he’s the #2 wide receiver, and the media was actually beginning to believe him. We heard that Jeremy Kerley is in the dog house, and Stephen Hill has bricks for hands. Oh, and a garbage can caught more passes in practice than Santonio Holmes. We heard that the offensive line is a sieve, a unit that is mysteriously sub-par despite the presence of 3 pro-bowlers.
We heard that Rex lost control of the team, and Tony Sparano knows nothing about playcalling.
After just 1 week of play, we are reminded once again of the meaninglessness of the pre-season, and we can finally take a breath from the collective stupidity that has imprisoned us and settle in for a season of hard-nosed, old school football.
Sanchez: 19/27, 266, 3 TD, 1 INT passing
Tebow: 5 carries, 11 yards
On the Jets first possession, Sanchez made a terrible mistake: he tried to force a shovel pass to Cumberland that was ultimately intercepted. After getting that mental error out of the way, Sanchez was nearly flawless. He hit on nearly all of his attempts and finished the game with three touchdown passes. It’s somewhat of a mystery, but Sanchez rarely eclipses 300 yards even in his best games. That was no different today, as he picked up 266 total yards through the air.
Tebow saw action early, but wasn’t a factor in the game. That’s alright: Sanchez was on his game today, so the Jets had to stick with the hot hand. Despite the lack of production with the Wildcat today, one thing is clear: the Jets have a lot of tricks in their toolbox and we should see more of them next week against the Steelers.
Offensive Line: A
The Jets new right tackle, Austin Howard, was the subject of much scrutiny in the days leading up to this game. However, his name went unheard all day today: and that’s a good thing! The offensive line was very impressive against an improved Buffalo Bills pass rush. They did not allow a single sack, much to the surprise of… well, everyone. They need to be more productive in the running game, so I’ll leave a “+” off of that A for now.
Running Backs: C-
Greene: 27 carries, 94 yards, 1 TD
Powell: 3 carries, 10 yards, 1 REC, 16 yards
McKnight: 1 carry, 3 yards
The Bills stacked the box and dared the Jets to beat them in the air, and the Jets did just that. Consequently, there wasn’t much to the Jets running game today as Greene produced a modest (but respectable) 94 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. Powell and McKnight were quiet.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: A
Hill: 5 REC, 89 yards, 2 TD
Holmes: 4 REC, 68 yards
Kerley: 4 REC, 45 yards, TD
Cumberland: 3 REC, 33 yards
Schilens: 1 REC, 8 yards
Keller: 1 REC, 7 yards
Despite an early drop, rookie WR Stephen Hill was the biggest playmaker on the day, notching 2 touchdown grabs. Jeremy Kerley added one, as well. Sanchez did a great job spreading the ball around and using all of his weapons to maximum efficiency, and the wide receivers and tight ends certainly did their fair share to help him out. Dustin Keller had a quiet day at TE, but he’s coming off of an injury. Look for him to be more involved in the gameplan next week. Jeff Cumberland stepped in nicely. By catching a single pass, Chaz Schilens proved that he does, in fact, exist – but not so that you would really notice it or anything.
Defensive Line: B+
They didn’t notch a sack on the day, but the defensive line was bringing pressure on Bills QB Fitzpatrick. Two notes: first, Fitzpatrick is quick – both to run and to throw, so it’s hardly a surprise that the rush didn’t deliver many direct hits against him. Second, Jets starting NT Sione Pouha was inactive today, but should be good to go next week – improving what may be the deepest unit on the entire team. Backup Kenrick Ellis took the start in Pouha’s absence.
The Jets defense was dominant in the first half, but faded a bit late. A lack of speed is the primary weakness of this unit, so expect Aaron Maybin and rookie speedster DeMario Davis to get an increased workload as the season goes on. The Jets front 7 needs to do a better job of sealing the edge and containing agile running backs like C.J. Spiller of the Bills. This unit simply does not have the closing speed to allow those types of players to hit the second and third levels of the defense.
The Jets have two new safeties on board, and their strengths and weaknesses were on display. While they’re both max effort, hard hitting brusiers, they both leave something to be desired as far as fundamentals are concerned. After recovering a fumble, Bell inexplicably ran around like a chicken with his head cut off, palming the ball like he thought he was Michael Jordan. He then compounded his error by lateraling the ball. Welcome to the Pop Warner League, Yeremiah.
For his part, Landry missed a tackle on C.J. Spiller by going for the strip fumble. That mistake cost the Jets 7, as Spiller took it to the house.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way: Darelle Revis and Kyle Wilson each tallied an interception. Acting like the #2 WR he claims to be, Antonio Cromartie also picked up an interception – and took it to the house for a touchdown.
The Bills passing game was virtually non-existent until the 4th quarter, when the Jets dropped into a prevent mode – of sorts.
Special Teams: A
Nick Folk hit 6 extra points and went 2/2 on field goal attempts. The Jets new Punter – Malone, looked fine in limited opportunities. The Jets downed one of his punts inside the opponent’s 5 yard line. Jeremy Kerley returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown. It was the first time the Jets put up a punt return for a touchdown in nearly a decade.
Offensively, Sparano mixed up his calls quite nicely. Everyone got involved in the offense. Rex and Pettine did a great job defensively, positioning their pieces to put the Bills in a proverbial checkmate situation early on. No doubt, the Jets coaching staff seized on the negative hype stirred by the media and used it as fuel for this victory.