Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets Week 1 recap

Photo from DWRI.com.

The long wait has finally ended, folks. The NFL regular season is alive and kicking for another year. After what has been a fairly tumultuous offseason with roster turnover aplenty, we finally got to see the on-field manifestation of new Bills head coach Sean McDermott’s much-lauded process in a game that actually mattered.

The opening game of the season couldn’t have been more favorable to the new man in charge with a home fixture against the already dismantled New York Jets. The Buffalo Bills came out victorious 21-12 and, due to the New England Patriots loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and Hurricane Irma, Buffalo sits atop the AFC East. We can all still dream for now!

We’ll take you through the good, the bad, and the Shady of the action in Week 1.


Photo of QB Tyrod Taylor from USATODAY.com.

On offense, the 2017 Bills will go as far as quarterback Tyrod Taylor is capable of taking them. In his first start under new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, there were a few positives to take. Taylor looked more composed in the pocket, didn’t bail out of said pocket at the first sign of trouble and managed to utilize the middle of the field in a more efficient manner. His tight window completion to Jordan Matthews in the first half being a great example of this.

The vertical passing attack looks as uninspiring as many believed it would. Against a better class of opposition, it will be a vital cog in helping Taylor keep the team competitive. The integration of the inactive Kaelin Clay needs to happen quickly.

While the roster looks almost bare bones in some areas, it does contain one superstar in LeSean McCoy. ‘Shady’ was at his supreme best in Week 1, ripping off a number of long runs and proving to be a dynamic post-catch weapon in the passing game. The Shanahan/Kubiak West Coast schemes have typically encouraged targets to members of the backfield so it shouldn’t be unexpected to see his six-target day replicated most weeks.

The most heavily-targeted player in Week 1 was tight end Charles Clay. It was encouraging to see nine attempts go his way but Clay needs to do a better job of his primary job; actually holding onto possession. It feels a bit cheap to talk about cap hits and salaries but, as the tight end with the sixth-highest average salary in the NFL, fundamental issues like drops will cast a shadow over any performance.

Photo of TE Charles Clay from buffalonews.com.

Continuity on the offensive line is always a good thing and the Bills returned the same five starters for the second consecutive season. The right side of the line struggled to get a consistent push in the run game but with the rotation of John Miller and Vlad Ducasse in preseason, perhaps the lack of cohesion could be expected early on. In pass protection, there were a few individual errors that caused Taylor to adjust accordingly but the pockets were clean enough to execute on the whole. Cordy Glenn only played 56 of 77 offensive snaps with rookie Dion Dawkins spelling the recently-injured stalwart at left tackle.


Photo from USATODAY.com.

The plan on defense seemed to concentrate on stopping the run and forcing Josh McCown to throw the ball a lot. It worked.

Against the run, the Bills defensive line looked stout, showing the capability to get off blocks and freeing up pursuit lanes for the linebackers. In total, the Jets were held to 38 rushing yards on 15 carries. In terms of pass rush, there wasn’t a lot of pressure to write home about. McCown was intent on getting the ball out of hand as quickly as possible and that affected pressure statistics. When the rush did get through, it had a dramatic adverse effect on McCown’s ability to be a competent game manager.

A trend that we should expect to continue in the trenches is rotation. Jerry Hughes played the most but saw action on just 79-percent of snaps. Every active reserve lineman played at least 11 snaps with Ryan Davis leading the way with 21.

Throughout the offseason, there was a lot of grumbling (myself included) about the situation that the Bills have found themselves in at linebacker. Week 1 cleared up any doubts about the direction the team are going in with Preston Brown and Ramon Humber playing all bar one defensive snap between them.

Humber undoubtedly caught the eye, registering 13 tackles in his what was just his 20th start at the age of 30. While not noted for his athletic ability, Humber looked capable of being a three-down, sideline-to-sideline backer. The entire linebacker group rallied to the football quickly and clamped down on yardage after contact. Lorenzo Alexander started at strong-side linebacker but was limited to 25 snaps due to the Jets throwing the ball out of three-receiver sets often. Some of his snaps came as a pass rusher in nickel packages.

