Two games into the Perry Fewell regime, Bills fans were beginning to think that the Buffalo Bills offense had re-discovered how to move the ball with Fred Jackson running and Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing to Terrell Owens.
Well, maybe we needed to acknowledge that those two games were against average to below-average defenses in Jacksonville and Miami. The New York Jets brought the No. 2 best passing defense to Toronto and exposed the Bills offense for what it truly is—one that has trouble protecting their passer and giving him any time to get in to a rhythm.
The game was aired on NFL Network and I watched the game from a friend's house, complete with a surround sound system. With the speakers right behind me I kept waiting to hear the crowd noise, but it wasn't there. You would think it was the soundtrack for the commercials where you could hear a pin drop.
Something happened that caused the bright light shining on the Bills offense to go dark, because they went to sleep for the entire second half of the game. The 36 yards the Bills generated in the second half was their second lowest output in the second half over the last eight years.
This half was so ugly that they even gained more yards against Cleveland back in Week Five. Toronto fans were probably wondering why they had to pay such exorbitant ticket prices to see such inferior play, eh?
They would have been smart to ask for a refund. Or at least get one of those new Bills team photos for 2009 season that has already eliminated Dick Jauron from the picture.
Out of the 12 Bills total possessions in the game, six resulted in three-and-out drives. Exactly one half of the time. Lovely. Jets fans, you weren't much better, as you had five three-and-out drives of your own. See how far that gets you in the playoffs.
Schedule Maker: No More Prime Time Games for the Bills
Tonight's loss means that the Bills have now dropped their last 10 straight games on prime time TV. That is embarrassing. No wonder all these ex-Super Bowl coaches are wanting to bow out of the running without a conversation.
When you keep losing games being nationally televised, the perception that you are a losing team or organization continues to manifest.
Maybe we could schedule a nationally televised game against the Browns. Oh wait, we did, and we lost to them too? Oh well, I would gladly take losing a fifth Super Bowl if it meant winning two nationally televised playoff games next year to break the streak.
So What Happened and Where Did the Bills Offense Go?
Ryan Fitzpatrick was scrambling for his life most of the night. The right side of the line had Jake Chambers starting next to Kendall Simmons. Simmons was starting his second game for the Bills. Chambers went down with an ankle injury and didn't return.
Jamon Meredith came on for Chambers, but there were plenty of guys getting beat. One sack in particular irked me when a guy came barreling over Geoff Hangartner and Simmons was not blocking anyone next to him. Had he turned and saw what was happening, he might have been able to help Fitzpatrick out.
When you have a quarterback scrambling as much as Fitzpatrick was, your receivers have to be able to see the blitzes coming, and react to that. They need to cut off their original patterns and come back to the ball to give him a target to throw to.
That wasn't happening. Lee Evans caught a pass for 38 yards on the first drive of the game, and he might as well have gone straight in to the locker room and showered up, because he didn't have another catch the rest of the game.
The Bills offense was so bad tonight that they went 1-11 on third-down conversions. Nine times tonight they gained one yard or less on first down, which is a formula that is asking for trouble.
The Jets used their All-Pro standout cornerback Darrelle Revis to basically silence Terrell Owens. T.O. did manage three catches for 31 yards, but was basically not much of a factor in the game.
Trailing by six points in the final minute, Fitzpatrick tried to hit T.O. deep down the sideline, but Revis had inside position and was able to haul in the pass for an interception, sealing the win.
Maybe T.O. will now be inviting Revis to his birthday party in New York City this weekend after all. Revis has been shutting down top-flight receivers week in and week out.
So, if T.O. wasn't going to be open, what about throwing the ball to Lee Evans and Josh Reed, and how about Shawn Nelson?
I know that T.O. was targeted either eight or nine times, and I would say that his totals alone were more than Evans, Reed, and Nelson combined. If their top guy is taking out your top guy, you have to be able to go elsewhere with the ball, and for some reason, Fitzpatrick was reluctant to.
Give the Jets credit, they stuck to the smarter game plan. They have the more physical team, were able to focus on running the ball, and they won the turnover battle 2-0. They limited the mistakes Sanchez could make by keeping the passing attempts much lower compared to rushing attempts (17 passes to 43 rushes).
