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Immediate reactions: Jets 27, Bills 20

blog by Nick Mendola  • 

New coaches, fresh faces and a new quarterback couldn’t lift the bad mojo from a trip to play the Jets. Buffalo hasn’t beaten New York in New Jersey since a 16-13 overtime win in 2009 and there were scant few moments it appeared Sunday’s game was destined for an outcome that didn’t start with an L.

What makes it so hard is that the Jets did everything in their power to give the Bills a road win! Historically-frequent penalties and awful play-calling were the name of the game for New York late in the game (though they were smart enough to pick on Justin Rogers all day long).

Yet the Bills still consistently puked. It smelled bad and hung around, like when the janitor at school put the wood shavings on top of it (By the way, it’s an age-old question as to why the janitor didn’t have time to clean it up right away? What’s a bigger priority than bile on the floor of a classroom?).

So what went wrong? That’s why we’re here, folks. Let’s talk it out.

—EJ Manuel’s day was pretty poor. Inaccuracy plagued him on many of his good decisions and his pocket presence under pressure was pitiful. But it’s fair to expect a rookie quarterback to underperform at points during his rookie season. What isn’t fair is when his offensive line melts down around him and his receivers make more errors than Roger Dorn in a windstorm.

Still… how bad was it? At times it appeared the Bills weren’t even bothering to send receivers further than 5-8 yards up field, because Manuel either wasn’t looking or seeing further than that. A strong percentage of his completions occurred with receivers diving or jumping to make catches. Hopeful minds should entertain the thought that Manuel was under so much pressure that he couldn’t set his feet to fire an accurate pass, but do what you will with that… it was really, really, really, truly, sincerely, really disappointing. It’s also a rookie quarterback. Let’s see how it comes out after a few washes.

—Even during the worst performance of his rookie year, Kiko Alonso made a spectacular play. He’s just three games into said year, yes, but man is this kid promising. The Bills have been looking for a truly difference-making middle linebacker since pre-injury Sam Cowart (with apologies to London Fletcher-Baker, who was incredibly under-appreciated whilst in town). Alonso really could be that guy. He finished with 8 tackles and an additional pass defended.

—The Bills defense has struggled against the run in 2 of 3 games this year, and perhaps that’s generous. Bilal Powell’s career high for yards rushing was 78 heading into this contest. He had bettered that by the third quarter en route to 149 for the game. Too many times the Bills contain was locked up at the point of attack, allowing Powell at least 5-7 yards to the outside before initial contact. That’s if contact arrived before Powell scampered out of bounds. The run defense was stout up the middle, so the Jets stopped running up the middle. Simple as that. Roasted, toasted and ghosted outside.

—TJ Graham’s either got an attitude, intelligence or a football problem. His body language seems as troublesome as his lack of production. There’s definitely at least one problem with No. 11 and today his quarterback was a second. It pains me to say Rich Gannon is ever on point, but Manuel’s gotta keep the attempts in the field of play.

—Thank goodness Rex Ryan was so busy challenging clearly correct or hard-to-overturn calls that he didn’t have a challenge left when Manuel fumbled in the fourth quarter. It did appear the whistle would’ve condemned the recovery anyway, but yeesh.

—Justin Rogers was not awful for his first few seasons, but that was not the case Sunday in New Jersey. He was burnt so often he brought the name Chris Watson to my brain. That happened. Chris Watson. The punt-catcher. Thanks, Justin.

But wait, there’s more. At some point, shouldn’t he have been pulled? I know the team is very shallow in the secondary but the Jets, with the exception of one recalled moment with Nickell Robey in coverage, seemed to throw at Rogers for a solid two quarters. He was straight-up, flat-out picked on. Change it up, Pettine.

—Guard Colin Brown was bad for yet another week. Pro Football Focus has called him the worst guard in the National Football League. All accounts were that Brown outplayed the now-injured Doug Legursky in training camp and preseason, so is there another fella on someone’s practice squad, somewhere? Can the Bills find another Kraig Urbik?

—Some Bills fan in New Jersey should buy Kyle Wilson a beverage of his choice. This guy managed to out-“me” AND out-immature Stevie Johnson (!!!!!). That’s an achievement. The rub of it is that Wilson’s penalties were a mere sideshow to the Jets, who committed 20 penalties for 158 yards and, if I’m not delirious, committed three offsides or neutral zone infractions in approximately 2 minutes.

—I want to like Stevie Johnson. At some level, he’s the anti-hero of an indie movie, constantly making poor choices and behaving like an overgrown preteen fighting a bad case of puberty. He buys random folks groceries and seems to be a genuinely decent guy. He’s an above average, even good NFL receiver. That’s all I got. There are too many moments where a fan has to wonder whether this guy is worth giving some much leeway.

—Buffalo could not run the ball aside from a couple scrambles from Manuel and one 59-yard run that occurred largely because the Jets were too busy celebrating a stuff that wasn’t completed.

—The only thing that could make Marv Albert’s Sunday deficiencies worse is teaming him with Rich “Still bitter my Trent Edwards HOF predictions didn’t pay off” Gannon. Ug Lee.

—Insult to injury: whether they got the snap off with :01 on the clock or not, Manuel kneeled. He kneeled. Man I’m repeating myself for emphasis a lot.

—Injuries that insult: CJ Spiller, Marcell Dareus, Alex Carrington and Leodis McKelvin were all injured in the contest and did not return.

Stat-line I liked:
Dan Carpenter, 4-for-4 on field goals
— It was a stat. Plus I had to save Lawson for game balls.

Stat-line I didn’t like:
Jets rushers, 41 carries for 182 yards
— Remember how the defense is better now? Not here. Not today.

Game ball:
Manny Lawson
— At one point in the game he had 14 tackles while the second-place player on the team had three. It’s arguable that Lawson is the reason the Bills weren’t cooked by half. Oh, and Geno Smith. Geno Smith also helped.

Next week:
Back home for the Super Bowl champion Ravens, who looked strong at home against a 2-0 Houston squad this week. Joe Flacco could eat this secondary for lunch or an early dinner, depending on how long the Bills pass rush can affect the Ravens offensive line. I don’t expect Manuel to get much done, either. Baltimore, 26-13.

We all deserve another weekend day.

TAGGED: buffalo bills, doug marrone, ej manuel, geno smith, immediate reactions, manny lawson, new york jets, nick mendola, rex ryan

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