Buffalo Bills Fall to the New York Jets: What Went Wrong?

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 02: Running back Matt Forte
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 02: Running back Matt Forte /

Bills simply outclassed in East Rutherford, NJ

It was a dark, gray, and gloomy Friday morning which symbolized the feelings of many Bills fans following the team’s disheartening 34-21 loss to the New York Jets the night before.

From the very first snap, the Buffalo offense was stifled by a stingy Jets defense much to the chagrin of Bills fans who have become accustomed to their team’s consistently shoddy performances on national television in recent years.

It wasn’t only the offense that performed poorly, however. The Bills’ run defense was lackluster all game long and was a major factor in handing them their 3rd road loss which dropped them to 5-3 overall. The following are just a few of the numerous miscues that led to Buffalo’s largest margin of defeat so far this season:

Turnover battle was lost for the first time

Coming into Thursday night, the Bills boasted a league-leading +14 turnover differential, but they coughed up 3 fumbles to the Jets while not forcing any of their own.

WR Jordan Matthews was responsible for one in the closing seconds of the 2nd quarter which halted a promising looking Buffalo drive.

TE Nick O’Leary also fumbled on a bizarre play in which he thought he was down but was subsequently stripped after returning to his feet by Jets safety, Marcus Maye. QB Tyrod Taylor eventually had the 3rd fumble at the end of the 3rd quarter which essentially was the nail in the coffin for the Bills.

Further indicating that it was not meant to be, Bills DB Leonard Johnson dropped a sure interception in the 1st quarter that would have set Buffalo up on the Jets’ 30 yard line for some easy points. It was one of those nights for Buffalo.

Horrific pass protection

Buffalo’s first offensive snap resulted in Tyrod Taylor getting sacked at his goal line, and the pressure wouldn’t stop for the remainder of the game. Taylor was brought down behind the line of scrimmage by a bevy of defenders 7 times, 4 of which came in the 2nd quarter. Even when he wasn’t outright sacked, he was constantly being hurried which prevented him from ever getting into a rhythm.

Entering Thursday’s contest, the offensive line was giving up 2.7 sacks per game which have since been elevated to 3.3 and 26 total on the season.

Tackling was subpar

Different from prior Bills’ games, the tackling deteriorated against the Jets, particularly with the run which enabled New York to punish Buffalo for 194 yards on the ground.  The Bills’ run defense had been among the league’s best before this match up in limiting opponents to a dismal 80.1 yards per game rushing.

Leading the way for the Jets were RBs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell who combined for 77 and 74 yards on 14 and 9 carries, respectively.

Perhaps it was due to the Bills’ success in forcing turnovers leading up to the game, but there were a few instances in which a Buffalo player attempted to strip the football rather than simply bringing the ball carrier down.

In one instance, CB Tre’davious White tried to rip the ball out of TE Seferian-Jenkins‘ grasp but failed to allow him to gain a first down on a 20 yard play. LB Lorenzo Alexander had also missed a tackle on the big tight end before he was finally pushed out of bounds.

Bilal Powell broke several arm tackles on this on this 50 yard run.

2nd straight week with 11 penalties

Buffalo had 11 penalties for 99 yards against the Jets following a week in which they had 11 for 95 yards vs. the Raiders.

The lack of discipline was resemblant of Bills teams underneath Rex Ryan and has been a focus of new head coach, Sean McDermott, since the beginning of his tenure. The Bills had been good about this before the Oakland game as they had not given up more than 69 yards in penalties through the first 6 games.

There were few in-game adjustments

Following the first half, there appeared to be very few, if any, adjustments on both sides of the ball. The offense seemed very much the same as Taylor continued to be pressured and RB LeSean McCoy was given very little running room.

During the first quarter, Taylor performed a read-option in which he faked the hand off to McCoy thereby drawing in the Jets defenders and ran the ball himself outside for a nice 20 yard play. That was the only such play of its type despite its success.

It is puzzling that offensive coordinator, Rick Dennison, does not call more plays that give Taylor the opportunity to run the ball as his mobility is clearly the strongest aspect of his arsenal. He will never be the prototypical, 6 foot 5 pocket passer, so why not play to his strengths more often? Injuries are always a risk, but to be successful in the NFL you need to have a mixture of health, luck, and skill.

Since anything can happen at any time, (see Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers) the Bills should not hold Taylor back and let him play to his strengths.

Looking forward

There were not many positives from last night’s contest, but Tyrod Taylor did have a solid game statistically as he was 29/40 for 285 yards and 3 touchdowns. Much of this did come in “garbage” time at the end of the game, but it was good to see him spread the ball to several different receivers.

WRs Deonte Thompson and Zay Jones led the way with 81 and 53 yards on 7 and 6 receptions, respectively. Thompson has now played very well in two of his three games with the Bills and has established himself as a reliable receiver for Taylor.

This was Jones’ best game of the season, and it is an encouraging sign as he also played well against Oakland after a shaky start to the season. He reeled in his first NFL touchdown and had one of the more creative celebrations of the year:

It certainly is easy to overreact to this latest slip up, but the Bills will need to rebound as they’ll be up against a hot New Orleans team next week. They’ll need to take advantage of the extended rest and hopefully get some players healthy including TE Chuck Clay and CB E.J. Gaines.

Next: Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets: Vegas Line, Weather, Predictions

Don’t panic yet Bills fans, it’s only one game, and the team is still well within reach of the postseason. Trust the process.