Sunday, the New York Jets (1-1) will be back home as they take on the Buffalo Bills (1-1). The Jets have had great success against Buffalo in the past, but the Bills are hoping a new era is upon them after spending their first round pick on quarterback E.J. Manuel and hiring new head coach Doug Marrone. Week three figures to be an even matchup, lets dive into it.
All eyes have been on quarterback E.J. Manuel who has done a good job in his two games. Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett have been smart in devising game plans that have not put too much pressure on Manuel. Running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson have combined for 58 rushes in their first two games. Spiller is a dynamic, home run hitter who is equally is scary running or catching the ball out of the backfield. Jackson isn’t at the peak of his career anymore but is still a solid number two back.
The Bills offensive line in pass protection has been the most impressive aspect of the offense, allowing only one sack in two games. The combination of Manuel throwing lots of underneath routes along with stellar play from tackles Cordy Glenn and Erik pears has kept Buffalo competitive.
Manuel’s “go-to” guy is wide out Stevie Johnson, who leads the team in targets, receptions, yards, first down receptions, and touchdowns. Manuel has still done a good job spreading the ball around to rookie Robert Woods and tight end Scott Chandler.
You may have heard of the guy responsible for running the Bills defense: Mike Pettine, former Jets defensive coordinator. Pettine has a talented group to work with, especially on the defensive line. Former 2006 first overall draft pick Mario Williams is the headliner at defensive end. After cashing in on a luscious six year, 96 million dollar contract, Williams had an uneven albeit successful first season in Buffalo with 10.5 sacks. Last week against Carolina alone he had 4.5 sacks. Tackles D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Austin Howard will have their hands full.
Another name to keep an eye on in safety Jairus Byrd, who is one of the top safeties in the league but has been unable to play due to plantar fasciitis in both of his feet. He has been “limited” in practice this week. Missing Byrd and cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist) could make for a huge advantage for the Jets.
Buffalo has done a great job covering up its secondary injuries by great blitzing. Pettine has taken a page right out of Rex Ryan’s book with creative and elaborate blitzes, coming from all angles with all players. I’d expect the Jets to keep running backs in the backfield to help with protection.
How To Win
With all the hype surrounding E.J. Manuel and the Bills, it’s easy to forget that this will be Manuel’s first road game against one of the best defenses in the league. Manuel’s best friend will be a nice running game and quick, intermediate passes. Antonio Cromartie and Stevie Johnson will go at it, but it’s unclear who will play opposite of him. The key for the offense will be all about pass protection. We all know it’s in Marty Mornhinweg’s DNA to pass the ball. Chipping Mario Williams at the line with a tight end and keeping a running back in the backfield to help with blitz pick-ups could give the Jets a lot of 1-on-1 matchups in the secondary.