3TFO = Three Things To Focus On.
I figured this might spark a little discussion today because of Pouha being out and some other conversations. Like Spiller having 72% of his snaps being as a WR before Jacksons injury.
Or the fact that Stevie accounted for 31% of all yards against Revis last year with 11 receptions for 159 yards and the lone TD against Revis. Although one has to wonder what Randy Moss would have done with Brady still throwing him the ball.
The other thing to focus in on are the Jets tackles. Bills fans tend to not talk a lot about Mark Anderson but he took a weapon away from the Pats and Anderson already knows the division and has had success there so that's a major plus.
Any chance that the Jets leave Austin Howard matched up 1 on 1 against Mario the majority of the game? Ya, I doubt it too - 1 less target for Sanchez.
The 2012 NFL season ramps up quickly for the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets. Both teams have an uphill battle to knock the New England Patriots from their perch atop the AFC East, and a division win in Week 1 would be a great start.
Buffalo fans are giddy with anticipation to see the impact their big free agency signings will make. Many forget that the Bills challenged for the best record in the AFC last season before Fred Jackson’s broken leg and Ryan Fitzpatrick’s second-half swoon. The Jets crumbled last season under the weight of their coach’s guarantees and high expectations, and now the spotlight is even brighter with their uncertain quarterback situation. At this point, it’s simply guesswork to predict what Tony Sparano’s offense will look like.
Let’s get away from the back page and forget the hype and hypothetical, and instead focus on three matchups to watch for this Sunday.
Escaping The Island
Brandon Marshall. Hakeem Nicks. Vincent Jackson. These receivers are among the many whoDarrelle Revis shut down last year, en route to a +24.6 grade that led all cornerbacks. However, there is one wideout who has repeatedly shown the ability to escape Revis Island intact: Stevie Johnson. Revis surrendered only one touchdown all last season, and that was to Johnson in Week 12. Quarterbacks had a combined 45.6 passer rating when they threw in Revis’ direction last year, but Fitzpatrick led them with a 107.5 rating against the All-Pro cornerback. Johnson beat Revis for 11 receptions and 159 yards in their two meetings, which accounted for 31% of the yardage the Jet surrendered all season.
In our Marquee Matchup breakdown of their last contest, we noted that the Bills often isolated Johnson on Revis. This allowed Johnson to use his athleticism to win one-on-one matchups, but it also was designed to keep Revis from keying on any of Buffalo’s other receivers. When these two line up on Sunday, take note whether the Bills replicate that strategy or instead try to get Johnson open with route combinations. Targeting Revis is a dangerous game, but it’s one that Johnson has survived before.
Living on The Edge
The edges of the trenches have been a focus for both the Jets’ offense and the Bills’ defense this offseason, for very different reasons. Offensive linemen often say that their goal is to stay anonymous, but few Jet players were more well-known in New York than right tackleWayne Hunter. His dismal play in 2011 (-20.3, sixth-worst among tackles) culminated in the Jets trading him to the Rams last week for the equally-beleaguered Jason Smith (-3.0 in six games last year). Smith will be a backup for now, leaving the unproven Austin Howard to protect the right edge. Howard allowed two sacks as an Eagle in his only career start back in 2010, and he’ll be thrown into the fire this week against the Bills’ rejuvenated pass rush.
After trying, and failing, to manufacture outside pressure with a hybrid 3-4/4-3 front the past two seasons, Buffalo spent big money this offseason to grab Mario Williams and fellow defensive end Mark Anderson. Coming over from the Patriots, Anderson is familiar with the Jets and tallied nine total pressures in two games against them last year. The last time Williams played New York, in Week 11 of the 2010 season, he abused their tackles to the tune of two sacks, a QB hit, and eight pressures. D’Brickashaw Ferguson surrendered just two pressures in two games against the Bills last year, but New York’s reliable left tackle will now have his hands full with Williams and Anderson. See if the Jets’ running backs and tight ends have to give their tackles some help on the edge.
Stopping Buffalo’s Two-Headed Backfield
With the amount of attention that is paid to Rex Ryan’s innovative blitz schemes, it’s easy to forget how strong the Jets’ defense is against the run. It all starts with Sione Pouha, Mike Devito, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Bart Scott, who combined for 126 stops last season. Pouha particularly shined with grades of +2.9 and +2.2 in his two games against the Bills. The Jets’ front seven held a red-hot Jackson to a merely-human 84 rushing yards in their first meeting, and replacement C.J. Spiller struggled for only 55 yards on 19 carries in the rematch.
Spiller proved himself worthy of more playing time with his +8.3 grade in the Bills’ final five games, but Jackson’s silly 80.7 Elusive Rating indicates that he may be the better option against the Jets’ stout defenders. Better yet, the Bills could take a page out of the Patriots’ playbook and try to bypass Pouha, Devito, Wilkerson and Scott with personnel changes. The Bills are partial to three- and four-wide receiver spread formations to begin with, so it’s not a stretch for them to force the Jets into a nickel package and then hit them with a run while their big guys are on the sidelines. Spiller’s versatility as a runner and receiver will come in handy here, as he lined up out wide on 72% of his snaps last year before Jackson’s injury. And if Pouha’s back injury keeps him out of the game completely, the Bills may not even have to go to those lengths to have success on the ground.