Mike White? Who knew? End of piece… Just kidding.
These two vastly different teams are preparing to face the other under similar circumstances. Both teams have been erratic as of late. For the New York Jets, inconsistency was expected this year. Conversely, that’s not true for the Buffalo Bills. Oddly enough though, the 2021 season has become a wool sweater’s trip through a dryer on high heat: a mess. Every “top” team in the AFC has suffered some sort of off-kilter, shocking, panic-inducing loss. Last week’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars was the Bills’. Meanwhile, the Jets recently knocked off the surging Cincinnati Bengals.
So then, what do we make of all this? Surely, the Buffalo Bills are the better team. Right? The answer is ”yes”. However, The Spy is done making definitive claims. Too many times this season, they have been discarded by the football gods. As Bills QB Josh Allen said to the media, “we’re just going to try and go 1-0 from here on.” To look at this matchup objectively, we must approach it with a clean slate. Without further ado, here’s how and why the Jets are a threat and what Bills Mafia needs to know about them.
SPY 1: Mike Who?
Mike White, the New York Jets’ steely-eyed missile man, launched headlong into his burgeoning NFL career just a few short weeks ago. The 6’5”, 220lb athletic Quarterback has an aura of confidence and aggression, a healthy shoulder chip, and a sharp mind. Sometimes, these mavericks come out of nowhere.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are at the point where Mike White may remain the starter even after Zach Wilson, the 2021 #2 overall pick, returns from injury. Let that sink in. Mike White has figured out how to utilize the few weapons that the Jets do have and use them well. He has managed to accurately and effectively pass the ball at all levels. His short pass game is decisive and anticipatory. His intermediate game is well-timed and distributed throughout the field. White’s deep ball is a dagger-like weapon, used at the right times. Most notably, Mike White has ignited the play-action passing game, marrying it up with standout rookie RB Michael Carter.
What is most surprising to me, is how Mike White affects the game. Against Cincinnati, Mike White was methodical and unflinching. It was a summary dissection of the Bengals defense; a dissertation on quarterbacking. One week later, in primetime against Indianapolis, Mike White again led the Jets on a first drive answer for seven before exiting with a hand injury. Coming into this game, Mike White carries an impressive stat line: five touchdown passes, 700+ passing yards, and a 72% completion percentage (per NFL.com player statistics).
VERDICT: Mike White’s biggest weakness will be his inexperience vs elite secondaries, something the Bills have. Even without the elite presence of Taron Johnson at the Nickle CB position, I expect the Bills secondary to pull out every ace in the hole to confuse Mike White and force him into mistakes. He’s thrown four interceptions on the year, so it can be done.
SPY 2: The Michael Carter
Michael Carter is a promising young rookie RB who has performed admirably thus far in his NFL career, despite being part of a (mostly) anemic offense and running behind a flawed offensive line. (Not to be confused with mediocre rookie Jets defensive back Michael Carter.) It is my assertion that Carter is one of the Jets’ most versatile and effective offensive weapons. There are two players since the beginning of the 2020 season who have amassed 75+ rushing yards and 90+ receiving yards in a single game. One is Alvin Kamara, the other… Michael Carter.
On numerous occasions this season, Carter has single-handedly carried the New York Jets offense. Carter has the durability and stamina to be a complete workhorse and all-purpose RB. He has more than double the snaps and attempts of the next-closest Jet. Carter’s vision, contact balance, and tackle-breaking make him almost impossible to bring down, even near the line of scrimmage. Carter is not the fastest by any means but makes up for this in his anticipatory skills. So many times, Bills fans have become frustrated with Devin Singletary’s hesitation and east-west dance moves, or Zack Moss’s propensity to run straight into defenders instead of veering to gaps. Carter exhibits neither of these weaknesses. Instead, Carter can sense gaps, exploit them with violence of action, and then build his momentum while remaining fleet-of-foot enough to alter course and evade defenders.
VERDICT: Carter is a massive threat to the Bills. Because of his versatility, it makes it difficult to diagnose what he is going to do on a given play. Expect the Bills linebacking corps, minus Tremaine Edmunds, to hone in on containing Carter. I expect Carter to play very well.
SPY 3: Wings Clipped
The New York Jets defense, as a whole, is simply horrendous. I know what I said about Jacksonville but, statistically speaking, it is a poor defense. Additionally, the Jets defense is dealing with a bad case of the injury bug right now. One of their best safeties, Marcus Maye, went on the IR last week and the team has none of its starting defensive backs active now. In fact, the secondary is comprised entirely of lower-end depth chart players, like the aforementioned CB Michael Carter.
The Jets defense is extremely vulnerable to the passing game. If the Bills cannot capitalize upon this weakness, then there are serious issues. The Jets defense is also vulnerable to the run, having been recently decimated by Jonathan Taylor of the Colts. It will be interesting to see how the Bills approach this game on the heels of nine total rushes vs Jacksonville and comments from Sean McDermott eluding to the necessity of an efficient rushing game as the season progresses.
SPY 4: Mosley the Defense
Though standout linebacker C.J. Mosley is sloshing through the dregs of another poor season, he is sharpening his play and looking more himself as the season progresses. He is the quarterback of the Jets defense and is its most cerebral player. The Bills offense will need to watch out for his quick and decisive action.
SPY 5: Quinnen Is Winnin’
Quinnen Williams may finally be maturing into the star DT that the Jets hoped he would be. He is having his best season and is, by far, the best performing player along the Jets defensive line. He comes into this game tied for fifth-most sacks in the NFL with five total. It is evident that Williams has honed his abilities to hand-fight and defeat the blocks of offensive lineman and continue his rush. He is not the fastest DT, but winning hand-fights can be the difference between winning and losing the pass rush rep.
DARK HORSE BONUS POINT: MetLife Mayhem
This is a reminder that MetLife Stadium has had a horrible and controversial problem with the quality and consistency of the playing surface. Despite past investigation by the NFL, which found no conclusive safety issues, many players have been vocal about the inadequate quality of the field. Expect the Bills to prepare for this issue.
Each opponent will be ranked on a 1-10 scale. The higher the number = The greater the threat to the Bills.
New York Jets Threat Rating = 5
In closing, please follow The Buffalo Fanatics on all platforms, trust the process and go Bills.
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