Week 1 is finally here and the New York Jets couldn’t ask for a better opponent, the Buffalo Bills.
Jets Defense Vs. Bills Offense
The New York Jets defense is perfectly built to shut down teams like the Bills. The Bills are likely to try and run the ball down the Jets’ throat come Sunday. With their three-headed running attack of Frank Gore, T.J. Yeldon and Devin Singeltary, the Bills identity is built around the run game.
Yes, they improved their WR group by adding Cole Beasley and John Brown, but that’s not enough. Beasley has 700 yards receiving only once in his career. John Brown has a combined catch rate of 41.2% in the past two seasons. They just aren’t the improvements that many fans and pundits think they are. The Bills simply went from the worst group of wideouts in the NFL to one of the five worst WR groups in the league.
That’ll make it difficult for Josh Allen to take advantage of the Jets defense’s biggest weakness, their cornerbacks. The Bills will likely try to take advantage of Cole Beasley in the slot against Brian Poole, but Poole was arguably the Jets best CB in training camp and preseason. John Brown is known as a deep threat, and the Bills will almost certainly take a shot or two in this game with Josh Allen and his cannon arm. However, it’s not likely that Josh Allen and his 53% completion percentage from last year are going to take advantage of our poor pass defense.
For those of you who think that Josh Allen will be much improved as a passer this year, he didn’t really show that in the preseason. In total this preseason Allen completed 18/28 passes, that’s good for a completion percentage of 64.2%. That doesn’t tell the whole story though. In two of the three games, Allen played in this preseason he had a completion percentage under 55%. His overall numbers are buoyed by his week two performance against mostly the Panthers backups when he completed 9/11. If you removed that game Allen was just 9/17, which is 52.9%. That looks a lot like the guy who completed just 52.8% of his passes last year.
Expecting Allen to take advantage of anything in the passing game is a dangerous game. Allen didn’t throw for 250 yards even once in his rookie year. In games where Allen threw the ball 25 times or more the Bills were 2-5. If you up that to 30 times or more than the Bills were 0-5. In those games where he threw 25 times or more the Allen threw 8 TDs to 11 INTs and had a completion percentage of 52.6%.
The Bills running game could be very dangerous this year. Josh Allen is one of the best running QBs in the NFL, and he’s flanked by a dangerous trio of runners. The problem for the Bills is that the Jets defense is built to shut down the run. C.J. Mosley, Jamal Adams and Leonard Williams are all elite run stoppers. That doesn’t even include Steve McClendon, Henry Anderson and Quinnen Williams.
On paper, Sunday should be a long day for the Bills offense.
Jets Offense Vs. Bills Defense
This is a much harder argument. The Bills had one of the best defenses in the NFL last year. They ranked second in defensive DVOA. There was not much they weren’t good at shutting down.
The one thing that the Jets have that has proven to be an issue of the Bills is Robby Anderson. Anderson will be covered by Tre’Davious White on Sunday. The Jets saw that matchup once last year. Robby got the best of White on that day catching four of seven targets for 76 yards and a TD. Robby is set to have a breakout fourth year with Adam Gase. Jets Fans saw a glimpse of how good Robby could be at the end of last year. From week 14-16 Robby had 312 yards on 20 catches and a TD in each game. The Jets are looking for Robby to sustain that kind of presence, and a game against White is how he started that stretch last year.
The other thing that gives the Jets a huge advantage in this game is Adam Gase. He is going to implement a new offense for the Jets that the Bills have not seen before. The element of surprise should be a huge advantage for the Jets. With Gase scheming for a second-year Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell the Jets offense will look a lot different than it did last year.
Bell did not play in all of the preseason, but that shouldn’t matter. He is still one of the best RBs in the NFL. Fans seem to be forgetting how good he was in Pittsburgh before the holdout. Look for Bell to come out and remind people exactly who he is, the only RB in NFL history to average 100 yards rushing and 50 yards receiving per game over a full season in NFL history.
Lastly, Sam Darnold looks ready to roll. Unlike Josh Allen, Sam Darnold came out firing in preseason looking like a much-improved quarterback. He looks a lot like the guy with the best QBR and PFF rating in the last four games. Sam was 17/25 over his three preseason games, which is a completion percentage of 68%. He also led a TD drive in each of the three games he played in. Sam’s completion percentage was consistently good across all three games at 80%, 71.4%, and 62.5% Sam looks ready to explode onto the scene year two, and the changes to his game that come along with Adam Gase’s offense will be a shock to the Bills system in week one.
The Bills are going to be without one of their major weapons on Sunday. Former Jet and special teams’ ace Andre Roberts has been ruled out for the game.
That’s a huge blow for the Bills who were hoping to have Roberts return both kicks and punts. Special teams have been a weakness of the Jets all preseason. while return coverage generally hasn’t been one of those weaknesses it’s nice to see that the Jets won’t have to deal with one of the best returners in the game.
The Bills will also likely be without starting tight end Tyler Kroft. Kroft broke his foot early in the offseason and has missed all of the offseason program, training camp, and preseason. He was limited in practice this week, and there was some hope that he would play on Sunday. He’s listed as doubtful for the game.
On the other side, the Jets are expected to be down just one player on Sunday. Avery Williamson is out for the year with a torn ACL. He’s the only Jet currently expected to miss opening week.
That means that Robby Anderson, Trumaine Johnson, Brian Winters, Kelechi Osemele, and Braxton Berrios will all play. All of these guys have been injured in some way during camp and were questions for the game.
Berrios will be the Jets punt returner and came to Jets nursing a hamstring injury. It’s not likely going to be an issue Sunday despite being limited in practice all week. He is officially listed as questionable, but Gase has said he will play.
Like Berrios, Trumaine Johnson and Robby Anderson were limited in practice all week and are officially listed as questionable for the game on Sunday. Adam Gase has said repeatedly that both are going to play on Sunday. Robby had picked up a calf injury in practice prior to the fourth preseason game. While Trumaine Johnson pulled his hamstring prior to the beginning of the preseason.