Column as I see ’em, Week 12:
• Jets coach Rex Ryan didn’t have a lot of answers Monday night – during or after his team’s 38-3 thrashing at the hands of the Bills. The best he could offer was that he still had a job.
“I know for a fact, unless it changes drastically, that I will be the head coach for the next five weeks,” Ryan said. “That’s what I know.”
Still, it wouldn’t be a shock if owner Woody Johnson took drastic measures after his team embarrassed itself at Ford Field. Ryan is finished as the Jets’ head coach. It would qualify as an act of mercy if Johnson fired him now, rather than employ him as a dead man walking for five more weeks.
Monday’s loss was an utter humiliation. I don’t want to take away from a brilliant Bills performance, but the Jets were a pathetic mess. They were outplayed, outhit and outhustled. They were dumb and lifeless. In the second half, they essentially quit on their coach.
That reflects poorly on Ryan, whose players have battled for him many times during his embattled time as head coach. But it’s clearly over now. Ryan said last week that his team was “a zillion times” better than it was in a 43-23 home loss to the Bills a month earlier.
Instead, the Jets were much worse. They couldn’t do a thing on offense. Ryan decided to take Sammy Watkins out of the game and got burned by Robert Woods. They gave up a blocked punt for a touchdown. During one laughable sequence, they got called for delay of game, then called a timeout.
Ryan is still a very good coach. He will have no problem getting a job as a defensive coordinator when the Jets let him go, and I suspect he’ll get another head coaching gig at some point in the future. The mess in New Jersey is mainly a product of John Idzik being over his head as general manager.
But whatever magic Ryan possessed four or five years ago has worn off. There was a time when he owned the Bills. The Jets beat them six times in a row at one stretch, using a power running game and Ryan’s pressure defenses to rule over some medicore Bills teams.
But Doug Marrone has beaten Ryan three times in a row. In their last three meetings, the Bills have outscored the Jets, 118-40. Jets quarterbacks have completed 46 percent for 405 yards with one touchdown and eight interceptions. The Bills have 15 sacks in the three games.
The Bills have completed 70 percent of their throws for 713 yards, eight TDs and no interceptions in that stretch. The Jets’ vaunted defense has sacked Buffalo’s QBs only six times, allowing the Bills to exploit one of sorriest secondaries in the league.
Marrone, who is coaching for his own job, did a far better job of preparing his team for Monday’s game, and in much more challenging circumstances than the Jets. His dominance of Ryan should elevate him in the eyes of his new owner, Terry Pegula. Whether it helps save him remains to be seen.
• There was a point near the end of the Browns-Falcons game when I began to wonder if we might see the starting debut of rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel against the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium this Sunday.
Atlanta had taken a 24-23 lead with 44 seconds left in the fourth quarter, thanks largely to two horrid interceptions by Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer in a span of two minutes.
But Hoyer, helped by some dubious clock management on the part of Atlanta coach Mike Smith, made four clutch throws in the last 39 seconds to set up Billy Cundiff’s game-saving, 37-yard field goal at the final gun.
Coach Mike Pettine said he never considered using Manziel, despite Hoyer’s struggles. He said he wouldn’t consider playing Manziel, who was involved in a hotel scuffle early Saturday morning, against the Bills. Still, you can imagine the clamor on Twitter during that frantic finish in Atlanta.
So Hoyer will face the NFL’s top pass rush Sunday when football returns to the Ralph. Pettine is eager to see Hoyer after another week of practice with Josh Gordon, back from a drug suspension. Gordon had eight catches for 120 yards against Atlanta. He averaged close to 120 yards a game last season.
It’ll also be the return to Buffalo of Pettine, who was the Bills’ defensive coordinator last season. Beating his former protege, one week after knocking off Rex Ryan, would be another feather in Marrone’s cap.
• Fred Jackson ran for 32 yards against the Jets, giving him 5,402 career rushing yards and moving him past Willie Parker for the third-highest total among undrafted running backs in NFL history. Priest Holmes tops the list with 8,172 yards. Arian Foster, who was inactive Sunday, is next with 5,885.
The undrafted running backs keep on coming. Two weeks ago, it was Jonas Gray, who rushed 38 times for 199 yards and four touchdowns in the Patriots’ win over the Colts. This past Sunday, it was Denver’s C.J. Anderson, who ran 27 times for 167 yards and a TD against Miami in his second NFL start.
Anderson was undrafted in 2013 out of the University California. He started only two games in college, but the draft snub still burns him. “There was 32 teams, 254 picks, and 22 running backs in my draft class,” Anderson said. “That motivates me every day.” I’m sure Fred can relate.
• By beating New Orleans on Monday night, 34-27, the Ravens completed a four-game sweep of the NFC South in their inter-conference crossover. Baltimore beat the four NFC opponents (Tampa Bay, Carolina, Atlanta and the Saints) by a combined score of 149-61.
The AFC North is now 10-1-1 against the NFC South. All four teams are three games over .500. That’s the first time in NFL history that four teams from the same division are at least three games above .500 at one time.
• Of course, the AFC North has profited from the wretched state of the NFC South, where the Falcons and Saints are tied for first with 4-7 records. The Panthers are just half a game back with a 3-7-1 mark.
There’s an outcry to change the playoff format, which assures division winners a home game in the postseason. Division winners should make the playoffs, but the league should consider giving home-field in the wild-card games to the teams with the better conference records.
• The Bills’ seven sacks against the Jets increased their league-leading total to 46. They’re on pace for 67 sacks, which would shatter the franchise record of 57 set a year ago. The NFL record for team sacks is 72 by Mike Ditka’s 1984 Bears.
• Boobie Dixon’s blocked punt against the Jets was his second of the year. The Bills had gone eight years without a blocked punt before this season. Dixon is the first Bill with two career blocked punts since Steve Tasker, who had six in his great career.
• People are asking how Giants rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr. lasted until the 12th pick of the draft last May. My question is, would Bills fans rather have Watkins, or Beckham and next year’s No. 1 pick?
• Kyle Orton has quietly gone 156 passes without an interception, going back to the first quarter of the Vikings game. Orton hasn’t been picked off in the second half of a game this year.