I watched the Bills-Jets game on Tuesday, and I must say, it was a very good, close matchup.
But that’s the thing: Should it have been? These aren’t the same Bills that were trying to shock the world in the early weeks of the season, when they won four of their first five games. The Bills’ offense has looked rather average since then. Fred Jackson continued to do very well, but he’s on injured reserve now and now rely on C.J. Spiller on rushing duties. Ryan Fitzpatrick received a contract extension and until Sunday, didn’t have a decent game for nearly a month, when they faced Washington. Heck, three weeks ago, at home, the Bills – who are 4-1 at home while 1-5 on the road – only managed to score 11 points against the Jets.
So what are the problems these Jets are having? Let me count the ways:
Mark Sanchez needs to be more consistent – This is an issue that people have addressed for a long time, but it still needs to be, and in fact, should be addressed even more, with the rushing game to not be particularly good. Now yes, Sanchez did throw for 4 touchdowns, and that’s all well and good, but he also went 17-for-35; that’s a 48.6% completion percentage. Fortunately, for the Jets, the Bills’ defense is also not the same as it was earlier in the season, when they were racking up interception like no tomorrow. However, the final three games in their schedule are against Philadelphia, the Giants, and Miami. All three teams have players capable of intercepting. Sanchez needs to work on throwing the ball not just better, but on a more consistent basis, if he and the Jets want to have a chance of making it to the playoffs.
Joe McKnight should be used more often – This is more than just a cry on having him used more to earn more points in my Fantasy Football league. In my opinion, McKnight is a much better running back than Shonn Greene. He’s been primarily used for special teams and short second-down/third-down plays, but I know McKnight is capable of doing more. I’m not a big fan of Greene. Yes, I know he did well in the playoffs two years ago, when Thomas Jones went down, but this isn’t 2009, and running backs will change each year. Last year, Greene rushed for 756 yards and just 2 touchdowns. Meanwhile, LaDainian Tomlinson, who was supposed to be used as more of a third-down back, rushed for 914 yards and 6 touchdowns. Heck, if Tomlinson wasn’t out with a knee injury, I’d say use him, even if he’s 6 years older. But back to McKnight. He has the speed and elusiveness that Greene, and the Jets overall, lack. He’s a bit undersized, but so was Ray Rice, look where he is now. I’m not saying McKnight will be the next Rice (not even close), but he still should be given more opportunities to run with the football.
Plaxico is more than just a red-zone threat – Burress has racked up 7 touchdowns so far into the season, but most have been from just the red zone (including 3 against the Chargers a month ago). However, he’s more than a receiver capable of scoring within the opponents’ 20. To those who did watch the game on Sunday, remember when Plaxico had that one-handed catch in the fourth quarter? That’s the kind of play that makes him valuable as a wide receiver. He’s not the same player he was with the Steelers and the Giants, but he still is a viable second on the depth chart, behind Santonio Holmes. That’s all because his size allows him to make catches that would otherwise be non-catachable. Burress is 6’5″ and is one of the biggest receivers of the NFL, while those defending him are a good 4-6 inches shorter. Take advantage of his size and throw the ball a little more often.
Remember that opposing teams have more than one receiving option – Though I said the Bills’ offense is the not the same as it once was, it can still be potent. And in this game, it was. Fitzpatrick did throw 3 touchdowns in this game, and only one went to Stevie Johnson (P.S. – What Johnson did was stupid yet hilarious, and thanks to him, allowed the Jets to get better field position. Thanks, Stevie!). David Nelson is a decent second/third receiver option. Scott Chandler would be a top-10/12 tight end, if he had more targets. Brad Smith, former Jet, had the most receiving yards, and can play an unpredictable mix of WR/QB/RB/Special Teams. The pass defense needs to remember than a number of teams have depth at wide receiver. Next week, they face the Redskins. While Grossman has been up-and-down, he does have depth at the wide receiver position; they have Santana Moss (though injured) but also Jabar Gaffney and tight end Fred Davis. Philadelphia has DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, tight end Brent Celek, and even running back LeSean McCoy is capable of grabbing some. Giants have Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham, and tight end Jake Ballard. The Jets remember that teams like these have more than just one receiver capable of racking up yards and touchdowns.
More pressure to the quarterback needs to be applied – First, let me give the former Bills bust Aaron Maybin some credit; he recorded two sacks against Fitzpatrick in this game. However, this team needs to apply more pressure towards the quarterback, particularly in late-game situations. While Fitzpatrick and the Bills were unable to score on the final drive, he still had plenty of time to throw the football and had a shot of winning the game a couple of times. Guys like defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and inside linebacker Bart Scott need to apply more pressure against him. Apply pressure and the quarterback will panic; make him panic, force him to make bad decisions, which will lead to more bad drives and turnovers.