The Bills left a bad taste in the mouths of Jets fans, coaches and players last season. The Jets managed to obtain a very respectable 10-6 record, yet still somehow missed the playoffs. This fate was sealed with a week 17 loss to the Rex Ryan led Bills.
Ryan Fitzpatrick– Consider me befuddled. My biggest knock on Fitz this off season was the holding out for money I felt he didn’t deserve. When looking at the tape last season, by which I mean beyond the stats, you realize how many drawbacks Fitz had. His deep passes were inaccurate and it took extra effort from his receivers to make him look good. However, in this game he looked like a 12 million dollar quarterback. He started clumsy with the ball coming loose several times including a recorded fumble which was thankfully recovered by the Jets. He quickly moved past that and picked apart a pair of highly touted corners and a secondary that many considered to be one of the best in the league.
Wide Receivers– Coming off a game where the Jets passing game could be described anemic at best ( not to say the offense didn’t work well in other facets), this game was a revaluation, a return to form if you will. Quincy Enunwa continues his growth, and unlike last week the big two (Decker and Marshall) had stellar games.
Brandon Marshall– Although I mentioned the wide receivers above, I am giving Marshall his own category because of that scary looking injury. From the initial looks of it I gasped in shock, fearing the worst. It looked season ending and, at Marshall’s age, potentially career ending. However, surely enough the machine trotted back onto the field in the next drive.
The bad– Not too much bad on offense, one could argue early on things were looking a little ugly as Fitzpatrick looked like he forgot to hold a football, but these problems were quickly gone. The one big thing that I will point out is Jalin Marshall’s fumble! The Bills turned this one slip up into a big play going in the wrong direction for a touchdown.
The Defensive Line– I have a feeling this unit will be talked about a lot this season and show up frequently in this category. While this performance wasn’t as dominating as their 7 sack showing against the Bengals, this was still a dominant and physically opposing unit that limited one of the best rushing teams in the league last season to just 86 yards on the ground. Only 59 of those yards came from LeSean McCoy. They provided a lot of pressure against a mobile quarterback, and if the secondary helped up a little better they would have done some real damage and the score would have been much more lopsided.
Darrelle Revis/ Game Plan for the Secondary– The secondary gave up two big plays that kept the bills in the game. Two long touchdown passes of over 70 yards kept the Bills hope for a victory alive. One of those plays was directly on Revis, an 84 yard bomb to Michael Goodwin, a receiver with Olympic level speed. Now here’s the thing Revis may have lost a step, but I’m not a fan of how he is being used. During the prime of his career he was such a good shut down corner because of how good he was on the line of scrimmage. He would play man press coverage and receivers would struggle even getting off the line to run their routes. We all know now that he was nursing a wrist injury, an injury that required off season surgery. This is why last season he played a lot of off coverage, gaining a head start against an opposing receiver so he could be in the right place at the right time, of course his age made this difficult and their were times against young speedy receivers where he was simply outclassed. I think in order for Revis to have a good season the defense is going to have to find a way to let him be the physically imposing presence he once was on the line, while having a safety net behind him.
Special Teams Report– The Jets lost only 6 games last season, but in many games they gave up punt returns of kick returns for touchdowns. Furthermore, punting was a real issue last year as well and opponents too often would have a short field to work with. I am happy to report that with a new couch in place and an injection of young talent it looks like the special teams won’t be the liability they were a season ago