Jets 34, Bills 21: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – The Bills arrived in the Big Apple riding high after two straight wins and a 5-2 start to the season, looking to prove on a national prime-time stage that they deserve respect. They left MetLife Stadium perhaps losing it from many viewers, who watched the Bills get thoroughly beaten in a 34-21 loss on Thursday night.
It wasn’t pretty and this week’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly reflects that…
Zay Jones – Back-to-back games for Zay Jones in “The Good” section. The rookie is finally coming along. He caught two passes in the first quarter and took a couple big hits afterward, then on the first play of the second quarter, Jones caught the long-awaited first touchdown of his career on a 10-yard post route. I’d argue that his awesome Star Wars celebration was even better than the TD itself (yes, I’m geeking out). Jones finished the night with a season and career-high six catches for 53 yards and that one score.
Tyrod Taylor – We already know how good Taylor is at improvising and he did plenty of that on Thursday night. What was more impressive though was his ability to stand in a deteriorating pocket at times and deliver strikes all over the field. His final stat line read: 29-of-40, 285 yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, he ran the ball six times for 35 yards and a garbage time TD. We’ll give him a pass on that fourth quarter fumble. Taylor was simply trying to make a play, and really he was the only one on offense doing much of anything. In truth, this was the third consecutive game where Taylor looked confident and effective. Don’t go blaming this loss on him.
The Opening Drive – The defense did its part, forcing a Jets three-and-out on the opening possession of the game, but the response from the Bills offense was laughable. On Buffalo’s first snap, linebacker Jordan Jenkins raced off the left side of the line and corralled Tyrod Taylor for a loss of 12. Backed up at their own four-yard line, Buffalo committed an illegal shift penalty on their second play. And then on third down a handoff to McCoy went for no gain. It was as if the Bills were sleepwalking and it set the tone for what was a sluggish, sloppy night.
Another Scoreless First Quarter – Yet again, for the sixth time this season, the Bills have yet to score a touchdown in the first quarter. Twice – in their Week 5 loss to the Bengals and their Week 7 win over the Buccaneers – they have kicked field goals in the opening stanza. Buffalo’s six first quarter points rank dead last in the NFL.
Three Giveaways – For the first time this season the Bills lost the turnover battle, fumbling the ball away to their division rival three times. Entering Week 9, Buffalo had a league-leading +14 turnover differential and had forced two or more turnovers in five straight games. A garbage time fumble by the Jets kept the Bills from going turnover-less on the night, but it did come on special teams. Turnovers have maybe been the most important factor in Buffalo’s 5-3 start. They are 5-1 when they win the turnover battle and now 0-2 when they lose or tie their opponent in turnovers.
First Drive of the Second Half – Much like the Bills’ first possession of the game, their first drive of the second half was characteristically pathetic. They went three-and-out, which they’ve done five other times this season, six when you count a turnover on downs against Carolina in Week 2. Only twice has Buffalo scored points on their first drive of the second half and both came in back-to-back weeks against Tampa Bay (a touchdown) and Oakland (a field goal).
The O-line – Tyrod Taylor was running for his life all night, and while he was often able to make something out of nothing – as he tends to do – he was also sacked seven times. Five of those alone came in the first half. The run game was equally hindered by the offensive line’s struggles, as LeSean McCoy was held to only 25 yards on 12 carries, just four days after racking up 151 yards in a win over the Raiders. It wasn’t just one or two guys who struggled, either. The entire unit was dreadful.
Missed Tackles – Shareece Wright was whiffing more than Aaron Judge in the postseason, and a handful of other Bills defenders followed suit throughout the night. If you’re a young high school player who watched this game, it’s a good example of how not to tackle.
Zay Jones Injury – Fortunately the knee injury Jones suffered late in the second quarter didn’t turn out to be too serious, but live it looked pretty scary. To be honest, Jones may have had six on the play too had Jets cornerback Buster Skrine not tripped him up. Skrine was absolutely roasted on the route, which is why he probably stuck out his leg to try and slow down Jones from blowing past him.
Penalties – One of the only negatives from Buffalo’s win over Oakland on Sunday was the number of penalties they piled up (11 for 95 yards). Four days later, penalties were an issue again. The Bills accumulated 11 more of them for 99 yards this time in the loss.