Similar to their game against San Diego, the New York Jets' victory against the Buffalo Bills was a tale of two halves. Midway through the second quarter, the game was scoreless, and then Nick Folk was able to break the tie by making a 49-yard field goal.
On offense, it was more of the same to start the game. Despite an impressive drive down the field, Mark Sanchez squandered away 10 minutes of hard work with one bad throw. This was followed by more lack of production by the Jets' offense, as Sanchez and crew did almost all of their scoring in the third quarter after only being able to put up three points in the first half.
For the defense, however, they were consistent all the way through, as they were able to hold the Buffalo defense to a season-low 11 points. Despite injuries and doubts of whether or not they were going to be able to stop possible MVP candidate Fred Jackson, the Jets kept Fred Jackson to 82 yards.
Here is a look at lessons learned from Sunday’s New York Jets victory. As always, feedback is welcome. Enjoy!
For the first time in his three years of being head coach for the Jets, Rex Ryan has won a game after the bye week.
In 2008, the Jets suffered a heart-breaking loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 10, which was followed by an improbable run that propelled them through the playoffs until they lost to the Indianapolis Colts. It was a similar story in 2010 when the Packers blanked the Jets a little over a year ago after their bye week.
A lot of questions surrounded the Jets and their ability to overcome the bye week because of the fact that they were 0-3 on the road and the game had playoff implications. Even with all of the negativity coming off of their bye week, the Jets were able to put 2008 and 2009 in the past, silencing anybody’s doubt.
During the Rex Ryan era, the Jets are now 1-2 the week following their bye.
Entering this offseason, the Jets dealt with their aging defensive line that continued to suffer from injuries, something they thought was the biggest obstacle facing their defense. The Jets brought youth to the defensive line by using their first two picks in the 2011 NFL draft to draft defensive linemen Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis.
Going into Sunday’s game against the Bills, the Jets were facing several big injuries to their young offensive line; both Mike DeVito and Kenrick Ellis were inactive entering the game.
If it had been earlier in the season, their absence may have caused the Jets to lose this game because of Fred Jackson’s great ability to run. That was not the story, though. Co-captain Sione Pouha helped lead the defensive line’s charge against the Bills' running game by recording seven tackles and a forced fumble.
The fumble forced by the run-stopper, Pouha, contributed to the Jets' third-quarter outburst that led to their dominating victory.
One player to be on the lookout for in the coming weeks is Marcus Dixon. Dixon stepped up big for the Jets, as he took the place of Kenrick Ellis and Mike DeVito at defensive tackle.
After the first half, the Jets could have had a commanding 13-0 lead, but they did not execute, leaving them with a bleak 3-0 lead entering the second half.
It started with Mark Sanchez's bad read in the end zone on the Jets' first drive that lasted 10 minutes, which resulted in an interception. This furthered the Jets' failure to score a touchdown on their first possession, a feat they were only able to accomplish during their victory against Jacksonville back in Week 2.
In the second quarter, the Jets literally caught a break when Calvin Pace intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick and returned it into Bills territory. The Jets were unsuccessful in trying to get the ball back into the red zone and were forced to attempt a 50-yard field goal. Earlier in the quarter, kicker Nick Folk was able to nail a 49-yard field goal, but this time, his failure to execute cost the Jets three points they needed as his kick went wide right.
During the third quarter, it was a completely different story, as the Jets were able to aggressively put 17 points on the board, while the Bills only managed to make a field goal because of the defense's stellar performance.
If the Jets want to continue their climb back to the top of the AFC East, they will need to execute early on, especially against top teams like the New England Patriots, who they will face next week.
Last season, one of the issues outside linebacker Calvin Pace faced was an injured foot that was hurt during the preseason. Because of that injury, he missed several games and returned in mid-October, when the Jets took on their former quarterback, Brett Favre.
For the rest of the season, Pace was not playing to his full potential because of the foot injury. This year is completely different, though. After remaining healthy during all of the preseason and throughout the regular season thus far, Pace has been making a huge impact.
Against the Bills, Pace had a big interception late in the second quarter that kept the Bills from advancing the ball into New York territory in an attempt to tie or take the lead. Although the interception was a great play by Pace, as he was able to read Fitzpatrick like a book, Pace’s best play came when the Jets had a 20-3 lead late in the third quarter. It was 4th-and-an-inch; Pace, Muhammad Wilkerson and Bart Scott were able to burst into the backfield, teaming up to tackle and stop Fred Jackson before he crossed the first-down marker. This stop by the Jets was among many on the day, but this stop ruined any chance the Bills had of coming back, as the offense followed the turnover with a touchdown.
For the first time in a while, the Jets did not have a sack in a game. This may come as a surprise since the Jets were able to keep Ryan Fitzpatrick in check, forcing him make mistakes like throwing interceptions, and his completion percentage was under 50.
The pressure the Jets applied on Fitzpatrick made a huge impact. Throughout the course of the game, the Jets were able to hit Fitzpatrick five times; both David Harris and Jim Leonhard had two hits on him, while former Bills “bust” Aaron Maybin had one. Several times, Rex Ryan blitzed Jim Leonhard, and because of the pressure already being applied by Maybin (which not only led to their three hits on Firzpatrick, Maybin was also able to force a holding penalty on Buffalo’s left tackle), it allowed Leonhard to slip through and make contact, forcing an incompletion both times.
The Jets' defense have had success when it comes to getting to the quarterback, and next week it will be crucial when they return home to take on Tom Brady and the Patriots, as they try to repeat their four-sack performance against them from just a few weeks ago.
There is a reason as to why Mark Sanchez completed 20-of-28 attempts against the Bills' tenacious defense, which was able to shut down the Patriots' offense just a few weeks ago—that reason is his receivers.
During the Rex Ryan era, receivers need to know that they will not be getting tons of targets a game, but when their number is called, they will be counted upon. With receivers like Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes, Dustin Keller and Jeremy Kerley, the Jets do not have much to worry about when they decide to pass the ball.
Each player can catch the ball in almost any situation, whether they have a defender breathing down their neck as they record a reception off of a curl or a play cutting up the middle on a post with yards of green ahead of them. The receiver’s abilities to catch the ball really leaves the execution in the hands of the offensive line (protection) and Mark Sanchez, who has been doing a good job this season of getting the ball to his receivers.
Thus far, the Jets' receivers have combined for 129 receptions, 1,545 yards and 12 touchdowns, with Dustin Keller leading the way (25 receptions, 372 yards, 2 touchdowns). It will be interesting to see how the passing game’s evolution within the Jets' offensive scheme progresses throughout the rest of the season.