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Jay Skurski's Bills-Jets Report Card: You can't spell 'woof' without 'F'

Grading the Bills


LeSean McCoy usually shines in prime time. Not Thursday, though. McCoy was largely bottled up, gaining just 25 yards on 12 carries. That was bad, but even worse was the effort from Mike Tolbert. He gained just 4 yards on three carries. That’s not going to make defenses respect the run game when McCoy is out. Taylor had just one carry, but it did go for 18 yards on a nice play design to convert third and 1. The offensive line gets an F for its part in the run struggles.


Tyrod Taylor’s protection betrayed him in the first half. The Jets racked up five sacks of Taylor. You have to go back to Nov. 4, 2001 against Indianapolis to find a game in which the Bills have given up that many in the first half. Taylor was good in the first two quarters, going 11 of 14 for 115 yards and a touchdown. Rookie receiver Zay Jones is coming on. He caught his first career touchdown in the second quarter, covering 10 yards on a third-and-9 play. Jones ran a great route to get as much separation as he did in tight quarters. Give the offensive line an F, here, too.


Woof. Missed tackles. Wide-open running lanes. You name it, the Bills provided it. The low point looked like it came in the third quarter, when safety Jordan Poyer and cornerback Tre’Davious White blew tackles on back-to-back plays, allowing the Jets to score the touchdown that basically sealed their win. That wasn’t it, though. The true low point came early in the fourth quarter, when the Jets took over at Buffalo’s 5-yard line and were able to basically waltz right through the middle of the defense for a touchdown. That looked like a team that simply quit.


There were far too many soft spots in the Bills’ zone defense that might have gotten exposed more, but from the Jets’ standpoint, why throw when you can run? Rookie Tre’Davious White was smoked for a touchdown. The pass rush was a non-factor again, except for bad moments like when Shaq Lawson took a roughing-the-passer penalty that got the Jets into field-goal range in the second quarter. Cedric Thornton also took a facemask penalty on what should have been an easy sack, while Leonard Johnson dropped what should have been an interception in the first quarter. That was a play he absolutely has to make.


It was an eventful first quarter for Taiwan Jones. He got an extended talking to by coach Sean McDermott after taking a block-in-the-back penalty on the Jets’ first punt, putting the Bills in bad field position. Jones, however, made up for it by covering the Bills’ first punt and dropping Jets returner Jeremy Kerley after only a 3-yard return after a booming 53-yard punt by Colton Schmidt out of the Buffalo end zone. Colton Schmidt had a strong game, with a 44.2-yard net average. Silver linings, I guess. I’m not a fan of having Micah Hyde returning punts – he’s too valuable to the defense.


Who replaced Sean McDermott with Rex Ryan? This was an absolute disaster from start to finish for the Bills, who looked unprepared, undisciplined and otherwise not ready to play on the national stage. A whole bunch of the good will built up by this team in a 5-2 start will disappear in a hurry after and effort like that. Slow starts are a huge problem with the Bills going scoreless in the first quarter for the sixth time this season. The first drive of the second half ending in a three-and-out when it was just a 10-7 deficit continued what has been another season-long issue.

Grading the Jets


Matt Forte found the fountain of youth, exploding for a pair of touchdowns. Bilal Powell got into the action with a 51-yard gain in the second half. Heck, even Josh McCown used his legs to score a rushing touchdown. There were some negative runs for New York, but those were a distant memory by the end of the game.


Josh McCown worked the underneath portions of the Bills’ zone defense well. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 140 yards, mostly on underneath crossing routes. McCown expertly changed the play at the line of scrimmage before making a perfect throw to Robby Anderson for a 25-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.


Before the season opener between these two teams, the Jets’ rush defense was thought to be one of their strengths. It hadn’t happened, as New York ranked 27th in the NFL coming into the game. The Bills, though, were the perfect tonic for what ailed the Jets. Led by Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson, the defensive line suffocated Buffalo’s running backs. Even cornerback Daryl Roberts got into the act, making a nice open-field tackle.


Back-to-back sacks in the second quarter drove home the point that this game was controlled by the Jets’ pass rush. New York finished with seven sacks, five of which came in the first half. Cornerback Buster Skrine pulled a punk move when he tripped receiver Zay Jones, who was about to beat him deep. Thankfully for the Bills, Jones was able to return from a knee injury.


Chandler Catanzaro drilled a 45-yard field goal in the second quarter to put the Jets up, 10-7. For a kicker who was thought to be on the hot seat coming into the season, he’s had a good year. Catanzaro boomed his kickoffs, too, taking the Bills’ return unit out of the game. The return units did their job.


From across the state, Todd Bowles looks to have done a good job this season. The Jets clearly aren’t tanking, or the worst team in the league. In fact, it’s not even close. Bowles has his team playing hard. I would have liked him to show some aggressiveness on the first drive of the game, but he elected to punt on fourth and about 6 inches from his own 33-yard line. NFL coaches just refuse to be aggressive. There was also a blown timeout after a penalty, but those are trivial complaints.

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