The Jets head to Orchard Park this week for a meeting with the division rival Bills. As Gang Green sits a game out of first place, this contest means a lot. A win puts the Jets right in the thick of things. A loss gives this team an uphill climb to make the Playoffs. Instead of the normal preview, I have decided to shake things up a bit this week. Brian from SB Nation's Buffalo Rumblings (buffalorumblings.com) has answered some questions for me after the jump.
1. What kind of makeup does this Bills team have? How do you think
they will respond coming off such a tough loss?
They'll be fine. The team is a reflection of its head coach, and Dick Jauron is one of the most focused and calm coaches out there. The team is young, but they've got solid leaders, and they'll be playing in front of a home crowd. Losing to the hated Dolphins was tough, without question, but I don't foresee the team having an issue regrouping and playing another very competitive football game.
2. Leading up to the Draft, there was some buzz the Jets were
interested in Leodis McKelvin to pair up with Darrelle Revis. How has
McKelvin played thus far?
Not well. He had a little trouble breaking the lineup in any capacity right out of the gate, and first saw the field as a kick returner, where he's been pretty mediocre. He's had to play a lot at corner over the past few weeks with Terrence McGee and Ashton Youboty nursing injuries. He was torched for four touchdowns in extensive action against Arizona and San Diego; the team has begun playing Donte Whitner at corner much more in order to avoid exposing McKelvin further. McGee is still banged up, but Youboty appears ready to go, so we don't expect to see much of McKelvin save on returns. The kid's got a long way to go, but he's still got elite potential.
3. Do you think Trent Edwards' success has been a fluke, or do you
think he is finally the guy the Bills have been waiting for to bring
longterm stability to the position for the first time since the Jim
It's definitely not a fluke. I'm 99% sure he's the guy that the franchise has been looking for to replace Kelly, too - what Edwards has done in just his first 16 NFL starts is rare. What we fail to understand as a fan base, however, is that Edwards is still just a kid - so we probably get a little too frustrated when he makes rookie mistakes, as he did in the fourth quarter in Miami. There are still going to be some growing pains here and there. But Edwards is unequivocally the leader of this team, and he hasn't come close to cracking under the pressure yet. His teammates believe in him. The fan base believes in him. We'll have to wait and see if he can deliver, but confidence is sky high.
4. Break down the Jason Peters-Calvin Pace matchup.
I like Peters in this one. Jason has been playing well, and although he hasn't reached his Pro Bowl level of 2007, he's probably also gotten a bad rap for giving up some plays in key situations. I'd like to see Peters play a little harder and through the whistle - if he does that, he'll be one of the best at his position for a very long time. Pace isn't an overwhelmingly athletic player, so if he picks up sacks, it'll be because Edwards is holding the ball too long. Pace is a very good player, but he's the type of player that Peters has handled in the past.
5. Break down the matchup between Leon Washington and Buffalo's
coverage teams. How do you see the Bills trying to contain Washington?
They won't give him many opportunities to touch the ball on kicking teams. Rian Lindell has mastered the "pooch kickoff", in which he pops a kick high into the air and an up man is forced to fair catch it at about the 30 yard line. The Bills feel comfortable sacrificing field position to make the offense work for scores; unless the Jets get creative and move Washington around to fool the Bills, I doubt he gets more than one or two chances to return kicks.