Since the start of the Rex Ryan era, the New York Jets are 0-2 coming off bye weeks. In 2009, they lost a close game against Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-22. Last year, they suffered a 9-0 loss at the hands of the Green Bay Packers.
After starting the first half of the season 4-3 with a big road loss against the Patriots, the next two games are very crucial if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
This two-game stretch starts with the Buffalo Bills who have reasserted themselves in the AFC East after years of mediocrity. Thus far, they have beaten tough teams in the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.
In order for the Jets to win against this new and improved Buffalo team, they need to stop the slow starts. Even against the Dolphins, which was a relatively convincing victory that put the Jets back on track after losing three straight, they were not able to score until 1:14 remaining in the second quarter.
Against quality teams like the Bills or the Patriots, who the Jets will play the following week, slow starts can really stop a team before they get started. For the Jets this year, playing from behind a moderate deficit has not worked well; aside from the Week 1 victory against the Cowboys, the Jets have had trouble overcoming deficits of 10 or greater late in games.
To start strong, the Jets need to build on what they did against the Chargers. Their incorporation of the running game with their solid aerial attack made for a 1-2 punch that the Chargers had a tough time stopping. By utilizing Shonn Greene, who has begun to emerge as a quality running back as more pressure has been applied, the Jets should be able to bring back their "ground and pound" offense that was irrelevant early in the season. Throw in Jeremy Kerley and Santonio Holmes to spread the field with great slant routes or chain-moving passes and the Jets can put together complete drives that lead to touchdowns. This can start them off on the right foot.
As for the defense, there is not much to say but put the pressure on and keep it on. By using pass rushers like Aaron Maybin and Jamaal Westerman, the Jets could possibly force Ryan Fitzpatrick into making mistakes and turnovers. Also, by keeping the pressure on, the defenders should be filling any holes left for Fred Jackson to run in, hopefully solving the Jets run defense woes.
For the first time in a while, the Bills are contenders in the AFC East. In order for the Jets to continue on their road to redemption after their 4-3 start, playing a complete game against Buffalo is the key. More importantly, this means putting the pressure on Buffalo early and never letting up, something the Jets have had trouble with in the past against good teams.