Week 8 – Buffalo @ NY Jets: Facing the Green Monster

This was going to be the usual Bills column but there was so much absurdity on the other side of the ball it’s impossible to ignore. The Jets served up the worst offensive performance I have ever seen. They scored 23 points, but watching this was akin to allowing the kids to play with the kitchen knives. Self inflicted wounds were inevitable.

The Interceptions.

The best description I can give of Geno Smith’s three throws is my immediate reaction to each.

INT #1: “If EJ did that he’d be on the practice squad.”

Smith was intent on getting the ball to Harvin regardless of the coverage, which was excellent, and threw the ball where only Gilmore could catch it. This play also showed the naivete of Harvin as a supposed elite receiver; unless he can beat you with speed his route running isn’t going to have an impact.

INT #2: “Where’s Vick?”

A worse throw than the first pick. Preston Brown had Jets tight end Cumberland exactly where he wanted him and there was absolutely no possibility of this play ending on a positive note for the Jets. Vick was still on the sideline, but his interest may have been piqued enough to glance towards his mothballed playbook.

INT #3: “WOW!”

You could have sworn the Bills’ safety was the target on this throw. At least a yard over Decker’s head, straight into Williams’ bread basket. Williams almost ruined the play by going within a whisker of fumbling the ball into the end zone for a touchback while diving for the pylon (just to show the bonehead plays weren’t reserved for the green side of the ball). Even Rex was prepared to concede defeat on the Geno question at this point. Vick entered the game as quarterback on the next possession. Although he led the Jets to a touchdown on his first drive, this was more due to luck than good management. Twice he was almost picked off, the first of which the receiver had to claw the ball from the DB’s hands and the second a tipped ball that dropped agonizingly close to Spikes.

INT #4:

Think of the third Geno pick but worse. An intentionally floated ball to a target in the middle of the field overthrown by five yards to the waiting safety. Vick sustained drives with his legs but was bordering on terrible throwing the ball, going 18-36 for only 153 yards with this single interception.

Which brings us to…

The Fumbles.

Vick was in the game and all was looking rosy for the Jets at 14-7. No, not really. They continued to stink, especially at the quarterback position, although the offensive line wasn’t helping much. On his second drive Vick fumbled the snap but recovered to throw an incompletion. The next play he fumbled as he was sacked, the ball popping out like a spit pea straight into the arms of a bewildered Jets tight end, Cumberland. Two plays later Vick was flushed from the pocket, gained five yards for the first down and fumbled as tackled.  Four Bills players played a quick game of Hungry Hippo, with Duke Williams the winner.

The Jets lost their second fumble late in the third quarter when still conceivably in the contest at 27-17.  The Bills proved the strength in depth of their defensive line with Corbin Bryant creating the sack and Stefan Charles recovering it. Jarius Wynn also chimed in for a sack and a near interception.

Asking for directions and other oddities.

The Jets refused to save the hilarity for the turnovers. Vick’s familiarity with the playbook was exhibited in one running play when he ran away from the running back he was supposed to hand the ball to. This turned into one of the Jets positive plays of the opening half as he then used his speed to escape containment and rush for a good gain.

At 43-17 and playing for time, Bilal Powell takes the handoff for a three-yard touchdown run. Vick, again demonstrating his grasp of the Jets’ running game, all but tackled Powell on the play halting his progress momentarily. Once freed of Vick’s attention he ambled through the first large hole that had appeared in the Bill’s defensive line all game. Cue Rex Ryan shaking his head and smiling. Even the Jets good plays were terrible.

The Jets were so desperate to keep the ball out of their quarterback’s hands they threw in a trick play on special teams that resulted in a Harvin being tackled at the 2 yard line. Harvin positioned himself as the kick returner while TJ Graham lay down in the end zone. This was the equivalent of your two year old holding their hands in front of their face and saying “You can’t see me.” Harvin started his return and shaped to throw as Graham stood up. A Bills gunner had accounted for Graham and Harvin, luckily for the Jets, held the ball and made the tackle.  Seeing really is believing so here’s the link http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000418602/article/rex-ryan-explains-comical-kickoff-return-fail-vs-bills

Not to be outdone, Sammy Watkins got in on the afternoon’s frivolity when he took a wonderfully thrown Orton pass for 84 yards. It would have been 87 yards and a touchdown but he was too busy prematurely celebrating to notice the safety behind him who tackled the rookie at the 3-yard line. Watkins and the Bills were breathing a sigh of relief two plays later when Summers pounded the ball in to retrieve the seven points.

As for the Bills. The defense performed like the top 5 outfit it is, the secondary raising its play to the high standards set by the line with the four interceptions and another overturned by replay. Special teams was more than solid, limiting Harvin’s influence while consistently providing an advantage in the battle for field position. The offense did what it needed to, avoid turnovers and stay out of their own way, albeit in a conservative and inconsistent manner. They were aided by the fact they started eight drives already in Jets territory.

Orton finished the game with four touchdowns and 238 yards on only 17 pass attempts. The offensive line did a better job in protection but still gave up four sacks. Three of these were after Orton had held the ball for considerable time and blame should reside primarily with the quarterback. The fourth was two unblocked defensive ends meeting to shake hands over Orton’s carcass, the type of play an offensive line gives up after the quarterback forgets to pick up the tab at lunch. Orton is 3-1 as starter with 1100+ yards 9 touchdowns, 3 interceptions. Statistically he is sitting firmly in top ten quarterback territory.

Oct 26
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford NJ (78,160)

Buffalo 14 10 6 13 – 43
NY Jets 0 17 0 6 – 23

Passing: Kyle Orton (BUF), 238 yds, 4 TD’s
Rushing: Michael Vick (NYJ), 8 car, 69 yds
Receiving: Sammy Watkins (BUF), 3 rec, 157 yds, 1 TD
Pigskin Almanac “Ralph” award: Kyle Orton (BUF)

About

Sean Walsh grew up in Regional Victoria at a time when only two sports existed, Australian Football in Winter and Cricket in Summer. Boarding school and University opened his eyes to a wider world of sport. A Buffalo Bills fan since 1991 thanks to Don Lane and his NFL highlights.

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