New York Jets vs Buffalo Bills: Takeaways from New York's 34-14 Loss to Buffalo
Geno Smith reverted back to his turnover-happy ways, operating behind a porous offensive line. Meanwhile, the defense struggled mightily against the pass, as the addition of Ed Reed did nothing to prevent big aerial plays from happening against them.
Here are this week's takeaways from the blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Doubt Creeping in on Geno Smith
After a string of underwhelming performances, it is officially time to start wondering whether or not Geno Smith can truly be the quarterback of the future for the Jets.
Smith does not deserve all of the blame for this week's loss. He was given very shoddy protection and was playing from behind for the entire game.
The most concerning aspect of Smith's game is that it has hardly improved since the first month of the season. The talented rookie should be improving with each week (especially with several of his offensive weapons back), not regressing.
This is not to overreact to one loss, but the Jets have no reason to anoint Smith as their permanent starter based on how he has played over the past month.
Antonio Cromartie Will Be Cut After the Season
Dee Milliner has received the bulk of the blame for the Jets' secondary woes, but the play of veteran Antonio Cromartie has been even more disappointing.
Cromartie refused to play physical bum-and-run coverage at the line of scrimmage, as he gave up a long touchdown to Marquise Goodwin that would seal the game.
Cromartie's best asset is supposed to be his speed, and he has clearly lost a step. He is reverting to his old techniques that got him shipped out of San Diego in the first place.
With such a big cap number next year, there is almost no chance that the Jets would be willing to overpay for average play at the cornerback position. Unless Cromartie makes a remarkable turnaround over the next month or so, this will be his final year with the Jets.
Cromartie is toast. Just done. $14.98 mil cap hit next year. Worth about 1.5 mil right now http://t.co/BBmnNoMRMk— nyjetscap (@nyjetscap) November 17, 2013
Pass Protection Is Dreadful
As bad as Smith was in this game, his offensive line set him up for failure.
The Jets line was beat in every way possible, whether it be on simple stunts, blitzes or one-on-one situations.
Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine had their protection schemes figured out, and the Jets simply did not adjust. As a result, their quarterback was off his rhythm for the entire game as the Jets struggled to get first downs.
Some of the blame may go on Smith for not adjusting protection schemes properly (it is impossible for us to know for sure), but this line must make massive improvements if the Jets plan on scoring against anyone.
The Jets Are Better with Santonio Holmes
Any notion that the Jets are better off without their best offensive player needs to stop.
As much of an oddball Santonio Holmes can be at times, there is no doubt they need him more than he needs the Jets.
Holmes only had two catches, but they came on two fantastic adjustments on big plays, totaling 71 yards. His stats are deflated because of poor play for the quarterback position. Holmes is capable of making plays and getting open in ways the other players simply cannot.
It is also encouraging that this is just his first game back from a serious hamstring injury, and he should only get healthier with time.
Unfortunately, Holmes' return did little to help the Jets offense as a whole, but it is clear as day that he is leagues better than any other receiver on the roster.
Stephen Hill Has Disappeared
One of the more underreported stories of this season is how far sophomore wide receiver Stephen Hill has fallen off the map, particularly over the past month.
Despite getting more than ample playing time, Hill has not caught a pass since the game against the Cincinnati Bengals on October 27, where he caught one pass in garbage time.
Hill is not the type of receiver who is going to put up huge reception numbers, but the fact that he has been completely invisible, particularly in Santonio Holmes' absence, is disturbing.
The Jets relied on the big play with Holmes and Hill early in the season. Those plays are no longer happening, and the Jets' passing numbers reflect it.
Simply put, the Jets need Hill to play at least as well as an average starter in order to sustain offense through the air.
Matt Simms Is at Least Competent
While it would be silly to call for Smith's benching in favor of Matt Simms after one game, Simms has at least shown that he can be a competent backup in relief of Smith.
Simms took a stagnant offense down the field to a garbage-time touchdown, showing good poise and presence in the pocket. He has a bit of an awkward delivery, but he can put a lot of velocity on the ball.
It is important to remember the situation Simms was in—he was playing against a defense that was not being nearly as aggressive as the unit Smith faced—but the Jets have clearly made the right decision to keep Simms over Greg McElroy after training camp.
The League Is Catching Up to the Passing Game
Criticizing play-calling is always easy to do after the fact, but he has certainly started to look as if opponents have figured out how to stop the Jets' passing attack.
Mike Petting outcoached Marty Mornhinweg in every sense of the word. Pettine clearly knew the Jets' protection schemes and drew up several effective blitzes. The Bills were also ready for nearly every single screen the Jets tried to run.
In fact, most of Smith's yards came on extended plays that were at least somewhat ad-libbed.
While there is no way to overhaul an offensive system at this point in the season, the Jets need to use a few new wrinkles in their approach to avoid being too predictable.
The Inconsistency Continues
Another week, another alternating result for the Jets, as they follow up a huge upset over the New Orleans Saints by laying an egg against an injured Bills team.
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why this historic pattern has continued for so long (they are the first team in NFL history to alternate wins and losses through the first 10 games), but it is a trend that Rex Ryan needs to stop if he wants to get into the playoffs.
The win-loss-win-loss results are not as concerning as the fact that the Jets have played at such drastically different levels of play from week to week.
The biggest concern for the Jets is how their offense has been steadily declining, especially in the passing game. They have had trouble protecting Geno Smith, who was back to his turnover-happy ways with three interceptions to go with just eight completions.
Clearly, this team has a problem handling success and will need to change its mindset after wins if it plans on making any kind of playoff run.