Photo of LB Ramon Humber from newyorkupstate.com.

A completely revamped secondary will undoubtedly take a little bit of time to settle in. The new boys in the defensive backfield did have a helping hand with their first test being an impotent Jets passing attack. Despite the talent level on show from the ‘Mediocrity from The Meadowlands’, the secondary held up well, making some impact plays along the way.

Rookie first-round pick Tre’Davious White and E.J. Gaines held up well on the boundary. The pair saw a combined nine targets, allowing five to be completed for a total of 45 yards. White also dropped an interception chance. Leonard Johnson’s place as the team’s primary nickel corner was confirmed, playing 46 snaps during the game.

At safety, a solid game for Micah Hyde was overshadowed by a fantastic individual performance by former Cleveland Browns safety Jordan Poyer. Poyer, who signed a four-year, $13 million deal during the offseason, could prove to be excellent value for money if Week 1 was a sign of things to come.

Poyer had three tackles, a sack, an interception and a pass deflection during his Bills debut. Along with showing versatility, Poyer played the game fast and free from doubt. His tackle on Jets tight end Eric Tomlinson in the flats being my personal favorite, chopping down the 263-pounder with consummate ease.

Final thoughts

While it’s hard to judge a team after a single game against possibly one of the worst teams in the league, there’s a definite feeling that things have changed from the Rex Ryan era. There seemed to be a better discipline amongst the players, both in terms of personal conduct and schematic understanding. It was simply a relief to see 11 players on the field for all 58 defensive snaps.

It’s no secret that I’ve been critical of a number of offseason moves (and I know that I’m not alone in that regard) but I feel as though “the process” had a solid outing on the field. That’s truly where all of this counts. It’s going to take more than a nine-point victory over the New York Jets to convince me entirely but, just for the next few days, I’ll trust in the process. Sean McDermott has earned that much.

Editor’s babble: We’re thrilled to have Stephen Culley back with us to share his scintillating analysis for our blog. You can follow Stephen @StephenCulley.

24 Replies to “Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets Week 1 recap”

  1. Thanks for the article Stephen. Like you, I’ve been critical of the Bills offseason moves well. While the team looked more fundamentally sound, they still have a ways to go. I’m just taking it week by week with the Bills as we’ve been burnt by them way too many times over the past 17 years.

    • It’s my pleasure, Steve.

      I think we’re pretty like-minded. Evidence throughout the drought gives us pause for thought but we’re not immune to current evidence either. The positives are there to be built upon so I’m happy to give them my blessing for now (I’m sure Sean is thrilled.)

  2. If week one told me anything…it said be prepared for more of the same. Once they dumped Watkins, any hope of a surprisingly good season died. Preseason led me to believe maybe it would actually be worse…hopefully resulting in a top pick. But after Sunday, I came away feeling the Bills are right on track for another 6 win season and the 9th pick in the draft…aka the worse possible place to be…well, 7 or 8 wins might be worse, but 6 is still close enough to an entirely worthless season and far enough away from the top of the draft of landing a stud QB without some amazing luck or trading away their entire draft…and only then if the Colts, Bears, or team like them that feels they have their QB already, finishes with a top pick and trades it to the highest bidder. Long story short…big yay.

  3. Hi Guys,

    Just wanted to apologize for the bumpy transition to billsmafia.com. Our fearless leader Del Reid thought it best to separate the blog from all the other FAMbase work they do. It appears we lost some of the posts in transition, but hopefully we are settled here now and can focus on the season.

    Thanks for all your great commentary here. Though I don’t throw in much babble here (why ruin a great thread?), all your comments are filtered through my email so I read them all in earnest. Some great points made here.

    Being the ever (eye-rolling at times) optimist, I have high hopes this season won’t be a bad as some predict. However, like everyone… after 17 years it’s hard not to expect the worst to appear at any moment, lol.

