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Bills 21 Jets 12: All Aboard the Tank

NFL: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets are off to an 0-1 start in 2017. New York lost on the road today to the Buffalo Bills 21-12. Many pundits have predicted a rough season for the Jets, and the opener looked a lot like those predictions. What went wrong? Let’s discuss it below.

The Bad

Josh McCown: McCown threw the ball 39 times and didn’t even net 200 yards through the air. It was that type of day. His completion percentage looks very good at 66.7%, but when the efficiency of his throws was so low, it didn’t do the Jets a lot of good. Anybody can dink and dunk when the defense is giving away the short stuff. To be an effective quarterback in this league, you have to take some things on your own beyond what the defense gives you. McCown didn’t do that. He also missed a number of easy throws. Some of his completions did not maximize yardage after the catch because they were not on target. And he threw a pair of second half interceptions. The Jets had a lot go wrong today. All of those things are survivable aside from this type of quarterback play. I don’t think this type of play at the most important position gives a team a fighting chance.

Demario Davis: Sometimes stats don’t tell the whole story. McCown’s completion percentage is one such example. Demario Davis’ team leading 14 tackles in his return to the Jets is another. Davis might have padded his tackle totals, but they were not impact plays. There is a reason LeSean McCoy and the Bills backs had such a field day. It was because of how frequently Davis was filling the wrong gap, not getting off his blocks, and biting on play action in pass coverage.

Darron Lee: I thought Lee was the other big culprit on defense for the Jets, but I was more disturbed by what he did on the field. We know what Davis is. Lee is looking to take a big leap this year, but he had the same issues as Davis. He essentially looked like the same player he was as a rookie despite a gaudy 10 tackle stat line of his own.

Muhammad Wilkerson: Wilkerson didn’t have the problem of a gaudy stat line camouflaging a bad game. After knocking a pass down early, he was a nonfactor. He had one chance to bring down Tyrod Taylor in the open field on a scramble and missed. Aside from that, he was silent.

Marcus Maye: Unlike a number of guys on this list, I can forgive Maye for a rough Week 1. It isn’t easy being a second round pick starting at safety in a complicated defense. With that said, Maye did appear to be the culprit on a pair of passing touchdowns. But it was just his first game.

Matt Forte: The normally reliable receiving back had a pair of drops.

Offensive Line: The unit wasn’t opening many holes in the run game.

Coaching: Talent matters in this league, and the Jets don’t have much. It isn’t necessarily an indication that the coaching staff is bad if the Jets lose a game. There are certain things that show us whether the coaching staff is putting the team in the best possible position to win.

One of them is gameplanning. Are the right players being used frequently? On offense, Bilal Powell is one of the few legitimate weapons the Jets have. Josh McCown is the head of a passing attack that is one of the least talented league on a good day. Why then would we see a first game with this ratio?

Josh McCown: 39 passes

Bilal Powell: 7 carries

Sometimes the other team puts two quick touchdowns on the board, and you find yourself chasing the game. That isn’t what happened today. This was a two point game into the fourth quarter. For some reason, the Jets wanted to ride an ineffective McCown more than give Powell a chance.

Another important part of coaching is in game decisions. Here the Jets again failed. Todd Bowles made a very puzzling decision late in the third quarter when the Jets scored to cut Buffalo’s lead to 14-12. Sure, on paper a two point conversion would tie the game, but there were 17:00 minutes to play. A tie game with so much time on the clock isn’t that different from a one point deficit. It would be different if there were 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but there was no way of knowing how the game would play out. In that situation, it is almost always the right decision to take the sure extra point rather than take it off the board and roll the dice. Bowles rolled the dice and got burned when the Jets missed the two point conversion. The Bills went right down the field and scored a touchdown to go up 9 (two scores). The Jets were in deep trouble from that point.

Even more curiously, the Jets punted down by 9 on fourth and eight from their own 44 with 4:00 left. There wasn’t a plausible scenario for the Jets to get the two scores they needed that did not involve scoring on that drive. Bowles kicked away his last chance, though. It might have helped him win the field position battle, but winning the game is the objective. Granted, there wasn’t much of a chance the Jets would have put together two scoring drives in the time necessary, but the team at least would have maintained a slight chance to win.

I don’t think Bowles should have a mandate to either make the Playoffs or lose his job. I don’t think he should just get a free ride because his talent is bad, though. A coach is either maximizing his team’s chance to win, or he isn’t. Bowles wasn’t today.

The Good

Kony Ealy: Ealy cooled off a bit in the second half, but it felt like he was living in the backfield in the early going. He had 4 tackles, a pass defensed, and 3 disruptions of the quarterback.

Leonard Williams: Williams didn’t jump off the page like Ealy, but I thought he was consistently winning his battles and disrupting Buffalo’s blocking. It turns out PFF agreed with me as they credited him with a pair of quarterback hits and 4 run stops.

Jermaine Kearse: He didn’t make many big plays, but he was a reliable short outlet with 7 catches for 59 yards.

Josh Martin: When the Jets re-signed Martin to a fairly lucrative deal in the offseason, the only way I could piece together logic was if the team was planning on expanding his role on defense. Maybe that was the plan. He was very disruptive off the edge, recording 4 tackles and setting the edge effectively. He also made a nifty play on special teams.

Jamal Adams: He bit too hard on play action once on a big completion, but the rookie’s impact was noticeable on day one. He had 5 tackles and was consistently around the ball.

Chandler Catanzaro: There was a lot of consternation in the offseason when the Jets signed the former Cardinals kicker. The level of consternation grew when the Jets kept him over Ross Martin. Through one week, Catanzaro has done a really nice job. He made 48 and 52 yard field goals today.


Things don’t get much easier for the Jets. This was supposed to be one of their winnable games, and they were beaten pretty soundly. Next week is a trip to Oakland.