BUFFALO – The Bills rolled over the Jets 27-17 on Sunday to open the 2020 season in a game that was not as close as the final score. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game:
1. The most disturbing part of this game was just how uncompetitive the Jets were in the first half. Most people expected the Bills to win this game. They were a favorite by nearly a touchdown, a playoff team last year and the Jets are in the early stages of a rebuild. Still, this is the NFL. Games should be competitive and it felt like we were watching Alabama playing Austin Peay in the first half.
This has happened too often in the year-plus that Adam Gase has been the Jets coach. This was the eighth time in 17 games the Jets have lost by double digits under Gase. Last season, there were some easy explanations why – Sam Darnold missed three games with mono and they were ravaged by injuries along the offensive line. On Sunday, there was no explanation for how ill prepared the Jets looked.
The Jets managed four yards on their first three drives. These are the plays the Jets practice over and over all week because they are in the script and the Jets could not get one first down.
The “Fire Gase” crowd is overreacting. It is one game. He went 7-9 last year, which is not a first-year record that gets you fired. But Gase needs to fix this … fast. He needs to get Darnold on track. He needs to come up with a way to move the ball against a tough 49ers defense this week. He needs to get this team competitive against good teams.
2. One player I thought the Jets did not miss Sunday was safety Jamal Adams, who the team traded to Seattle in July. Adams had a great debut for the Seahawks on Sunday in Atlanta with 12 tackles and a sack against the Falcons. After the game, he ran his mouth, of course.
But I did not think the Jets missed him because Marcus Maye had a great game in Adams’ old spot. Maye played close to the line of scrimmage and came away with 10 tackles, two sacks, two passes defensed and a forced fumble.
Maye was one of the only bright spots for the Jets. Maye had a phenomenal training camp and looks poised to take a step forward in his career. Maye is a free agent after this season so his timing could end up with a nice payday.
3. On the other hand, the player I kept thinking about in the first half was linebacker C.J. Mosley. The Jets could have used him on Sunday. The Jets defense looked confused and on its heels in the first half. Bills quarterback Josh Allen was extending plays with his feet and getting around the edge. Mosley would have made a difference, both in his play and his ability to calm his teammates down and provide direction.
When Mosley opted out of this season due to COVID-19 concerns, it was a crushing blow. It was a bigger loss for the Jets than Adams, who might be a better player and is younger than Mosley. But Mosley is a more important player for the Jets as their inside linebacker and quarterback of the defense. Neville Hewitt did OK last year in Mosley’s place, but he’ll never be Mosley. The Jets really missed him Sunday and you wonder how much they’ll miss him all season.
4. While the focus of Sunday’s loss will fall on Gase and Darnold, general manager Joe Douglas should not escape blame. Douglas took a gamble this offseason by trying to fill holes on this team without spending big money. He put his focus on giving himself salary cap flexibility next year, but he sacrificed some things this year. That was on display Sunday.
It is hard to judge his rebuilt offensive line yet, although the running game was non-existent. The bigger problems were at cornerback, wide receiver and edge rusher. These were three spots that were obvious holes this offseason. Douglas signed Pierre Desir to a one-year, $3.5 million deal to play cornerback rather than spending big on Byron Jones or James Bradberry. That may look like a good decision in the long run. On Sunday, it looked like a disaster. Desir committed two penalties and gave up a touchdown before getting benched in the second quarter.
At wide receiver, the Jets gave Breshad Perriman a one-year, $6.5 million contract rather than paying Robby Anderson, who got a two-year, $20 million deal from the Panthers. Perriman had three catches for 17 yards on Sunday. Anderson had a 75-yard touchdown for Carolina.
The Jets’ best pass rusher was Maye. Edge rusher is a position Jets GMs have ignored for the last decade. Douglas passed on signing Jadeveon Clowney or trading for Yannick Ngakoue this offseason. Again, those might be the right calls long-term, but they sure could have used an impact pass rusher Sunday. The Jets sacked Allen three times – all by defensive backs (Brian Poole and Maye). They only had four quarterback hits in the game. Allen had way too much time.
Douglas’ roster looked bad on Sunday. The coaching and playing will get most of the attention but the roster construction should not escape unscathed.
The Jets’ average starting field position was their own 21. The Bills’ average starting field position was their own 40. The Jets had tons of issues Sunday and field position was one of them.
Surprising snap count
Rookie safety Ashtyn Davis played zero defensive snaps in the game. I did not expect Davis to take snaps away from Marcus Maye or Bradley McDougald, but thought Gregg Williams might deploy some three safety looks, especially with linebacker Blake Cashman hurt. Davis is athletic and can cover ground.
Maye is the obvious choice here. He was disruptive with two sacks and all over the field with 10 tackles.