There was a Marshawn Lynch sighting in Toronto by the way. Lynch reeled off his two best consecutive plays this year during the second quarter when he ran for 35 yards on one play, and followed that up with a score from 15 yards out. Where has that been all year Marshawn? For what it is worth, it should be noted that since Marshawn was hot tonight, the Bills only gave him one more rush attempt during the second half.
Until the offense is able to get a stable and cohesive offensive line, the Bills offense is only going to be good as the opposition's defense will let them be. In other words, if the Bills are going against an average to below average defense, they will look great. Tonight, you saw them up against a stiff defense, and they did not have any answers.
What Happened to the Bills Healthy Defense Tonight?
This unit did not play that great. Maybe it was the "two games in four days" factor. They had Terrance McGee back, although he was limited. Marcus Stroud was back, so the team is getting closer to returning to reasonable health.
In fact, the Bills actually had a strong sack total tonight with five. I believe that was a season high for the Bills, with two from Kyle Williams and one each from Aaron Schobel, Chris Kelsay, and Paul Posluszny.
Posluszny had his best sack of the season and forcing a fumble as well on the quarterback, but unfortunately, the ball didn't bounce the Bills way, and Schobel couldn't pounce on it quick enough.
The rush defense was somewhat better tonight compared to the first meeting this year. In the first game, Thomas Jones had 210 yards on 22 carries and the Jets rushed for 318 for the game. Tonight, Jones had 109 yards on 23 carries but the Jets as a team had 249.
So with one more carry, Jones racked up 100 yards less. Moral victory for the Bills rush defense, but they still can't be too happy.
In fact, the 567 yards the Jets racked up this year against the Bills sets a franchise record for most rushing yards gained against one opponent in any year of their history. Can't wait to share that little tidbit with my grandchildren.
How bad was the defense tonight? Well the Jets had a total of 10 different rushes that went for at least 10 yards, along with six passes that went for over 10 yards. It was so bad that their fullback, Tony Richardson, was able to pick up 36 yards on two fullback dives.
Are you hearing me? 36 yards on two fullback dives? We are still very susceptible to the cut-back run, and that was evidenced throughout the game.
There were also some very glaring problems in the Bills pass defense. The Bills were lucky that they were facing Sanchez and not Peyton Manning because Jets wide receivers were getting wide open with no one around them for at least 10-15 yards.
The most comical blown assignment was against Braylon Edwards who insisted on trying to catch a long potential touchdown pass with his helmet and face mask instead of his hands. Thanks Braylon and hope those 5-Hour Energy drinks have helped you to learn how to track a ball in a domed stadium.
In fact, I do wonder if that was a real problem because T.O. showed that he wasn't reacting very well to long passes that he had to look up into the dome stadium to find. Maybe it was an issue, because neither T.O. nor Edwards had played there before.
Back to the Bills secondary. There were far too many receivers that were left open in key situations. As a former defensive secondary coach, and long-standing defensive coordinator for the Bills, Perry Fewell had to be furious about the glaring mistakes in the secondary coverage.
I can only assume that there were blown coverages or that guys are confused because of all the rotating they are doing. McGee is out, then rotates in. Whitner is out, then he rotates in, etc. Reggie Corner got beat and Edwards scored because he was able to break the tackle from Drayton Florence.
Continuity continues to be an issue for this Bills team, and that will always be the case as long as the injury bug decides to nest within your organization and stay for a while.
Any Bills Highlights Worth Mentioning?
The Bills only had one penalty for the entire game. That is noteworthy. We talked about the five sacks, and the two impressive back-to-back runs from Marshawn Lynch. George Wilson again turned in a solid game with 10 tackles to lead the team, but there it is again—a safety leading the team in tackles.
There was an Aaron Maybin sighting tonight, as he did make one tackle that I distinctly saw. Way to go Aaron.
Speaking of tackles, Paul Posluszny had one great tackle on his sack, but still seems to be slower this year covering from sideline to sideline. The Jets ran the ball 43 times tonight, yet Poz only had five tackles. Not enough.
Besides the injury to Chambers, Chris Draft had an injury as well. No word yet on the extent of either, but that is fairly light comparatively speaking. We really don't have any other depth at linebacker, so expect to see more from either Nic Harris or Ashlee Palmer if Draft can't go.
The Bills now have 10 days to prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs. They will probably look very good moving the ball against the Chiefs suspect defense. Just remember that this is an offense that is as inconsistent as one can possibly be, and still be called professionals.