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Explosive Offense Already Proving Key to Jets' 2016 Hopes After Win over Bills

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystSeptember 16, 2016

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15: Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets calls a running play to Matt Forte #22 of the New York Jets resulting in a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at New Era Field on September 15, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Michael Adamucci/Getty Images)
Michael Adamucci/Getty Images

For years, dating back to Rex Ryan's time as head coach of the team, the New York Jets have been known as a defensive club. They possess arguably the most loaded defensive line in the league.

However, as was clearly demonstrated in the Jets' 37-31 shootout win over the Buffalo Bills on Thursday, it isn't Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams who will decide whether Gang Green will make its first playoff appearance since 2010.

It won't be veteran linebacker David Harris. Or whatever real estate remains on Revis Island.

It will be quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the New York offense—an offense that's as loaded at the skill positions as any in the NFL.

The Jets were an offensive buzz saw on the road against a Bills defense that allowed only 13 points to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1. New York piled up 493 yards of total offense and didn't punt until early in the third quarter.

Given that explosion, it's no shock that several players had good nights. It is, however, surprising just how many did.

Week 1 standout Quincy Enunwa continued to impress, making a highlight-reel grab on the Jets' first drive en route to six catches for 92 yards:

NFL @NFL

Fitz going DEEP to @QuincyEnunwa... Gain of 34 yards! #TNF #NYJvsBUF https://t.co/cwnT5bPB2K https://t.co/VoZDKZxKPt

Veteran wideout Brandon Marshall chipped in six receptions of his own for 101 yards—a performance made all the more impressive by his quick return to the field after a scary-looking knee injury in the first half:

Doug Gottlieb @GottliebShow

Love Brandon Marshall, hope this isn't as bad as it looks https://t.co/b7DcVkLDyE

Wide receiver Eric Decker one-upped them both. He matched the pair's reception total of six, topped Marshall's yardage by averaging 21 yards a pop and found the end zone in his sixth straight game dating back to last year, tying Brandon Marshall's 2015 record.

Tailback Matt Forte got a piece of the action too. In fact, he ate the whole danged pie.

Sep 15, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets running back Matt Forte (22) runs for a touchdown as Buffalo Bills strong safety Aaron Williams (23) pursues during the second half at New Era Field. The Jets beat the Bills 37-31. Mandatory Credit: Kevin
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

There was a lot of hand-wringing in fantasy football circles this summer over the 30-year-old free-agent acquisition's age after a down (by his standards, anyway) 2015 season with the Chicago Bears.

Forte racked up 109 total yards on 32 touches and scored three touchdowns against the Bills. Apparently he doesn't realize he's supposed to be too old to do that.

Still, the real star of the night was quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who spent most of his summer vacation embroiled in a contract dispute with the Jets before finally agreeing to a new deal on July 27.

Fitzpatrick absolutely destroyed a besieged Bills secondary, completing 24 of 34 pass attempts for 374 yards and that score to Decker. His passer rating for the evening was nearly 120. And as Football Perspective tweeted, he continually beat Buffalo vertically through the air.

Football Perspective @fbgchase

Ryan Fitzpatrick had 9 pass completions that went for at least 18 yards and were marked as "deep" in the game book.

After the win, Fitzpatrick gave the credit for his huge outing to his receivers while speaking with CBS Sports sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson.

"We had a lot of guys step up today," Fitzpatrick said. "I think it started with Quincy Enunwa making some great catches, and that opened stuff up for everybody else. We've got a lot of playmakers on this offense, and like I've said, it's my job to kind of spread it around and get them all the ball and keep them happy."

Sep 15, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker (87) scores a touchdown as Buffalo Bills cornerback Ronald Darby (28) reacts during the first half at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The New York offense may have been all smiles, but the same can't be said for the defense. For the second straight week, the Jets D gave up a number of "chunk" plays. Likewise for cornerback Darrelle Revis being burned for a long touchdown—a once-unthinkable happening that has been alarmingly routine in 2016. And a Bills team that put up 160 total yards of offense and seven points against the Ravens in Week 1 piled up 393 yards and scored 24 points (the other score coming on a fumble return).

None of those things are going to please a defensive-minded head coach like Todd Bowles.

But the Jets were able to secure a badly needed win. Yes, it's early, and it's hard to call a Week 2 contest a "must-win." But the reality is as soon as the New England Patriots squeaked past the Arizona Cardinals last week, that's what this became if the Jets wanted to maintain any real hope of hanging with the Pats in the AFC East.

Just as important as the fact the Jets won was how they won. This isn't a team most would expect to win many shootouts. But Fitzpatrick, Forte and the Jets' deep stable of receivers showed that even when their supposedly vaunted defense falters, the team can still emerge victorious.

And if that defense gets its act together and plays at the level most expected it to, this could be a very formidable team. A balanced team. A playoff team.

Some will say that with their offensive onslaught Thursday night, the Jets showed us a different side of themselves. But it may well be that all they did was show us who they really are.

Perhaps the pendulum has swung and the days of the Jets as a smashmouth defensive team have given way to a Jets team whose best shot at success lies in a grip it-and-rip it offensive attack.

  

Gary Davenport is an NFL analyst at Bleacher Report and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Gary on Twitter @IDPSharks.