    Take care,


    • Thanks for the update Robyn as well as everything you do for the site. We were worried that the site was down permanently (like the previous two sites we were on) and would have to find a new site to go to.

      As far as the Bills and the season goes, guess the Bills will get more of a litmus test this Sunday when they face the Panthers. I’m the type, it’s either playoffs or bust. Winning six or seven games has gotten the team nowhere except drafting in the same spots year after year (8-13 in the draft). I’d rather see them win 10 or more games and make the playoffs, or win between two and four games and pick in the Top 3 of the draft.

  4. What do you consider “as bad”, Robyn? Like me, I think 6, 7, 8 wins is the worst place to be in the NFL. A two win season is ugly, but at least you’re rewarded with the first or second pick in the draft! I would love to be as bad as the worst of predictions, if not a playoff team. IMO, a big reason the Bills have missed the playoffs for so long is they’ve been a little too ‘good’ for their own good. Mix in a handful of terrible seasons and even the bad front offices they’ve had could’ve tripped over some stud players at the top of the drafts. Then again, ironically, the Bills highest picks during the drought have been among the worst. Although I suppose Dareus wasn’t necessarily a terrible draft pick…he was more or less good enough to mistakenly give a huge contract to…but possibly the worst contract the Bills have ever given out.

    • Hi Joma,

      Thanks for your comments here. Tough question for me to answer. I’m a fan that ‘tankers’ hate because I’m frankly incapable of the mindset necessary to hope the Bills lose. I completely get what your writing here, and in fact agree with it, but somehow my mind cannot wrap itself around tanking for better draft picks. The best I can do is attribute it to old age… my brain just can’t be reprogrammed at this point. Love your comments here and the discussion you guys bring is terrific. Looking forward to interacting more here now the outside chores around here are winding down. Have a great day!


  5. Do we have to sign all over again?

    It was a disciplined football team out there against the Jets, a team they should have beaten. That is the type of effort and control McD is trying to install and build on.

    They are building a tough smart football team and the first game gives some relief on what we are to expect in the future.

    Now some are worried about winning a handful of games during the transition. Would you rather see an undisciplined team lack of fundamentals out there playing so they get their asses whooped? Or team that is laying the ground work for the future?

    Don’t get too excited about a win over the Jets as the tougher competition is on the horizon starting this week with Panthers on the road…

    • Agree completely, Goose. Not going to make any assumptions based on the first game regarding how the Bills will fare this year… I’m definitely seeing some positive signs for the future…

      What impressed me the most about the first game?


      It’s been awhile since observing a Bills team swarm to the ball and display good technique and fundamentals. I’ll start there and see what happens vs. Panthers :)

      • Here’s hoping that I never have to do again what I did in preseason last season; charting missed tackles. The count hit 19 and that didn’t include special teams.

        Long live Sean the Wrestler.

  6. Saw some encouraging signs and some not so much but mostly worried about depth as far as this year goes but didn’t have any expectations beyond 5-6 wins so let’s see what we have heading into next year’s draft. Looks like we didn’t lose anything with the changes in the secondary but lost a lot at WR even though I never liked Watkins as I think he’s soft all around. The LBs are old and won’t be around if the rebuild is successful. (Too bad as Lorenzo is one of my clients, nice family.) Worst off-season move was getting rid of Gilleslee? , it was like they were in win now mode and absolutely had to have a certain fullback, screw the future. Tyrod is Tyrod, he will keep you in some games but won’t win many by shear brilliance and not having any outside threats is not going to help.
    I did like the fact that penalties were down and the team seemed organized under a brand new coaching staff.
    So let’s all sit back and enjoy the games and hope we make incremental improvement over the season and we luck out and find the next Tim Brady in next year’s draft.
    Go Bills!

    • Hi BfloBob,

      Great comments here, completely agree w/your assessment. Good point about the penalties being under better control… so important. Maybe now Richie Incognito will try harder not to get at least one obligatory holding call per game … lol.

      Look forward to your contributions here. Thanks & have a great day!

