The New York Jets were defeated by the Buffalo Bills 21-12 in an underwhelming season opener. It could’ve been much worse at New Era Field.
The Jets were out-gained 408-214 in total yardage, allowed 190 rushing yards and surrendered 23 first downs to a Bills offense that isn’t overly talented. Not much went right for the Jets Sunday afternoon, here’s everything that went wrong:
Struggles at linebacker
New York’s linebackers struggled mightily throughout the afternoon and were easily the weakest link on the field. Demario Davis and Darron Lee both struggled mightily in coverage, were frequently out of position and bit on play-action fakes often, leading to gaffes in coverage. The box score might indicate a better showing for both. Davis led the team with 14 total tackles and Lee finished second with 10 and one sack. But it was an ugly performance for both inside backers.
Offensive line woes
The Jets’ offensive line was just as bad as it had been all preseason Sunday. The Jets rushed for 38 yards on only 15 carries and tailbacks Matt Forte and Bilal Powell couldn’t find much room to run aside from a few big gains. The longest run of the day for New York was an 11-yard gain by Powell on a draw play where the seas actually parted along the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Josh McCown was sacked just once Sunday, but the protection crumbled often on obvious passing situations. McCown’s game-sealing interception was a result of pressure from both edges, but it seemed McCown adjusted the protection at the line of scrimmage.
It wasn’t a good day for Todd Bowles and his coaching staff. The head coach made a couple of curious decisions and his coordinators didn’t seem to have many answers either.
Let’s start with Bowles, who curiously went for two after Josh McCown’s touchdown sneak made it 14-12 with two minutes to go in the third quarter. McCown was intercepted on the two-point pass attempt and the defense allowed the Bills to march 80 yards in nine plays to take a crucial 21-12 lead that stood strong the rest of the way. Bowles also curiously decided to punt the ball away with four minutes left with the ball on New York’s 44-yard line. It was a puzzling decision, especially when considering how bad New York’s defense had performed.
Defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers didn’t have a great day either, as his team suffered from a bunch of “missed assignments,” as Bowles put it. Offensive coordinator John Morton did a good job of getting the ball out of McCown’s hands quickly, but he fell into an unbalanced trap. The Jets had 39 pass attempts compared to only 15 rushes.