No one expected the Bills to struggle so much against the 0-6 Jets, but, at the end of the day, the Bills won, and I think this is the most encouraging win the Bills have had all season. Don’t get me wrong, at halftime, I thought we were going to have a hundo run on us by Frank the WW1 Tank Gore and a career game for Braxton Honey Nut Cheerios. It didn’t look good. But then, I saw from the Bills things I’ve wanted to see all season, and I actually think this game shows good signs for things to come. Let’s get this straight: this was the best Jets game all season. The defense was disciplined and tough, and the offense was imaginatively-called. (Note: Adam Gase did not call the offensive plays this game.) And thank goodness, the Buffalo Bills are 5-2.
Here are 10 things I think I think:
1. Halftime Adjustments!
FINALLY! We saw some effective halftime adjustments by this coaching staff. Before halftime, Sam “Ghost Hunter” Darnold looked like the second coming of Norm Van Brocklin, and Frank Gore was gashing our defensive front like … well, a much younger Frank Gore. We didn’t even run the ball a single time before the middle of the second quarter, and the offense felt extremely predictable. But after half, Daboll put down his chicken wings, wiped off his greasy play sheet with a moist towelette, and realized that, eureka, we do have running plays. The offense was much more balanced in the second half, and the defense, for the first time, looked like the defense from last season. We saw creative blitzes, confusing Darnold, and the Jets had no answer for an aggressive Bills’ front. Yes, the Bills scored no touchdowns in this game, but they didn’t punt, and they moved the ball consistently down the field, smartly attacking the edges of the Jets’ stingy zone defense. I’ll take it.
2. Jerry Hughes won this game.
I’ve been critical of Jerry Hughes’s play this season and all of the “pass rush win rate” people, as he seemed to struggle to touch the QB. But Sunday was different. Hughes looked like Hughes of old. He was unstoppable this game, especially in the second half. And when he didn’t hit Darnold, he influenced the throw or forced him off his spot. Ol’ Jerry finished the day with two sacks, an interception, had a tackle for loss, a pass defense, and led the team in tackles. That is a hell of a stat line. Much respect, Jerry. Now, get Cam next week!
3. Tyler Bass: good or bad?
Tyler Bass accounted for all of the points for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, and he tied Steve Christie’s Bills record with six field goals. Sadly, he scored six FGs on eight attempts. This kid always seems to put some English on the ball. Has he kicked a straight field goal yet? The good: he kicked a beautiful 53-yard bomb and did enough to win. The bad: he missed two field goals, including a 37-yard chip shot. He needs to become more consistent, but he’s young, and I liked his energy this game. Well done, you delicious Bass.
4. Dane Jackson … starter?
Dane Jackson. I liked this kid in college. He isn’t afraid to bring the stick, and he had a heck of a coming-out party for the Bills. Consistently, he was around the ball and showed a lot of fight and energy. He brought some juice. The Dane had two passes defended, three tackles, and he plundered Darnold for a touchdown. It’s one game, but I liked what I saw out of this kid.
5. Daboll needs to think about offensive formations.
Daboll … listen to me. When you go five wide with no RBs in the backfield, the defense knows you’re not going to hand it off. If every time McKenzie comes into the game, you run that jet sweep, even a sloped-forehead fool like Gregg Williams is going to put two and two together. The Bills need to run the ball more, even if they’re not gashing the other team, to make easy passes for Allen via play action. The Bills need to make the defense wonder once in a while, and they need to trust their RBs to do their job. Speaking of …
6. Zach Moss deserves more touches.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Motor. Singletary hasn’t seen much in the way of holes all season, but he’s been decent in the passing game. But Zach “Business Decision” Moss had himself a game, and he deserves more touches going forward. He finished the day with seven rushes for 47 yards (6.7 YPC) and three catches for 25 yards. Not bad. But the thing I like most is that Moss doesn’t seem to go backward. That’s what we need. We need a guy who can grind against the opposing tackles and blast linebackers. That pays off as the game goes on, and I was impressed by his play on Sunday.
7. Tremaine Edmunds needs to hit the jugs machine, but it wasn’t all bad.
Tremaine Edmunds dropped two interceptions against the Jets. (One of those had to be caught!) But Edmunds game wasn’t all bad. I’m sure it helped that Milano was in the game some, but Edmunds made some tackles. He missed Perine on the TD run, but as the game went on, the Kaiju, Edmunds, got into passing lanes, helped organize a more complicated defense, as the Bills finally brought it to the opposing offense. Not bad, man. Keep getting better.
8. Bills Running Backs stoned defenders.
I don’t know if you guys saw this, but Moss, and especially, Singletary, were absolutely stoning blitzing defenders all game. I was very impressed with the pass-protection of these backs, and that is an encouraging sign. If you get a chance to rewatch this game, watch Singletary popping people like his Uncle Mike.
9. Stay cool, Cole Beasley!
Cole Beasley is Mr. Clutch for the Bills this season. He’s getting open, making tough catches, and making tough catches in big spots. Without John Brown, the Jets could double Diggs consistently, and Davis did not have his best game. To be fair, the Jets defense played well. But it was Beasley who carved up the Jets for 112 yards on 11 catches. He had one of the best games of his career, and this is his second 100-yard game this season. Cole, if you give me another 100-yard performance this season, I will listen to your most recent album … all the way through … sober. Nice job, man!
10. How was Josh Allen in this game?
Allen had an intriguing game. I blame Daboll for the first half and the lack of balance. That does not help a young QB. Allen finished the day 30/43 for 307 yards, zero touchdowns or picks, and a fumble. The Bills struggled in the red zone, but I am happy Allen didn’t force the ball into coverage that much. In the second half, Allen led the Bills on sustained drives that choked the life out of the Jets defense, and, again, though they could never finish with a TD, the offense moved the ball consistently down the field, and Allen did a good job attacking the edges of the zone in the second half and taking what they were giving him. Sunday was a mature performance from the cantaloupe farmer from Firebaugh. Plus … that Gabriel Davis TD should have counted. What bunk! What a lame call!
- Way too many penalties for the Bills. Some were … questionable, but you can’t win against good teams when you are penalized 11 times for 106 yards.
- How about Andre Roberts? On kickoff returns, he AVERAGED 40 yards, and on punt returns, he averaged almost 8 yards. I’ll take it.
- Zero punts on Sunday for the Bills. Interesting …
- Six sacks for the defense … only three by defensive linemen.
- Taron Johnson played much better in the second half of the game.
- Ike Boettger was solid. Not bad, son. Not bad.
- The Jets picked up only four yards of total offense in the second half and one first down. That’s more like it!
- Stefon Diggs had an OK game, not great. But man, it was good to see somebody bringing juice to the team.
Next week, the Buffalo Bills take on the (good?) New England Patriots. Can we slay that aged dragon? Did the defense figure something out? Will Moss make the Pats defenders make business decisions? Only time will tell …
Thanks for the read, y’all! You can listen to me (@adamnannini) and my partner, Nate Asper (@asper_nate), a Lions fan, every week as we make game picks on The NFL Basement podcast! You can find us on every major podcast app, so give us a listen and subscribe!