Editor’s note: This is the second installment in a three part series that Dustin Haefele is doing, taking a look at each of our divisional foes. If you missed part one about the Dolphins, you can read it here.
The Jets are a more interesting team than I think a lot of us Bills fans give them credit for. Yeah I think their locker room will all but implode again this year, and before the halfway point Jets fans will be doing what Broncos fans did last year and chanting for Tebow. But just like the Dolphins we cashed in a solid zero wins against “The Sanchize” last year. So, how do we legitimize the jokes about Rex Ryan and the disaster that they call team chemistry this year? How do we win?
Step 1: Keeping it Average
Last year the Jets offense was nothing to be scared of. They ended up ranked 21st in the league in terms of passing, and 22nd in terms of rushing. The problem is that the Jets outgained their season average in both games against the Bills.
In game one the Jets had their way with the Bills dominating in both the passing and rushing games, the Jets’ offense looked more like New Orleans or Green Bay than themselves. It was an ugly showing for our defense, and one I’d like to forget. The second game we kept their passing at bay, holding them to 180 yards, but we still didn’t have an answer for their running game.
The Bills pass defense will be much better off this year, both in the secondary and on the defensive line. I hate to beat a dead horse but I think it is pertinent to the point that the Bills only had one sack against the Jets last year. That’s not even one sack per game that is one total sack in a combined two games against our New Jersey neighbors. This will be a much different year. The upgraded pass rush will keep Sanchez (and if we get lucky, Tebow instead) on his toes and hopefully shut down the passing game even more.
The running game is a different story. There is no major turnover in terms of run stoppers on our defensive unit. There are positives though like Kyle being healthy, and Sheppard gaining experience. Depth overall is another big positive with the addition of two rookie LBs, and the return of an already deep DT unit. The hard thing to predict is how the new 4-3 scheme will help run support. I’m not extremely familiar with the defense that Coach Wannstedt runs, but it will be interesting to see how his expertise will help to improve the run defense.
Like I said, the Jets’ offense isn’t a scary thing. If we hold them to their average both games should be winnable, but if we allow them to again go above and beyond an average week, Fitzy will have a lot of work cut out for him on the offensive side of the ball.
Step 2: Jets are more comfortable in the air
The Jets’ offense might fit better in the comic page than the sports page sometimes, but their defense is a different story. Despite how much it pains me to say it, the Jets under Ryan have been pretty successful in using their defense to win games. They had a pass defense that only allowed 201 ypg last year which was good enough to put them at 5th in the league. Their run defense wasn’t too bad either, ending up at 13th in the league and allowing 111.1 ypg.
The Bills only rushed slightly more than 20 times in each game, and didn’t break the century mark in either game. Fred and CJ clearly need to touch the ball more in order to exploit the slight weakness in the Jets’ D.
I can’t blame the gameplan in the second game as the reason for losing as the passing game was working phenomenally, and Stevie looked like he was having a day at the beach on “Revis Island” while catching the only TD pass thrown against Revis all year. If Stevie’s unconventional route running can catch Revis napping, that will help also.
But, as we all know, or have suppressed from our memory, we lost the game when our passing game was on fire just the same as when it wasn’t. The run game has to be their against this Jets’ defense. It is extremely demoralizing to have a team jam the ball up the middle if you don’t have a great answer for it. If the two headed beast in the Bills back field can get the ball rolling on the ground the Bills won’t lose either game against the Jets this year.
What worries me: Week 1 in New Jersey
I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that it worries me at least a little bit that we have to start the season off with a road game against a division opponent. This could either be a huge start that builds momentum, or a devastating loss after a hyped up offseason. Also, the fact that the Bills haven’t beat the Jets in NJ since 2009 doesn’t help ease my mind a whole lot either. In the last three seasons the Bills have only beat the Jets once, as the Jets have somehow found a way to secure victory, even when they looked like the worst team on the field that day.
What encourages me: Week 1 in New Jersey
The fact that we have a chance to, in week one, crush the Jets’ spirits and start the fist-pumping “Tebow” chants from their fans is an incredible opportunity! It could be just the flack the Jets need to start on a downward spiral (pun intended). With the excitement and energy that the Bills have had this whole offseason, and will no doubt enter that game with, it is hard not to be optimistic about how the season could start! If we shoot the Jets down this early, it will be the first step to keeping them on the ground all season long!
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