New York Jets coach Todd Bowles blitzed the Buffalo Bills into submission Thursday night.
The Jets rushed five men at Tyrod Taylor on 17 of the Bills' first 22 drop-backs. That's an amazing 77 percent. The Jets led the NFL last season with a blitz rate of 40.2 percent and were blitzing at 39 percent this season.
The Jets got five of their seven sacks on blitzes in the 34-21 rout of the Bills.
Bowles loves to attack and has the defensive-line talent to execute it. The Jets blitzed Tom Brady on 21 of 38 pass plays three weeks ago, according to Pro Football Focus. Few coaches dare to blitz Brady much at all. The Jets almost pulled off a win that day, blowing a 14-point second-half lead and losing, 24-17.
Brady completed a well-under-par 20 of 38 attempts. But he took no sacks. And he got the ball downfield to his elite targets – tight end Rob Gronkowski and speed receiver Brandin Cooks – for some big chunk plays.
The Bills, of course, did not dress any elite receiving weapons at MetLife Stadium. They could have used just-acquired Kelvin Benjamin, who they surely will need in the second half of the season.
The Bills needed to hit more passes on the perimeter (as CBS analyst Tony Romo repeatedly observed) against a Jets defense that was missing its best cornerback, Mo Claiborne. Deonte Thompson, while he has been a positive addition, is not a big enough target for Taylor on the perimeter.
Obviously, the Bills also needed a better pass-blocking game, especially from guards Vlad Ducasse and Richie Incognito. Taylor too often could not step up to make throws.
And the Jets did a good job taking advantage of Taylor's relative lack of height by keeping him in a tight pocket. If Taylor could have escaped, he would have had loads of room to scramble, as he did against Tampa Bay two weeks ago. The Jets played to Taylor's weaknesses.
A few screens or swing passes to LeSean McCoy would have helped against the five-man rushes. McCoy was targeted only once out of the backfield. But the Bills had too many negative plays and too many short series to get any kind of offensive rhythm.
Taylor hit 9 of 13 pass attempts against the five-man rushes for 104 yards. None of those passes went for more than 16 yards.
Overall, the Jets blitzed the Bills on 18 of 49 drop-backs (37 percent). But that was because Bowles blitzed only once on the Bills' last 27 drop-backs while protecting a big lead.