The Bills will be in an interesting game this Sunday against the Jets. The headlines this entire off-season and preseason have been trying to predict what the Jets will do with Tim Tebow. The answer will come against the Bills’ defense.
Defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt will have the most unique, confusing and unpredictable game plan of any team this season.
Nobody outside of the Jets’ coaching staff and players know what the offense will look like this Sunday. How much Wildcat will Tebow run? Will the Jets be going for two after touchdowns? Will Tebow be lining up at running back behind Mark Sanchez? The Bills will be the guinea pig for all of the Jets experiments.
Buffalo’s keys to the game defensively will all be predicated on making the Jets work for its scores. From what New York showed in the preseason, they aren’t a team that looks like they will score with ease this season.
Keller is Mark Sanchez’s prime target. He led the team with 65 catches and had a team-high 815 yards. The only wide receiver that had more than 30 catches in 2011 that is still on the Jets is Santonio Holmes.
The Bills would be smart to role coverage over to Keller and force throws to wide receivers. Sanchez will look to Keller as a safety net when he’s under pressure. If the Bills’ pass-rush is as good as it looks like it is on paper, Sanchez will be under pressure a lot.
Taking away Keller will force Sanchez into decisions he doesn’t want to make, like holding onto the ball too long or throwing to covered targets. Keller and Holmes are the only weapons on the Jets that should put any fright into opposing teams. Take away the safe option so Sanchez has to think about his throws longer.
I’ll be curious to see who will be covering Keller. Will they put a safety or true linebacker on him? Will they use Bryan Scott for that situation? They could have Stephon Gilmore cover Keller in nickel and dime packages.
In this division, covering tight ends will be critical to Buffalo’s success.
The Bills kept John Potter for kickoffs and Brian Moorman was pinning teams inside the 20-yard-line constantly during preseason. Special teams will be huge for the Buffalo this Sunday.
The Jets are a team that will struggle if they have to constantly put together long drives to score. They aren’t a team like the Patriots, Saints or Packers that can score at will, no matter where the drive starts.
The special teams also can’t give up any big return to punts, assuming all of Potter’s kicks go out of the end zone. Don’t let the Jets off the hook with gaining yards on punts, and especially don’t let up a score on special teams.
Dave Wannstedt talked about this being a problem during the preseason. He’s okay with giving up the six-yard gain, but don’t give up the 25-yard play. Just like the field position game, make the Jets earn a score. The more plays they have to run, the better chance they will self-destruct.
The Bills can’t let the Jets get away with getting big chunks of yards off of a play or two. The pass-rush can take away the ability to throw deep down the field. It should be exciting to see what Mario Williams does this week. Buffalo finally gets to see its prize free agent lineup in a regular season game.
As I said last week, my one big concern will be with Aaron Williams. If he’s as bad as he’s looked in the preseason, the Jets could be the first of many teams to find a weak point on the Bills’ defense. Again, the pass-rush can cover up a lot of problems.
The Jets ran for 264 yards in the two games against the Bills last season. Compared to the 549 yards Buffalo gave up on the ground to New York in 2010, that’s a big improvement, but obviously that’s not good at all.
If the Jets do, “Ground and Pound,” there’s a good chance they will win. If the quarterback(s), yes both of them, have to throw on 2nd and 3rd down all day, that favors the opposition. I’m not impressed with Shonn Greene or Joe McKnight and I don’t think Buffalo should have much of a problem slowing them down.
Buffalo’s run defense was 28th in the league last year, giving up 139 yards a game on the ground. Although it was a long time ago, the last time Wannstedt was a defensive coordinator was in 1999 when he was with the Miami Dolphins. His rush defense was 8th in the NFL that year. That would be a welcomed improvement to Buffalo.
I was one of, “those guys” that was clamoring for George Edwards to see a pink slip last year. The Bills hired a proven defensive mind to run a defense that struggled the last two years. We will find out quickly this year how big of a difference that change will make.
Like I said in the opening, nobody has any idea what to except from the Jets’ offense this Sunday. The Bills will need to be on their toes every play, especially when Tebow is in the game.
The Bills will likely get all the Jets’ offensive shenanigans thrown at them this Sunday. However, the way Buffalo reacts to what New York does will determine the outcome. Wannstedt has a tough task in his first week back as a coordinator.