  7. I didn’t get to watch the game (like Goose) as Irma prevented us from doing so. It almost seemed like Super Bowl 25 with different circumstances. I had to work the 12 hour night shift and to this day, I have never watched that game! Wide right just makes me cringe.

    From all the different website I have been reading it seems like we are on the right track. However, I. Need to see the actual games to see how the improvement is going. I like to think of myself as a glass half full guy.

    Goose, Bills Backers of Brandon Sunday? I will drive, bring Dino!!

  8. Long time, no see, Bob! I like Gillislee, I think he’s good and the Bills probably should have kept him…but I don’t know that I’d call it the worst offseason move. Williams looked like he was taking over that role well enough and they flat out cut him because they wanted to keep guys that play special teams. Ooh…special teams! Teams that focus that heavily on special teams typically don’t have much else all that special about their team, if you ask me. Anyhow, worst offseason move is not gutting the team and rebuilding the right way. Second worst offseason move was, if they want to win as many games as possible, unloading Watkins. The WRs had a whoppin’ 4 receptions Sunday. But who needs Watkins when you got Who Clay? No, not Charles Clay…Who Clay! Ya know, the guy that didn’t even dress… He was an essential pick up!

    Anyone hear the noise about Luck wanting out of Indy? Dunno if it’s true, but I would give the Dolts all my picks next year for him! The Bills would probably rather just bring in a FB or a midround draft pick in 2019, though…

  9. Eight new posts from this morning, glad to see almost everyone is here.

    Welcome back bflobob!

    Gary & Goose, how are you guys doing after Irma?

    I’ll have to admit that I liked the improvements that I saw on Sunday. The Bills tackled a whole lot better in Week 1 than in the two previous season under Wrecks. Also, the defense seemed to have all the gaps covered and limited the Jets running game to 38 yards. Nice to see them play fundamentally sound.

    Joma, I would do the same thing as well. Trade for Luck and get a speedy/durable WR on the outside (no brittle players like Parrish, Goodwin, etc…).

  10. One thing I noticed so far is that there have been no major injuries at this point in the season. Usually, we’ll see a season ending injury either in training camp or the preseason. I’m leaning towards it’s not by coincidence. Also, I noticed the D-linemen were rotated in and out of the game. Seems not just the defense kept fresh in the game, but also the whole team. We’ll see if this continues against other teams.

  11. ” I’m leaning towards it’s not by coincidence. ”

    Well, it is coincidence to some extent as it’s football and injuries can and will happen. Whether the Bills weren’t doing things as well as they could have been before, though…entirely possible.

    • That’s true. One thing is for certain, it seems the Bills led the league in the amount of players on IR or missed games for many years. Still way too early to tell, but it’s nice to see players relatively healthy.

  12. On another note, the CFL has agreed to no tackling during practices once the season starts. They are hoping to decrease injuries and maintain their 18 game schedule.

    Glad to have you back bb8!!

  13. Good morning…

    Losing Gillishee was a tough move as he has shown the ability to get the big chunk yardage.

    Down deep I’m glad the Colts are having Luck problems as they pulled the ultimate tank job to get him…Manning went on to go to 2 more SB’s and the Colts are now absolutely awful… They will fire the coach shortly and I would take the Jets or Browns over them!!

    Gary, I’ll be in touch about O’Briens. My daughter & her boyfriend might go also. I’ll take my own car but thanks for the offer it is appreciated.

  14. “Down deep I’m glad the Colts are having Luck problems as they pulled the ultimate tank job to get him…Manning went on to go to 2 more SB’s and the Colts are now absolutely awful… They will fire the coach shortly and I would take the Jets or Browns over them!!”

    I wouldn’t say they pulled the ultimate tank job…Manning was out the whole year and the team sucked. I don’t recall them unloading half the team. Whatever the case, I’d still take the Colts. Hire a new coach and if their new GM is even mediocre, they’re going to be good again once Luck is healthy and they have a half decent team around him. Unless they’re dumb enough to trade Luck, then I’d hope the Bills would offer up whatever it takes.