It’s been well documented that the Jets don’t do their best work following the bye under Rex Ryan, leading many to believe that the break came at an inopportune time for a team who was just beginning to play as expected. In spite of that, Ryan opted to give his team 6 days off, 2 more than the required 4, to get them healthy and rested.
Aaron Maybin will face his former team for the first time since becoming a Jet.
(It should be noted that Eagles coach Andy Reid adopted a similar policy with his team following the bye and it was very successful. They looked like a different team).
Upon returning from their break, Ryan decided to change his usual post-bye week philosophy and greet the second half of the season with a tougher practice and more purpose. Ryan informed the team that the next four weeks are the be-all-end-all, and with a win in Buffalo they are closer to controlling their own destiny.
The 5-2 Bills now amazingly lead the AFC East after defeating the New England Patriots in a stunning upset earlier this season. For years, the AFC East has been the Patriots to win, with the Jets playing second fiddle and battling for a wild card spot. But now the Bills have emerged as a legitimate playoff team and while we celebrated their defeat over Brady and Belichick, their reign must end tomorrow.
The Jets have defeated the Bills in their last 4 meetings under Rex Ryan and have won 5 of the last 6 total meetings (Basically, the Jets have completely owned the Bills in recent years). But that don’t mean a thing this year because this is a whole different Buffalo Bills team.
I’ve decided to change it up with this week’s preview. Now that we’re several weeks into the season, rather than introduce you to every single player on every single team, I’m going to specifically focus on the key match-ups each week.
Here is how the Jets and the Bills match-up:
Jets Offense vs. Bills Defense
1. The Jets offense has to come out strong from the beginning. If they fall behind, they will have no choice but to get away from their best game plan : Set up the run, use the play-action, own the line of scrimmage.
2. The Bills have been playing good but not great defense in 2011. They have been mostly helped by their plus-9 turnover differential, the best in the AFC and third in the NFL, and their league-high 18 takeaways.
All of these turnovers are in spite of the fact that the Bills secondary is giving up 265.9 yards per game through the air. No doubt Mark Sanchez will have to take shots down the field in order to move down the field but the name of the game here is controlling the ball and eliminating turnovers.
In total, this Bills defense that ranked 26th in the league in total yards allowed (giving up an average of 385.9 yards per game). Avoid mistakes and opportunity awaits.
3. The Jets have averaged 279 yards rushing yards per game (6.1 yards per carry) vs. Bills under Rex Ryan. (More specifically, their rushing totals in the last 4 games are 273, 276, 249, and 318).
The 2011 Bills are currently ranked 20th against the run (120 yards per game), 27th in yards per attempt (4.9) and have allowedM 8 rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs. All of these things make for the perfect opportunity to get Shonn Greene going once again. With Greene’s success comes the offense’s success.
4. While the Bills secondary has been very aggressive, they have a very obvious weakness against opposing tight ends. The Bills have allowed 70-plus yards to tight ends in the past 5 games. It’s unfortunate that the newly acquired (and former Bill) Shawn Nelson will not suit up for this game but it does leave the door wide open for a big receiving game from Dustin Keller.
In addition to Keller, I would expect a lot of passes over the middle and in the slot. That means both Keller, Kerley and Santonio Holmes.
5. The Bills recorded 9 sacks in last week’s game against the Redskins, which is pretty scary. However, the Jets offensive line is healthy and starting to gel (and regain their swagger).
Secret Weapon: Rex Ryan hinted that we are going to be seeing more of RB Joe McKnight this week, including some time as a wide receiver.
Match-up to watch : Rookie Marcell Dareus vs. Center Nick Mangold.
Jets Defense vs. Bills Offense
1. The biggest obstacle for the Jets defense will be stopping Bills running back Fred Jackson. Jackson is averaging 103 yards per a game (tied for 2nd in the NFL after Matt Forte) and has 6 rushing TDs for the year.
The Jets have had some troubles defending the run this season, especially on the outside, and it has made them vulnerable to the big play. While there has been some improvement in the run defense in the past few weeks, stopping Jackson will not be easy, especially if Mike DeVito (the team’s best run stuffer) sits out again. Rookie Kenrick Ellis, his primary back-up, is also questionable which will leave Jamaal Westerman and Josh Mauga with the task.
Not only is Jackson a very effective runner, but he is also heavily integrated into the passing game. I have watched several Bills games this year and Fitzpatrick loves to check it down to FJax and C.J. Spiller. The Jets safeties will have to be mindful of this part of the Bills offensive plan.
2. Bills Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick
currently has a 97.8 passer rating (6th in the league). Unfortunately for Fitzpatrick, CB Darrelle Revis
is having an even better year. Opposing QBs who throw at Revis have a QB rating of just 2.9. He has been thrown at 33 times and allowed on 10 receptions in 7 games.
In addition to Revis, there is still Antonio Cromartie and the emerging Kyle Wilson for Fitz to worry about. Wilson is no slouch; he has the fourth-best passer rating allowed among corners who have been targeted 20 or more times (41.5).
While the Bills primarily run a spread offense with 3 and 4 wide receiver sets, I wouldn’t be expecting too much from Stevie Johnson while he is on Revis Island. Fitzpatrick will basically be left with Donald Jones (if he suits up) and David Nelson as his remaining receiving options.
I just don’t see Fitz chucking it around too much against this secondary and blitz-heavy front that have held him to a 62.0 rating in four career games. He is also not know for throwing a deep ball; 75% of his throws are 10 yards or less. If the Jets can force Fitzpatrick to throw, they will win the battle.
So, as I stated previously, this game will be all about Fred Jackson. Just..stop him.
3. Tight End Scott Chandler has been a huge red-zone option for the Bills. Because I follow fantasy football, I have noticed the trend is that Chandler is hardly used when the Bills try to move the ball down the field and then there he is, in the end zone. The Jets continue to struggle against the tight end and Chandlers size presents match-up problems for Jim Leonhard and Eric Smith. Perhaps we will see Brodney Pool cover the physically dominating Chandler here.
4. Brad Smith is facing his former team for the first time in 2011 and I’m sure he will get his chance out of the wildcat formation. The Bills have not run the Wildcat all that much but they must have a plan for it, given the situation.
5. The Jets also have their fare share of interceptions
this year with 12. According to Rich Cimini of ESPN
, the Jets are mixing man and zone coverages more in 2011, which is creating more turnovers. The Jets have also credited an improved pass rush for the change.
Secret Weapon : Aaron Maybin vs. the Bills line and Fitzpatrick. (Okay..so it’s not so much of a secret).
Match-up to watch : The Jets vs. Donald Jones (if he plays). How will the Jets account for the deep threat with Revis on Stevie Johnson? Could be an interesting mix of coverages.
- WR Plaxico Burress was limited in practice a bit this week because of a sore back (which apparently has been on-going). While initial reports said he was expected to be fine, he is officially listed as questionable. Burress did take team reps in Friday’s practice.
- DE Mike DeVito (ankle) was limited in practice this week and his status is officially questionable. He did participate in team drills on Friday, which is generally a good sign.
- DT Kenrick Ellis and CB Isaiah Trufant are both listed as questionable.
- Bills OLB Chris Kelsay is questionable for Sunday.
- WR Donald Jones is listed as probable.
- QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been dealing with chest soreness this week but appears to be a full go. Just thought it was worth mentioning.
I will update you on inactives as they are made available.