The right side of the Buffalo Bills’ offensive line struggled in Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets.
Right guard John Miller returned from a one-game absence, which was good news because Jeremiah Sirles struggled mightily in his place last week in Miami.
Yet Miller had one of his toughest games of the season, allowing five hurries and one-half sack in the 27-23 loss.
Right tackle Jordan Mills continued his generally mediocre play by giving up four hurries.
The Bills’ offensive line got the better of the Jets four weeks ago in New York. But the Jets’ beefy defensive linemen – Leonard Williams, Harry Anderson, Steve McLendon and Mike Pennell – combined to jam the middle of the line. The Bills’ running backs averaged just 2.9 yards a carry. Williams had seven pressures on quarterback Josh Allen.
Miller also gave up the penetration on the blocked field goal at the end of the first half. He didn’t get a piece of Anderson, who squeezed between Miller and snapper Reid Ferguson.
As advertised, the Bills faced more blitzes than in any other game this year – 18, which was 35.3 percent of Allen's drop backs (counting penalty plays). Thanks to Allen’s elusiveness, the Bills managed the blitz OK.
Allen scrambled three times for 58 yards and a TD against the blitz. He was 7 of 12 passing for 93 yards vs. the blitz. Good numbers.
But the Bills’ pass protection wasn’t good enough with the game on the line. Pressure on Allen allowed the Jets to get four third-down stops in the second half – on third-and-8, third-and-3, third-and-20 and third-and-5 situations.
Here are the position-by-position grades for the Bills against the Jets, based on video review and on a scale of 1 to 5:
Offensive line (1.5): The Bills need a little more athleticism than they get from Ryan Groy, Miller and Mills, which tended to cause trouble on the Jets’ stunts.
Left tackle Dion Dawkins fared better than those three but gave up one sack when he couldn’t contain Brandon Copeland on a reach block.
Quarterback (3.5): Counting passing and rushing, Allen produced 307 yards. It should have been good enough for a win, even though he made three turnovers, two on forced passes into coverage. He left a clean pocket on the scramble during which he fumbled. Nevertheless, there were a lot of encouraging passes, including two third-down strikes to Robert Foster, one to Isaiah McKenzie and a back-shoulder throw to Foster. The Bills managed only 18 yards on seven first-down blitz plays. Allen was only 3 of 13 passing for 37 yards on first down.
Running backs (2.0): The Bills missed the elusiveness of LeSean McCoy, who was superb in the win over the Jets a month ago. Chris Ivory ran hard between the tackles, but the Jets didn’t have to worry about him bouncing outside as much and brought sensational Jamal Adams down for run support. Good game planning by Brian Daboll produced a couple good jet sweeps (and a TD) by McKenzie.
Receivers (2.0): Foster’s emergence continues. He had seven catches for 104 yards, including a good adjustment on a 38-yard, back-shoulder throw that set up the go-ahead field goal. However, he was flagged for blocking downfield on two receiver screens. The second one was a killer in Jets territory with the game tied, 20-20. Zay Jones drew a 33-yard penalty and had three catches. But he had two critical drops in Jets territory. One came before the second-quarter blocked field goal. The other was before the fourth-quarter missed field goal. Drops have not been a problem for Jones this year. The Bills needed those catches. Charles Clay also had a drop. Blocking by tight ends is a league-wide problem, and Logan Thomas hasn’t distinguished himself in that area.
Defensive line (3.0): Jerry Hughes manhandled left tackle Kelvin Beacham a month ago. Credit Beacham with a much better showing in the rematch, and the Jets helped him with a double team or chip block on five key situations. Hughes had a hurry on Sam Darnold’s interception and on Darnold’s spectacular fourth-quarter TD pass. The Bills blitzed on only five of 25 drop backs and needed more surge from other defensive linemen. The Jets averaged only 2.8 yards a carry. Star Lotulelei did a good job plugging the middle.
Linebackers (3.5): Matt Milano gave the Bills a stellar game before being carted off late in the fourth quarter. Milano fought off center Jonotthan Harrison to help make the tackle on Darnold on the goal line, a play on which he was injured. It was another solid game for Tremaine Edmunds, who made eight tackles and an interception (a gift from Darnold).
Defensive backs (3.5): Tre’Davious White gave up two key completions, but both were elite passes by Darnold. The first was a 37-yard pass to Robbie Anderson, made even harder because Lotulelei was in the QB’s face. The second was the 7-yard TD to Anderson. You can’t blame White. He had to cover for 10.1 seconds because Darnold scrambled cross-country in the backfield while eluding Hughes and Kyle Williams. Jordan Poyer made a good tackle on the goal line before the winning TD. Micah Hyde does a multitude of little things right. Late in the third quarter, he diagnosed an out-and-up route by Anderson and blanketed him, forcing a check-down that Shaq Lawson batted down. Late in the fourth, Hyde ran forward 10 yards to prevent a short punt from hitting the ground. The Bills then marched to a go-ahead field goal.
Special teams (1.0): Special teams cost the Bills a second straight game. In last week’s four-point loss at Miami, a muffed punt gifted the Dolphins a TD, and the Bills missed an extra point. This time, bad kickoff coverage directly led to 10 points. Even the Jets’ final drive was aided by the fact the Bills had to squib kick to Andre Roberts and gave the Jets 5 more yards with a kickoff formation penalty. Then there was the blocked field goal.
The Bills entered the game 20th in average drive start after kickoffs by their defense. Overall, the Jets’ average drive start was their 47 and the Bills’ was their 27. The opponent has had a better starting position in five of the last seven games. The Bills aren’t good enough to overcome multiple special-teams mistakes.