Bills vs. Jets 2013: five questions with the enemy

Jared Wickerham

To prepare for the Buffalo Bills' Week 3 matchup with the New York Jets, we spoke with John Butchko at SB Nation's Jets blog, Gang Green Nation. Read on for his take on key Jets players and themes.

Has the Jets' defense changed at all with Mike Pettine out of town, or will Sunday be a master-and-apprentice situation between he and Rex Ryan, with both the Bills and the Jets running the same defense against rookie quarterbacks?

Butchko: Over the Ryan/Pettine years, the defensive responsibility shifted. In 2009 Ryan was primarily in charge of the defense. Over the years, Pettine was gradually given more and more responsibility. By 2012 it was mainly Pettine's defense.

With that in mind, there is one major similarity and one major difference. Both like to throw a lot of different looks at an opposing offense to try and confuse them. The difference is in tendencies. Ryan is more aggressive. He likes to send heavy blitz packages and rely on his secondary to hold up. Pettine leans more on his coverage, in a relative sense. I expect the similarities to outweigh the differences. Both will probably look to aggressively attack and confuse an opposing rookie quarterback.

Dee Milliner was benched at halftime against New England. Do you expect him to regain his starting spot over Darrin Walls in Week 3 - and regardless of who starts, how big a concern is that corner spot opposite Antonio Cromartie?

Butchko: Milliner has looked overwhelmed since preseason. Last week on New England's only touchdown the Patriots had a receiver run free, and it looked like it was supposed to be Milliner's man. The rookie lined up in the wrong spot.

For a point of reference, the last time the Jets had a first-round corner it was Kyle Wilson. Wilson similarly got a big role at the start of the year, but struggled a lot early. Ryan eventually buried him on the bench, which shows he isn't afraid to give his rookie corners the hook if they prove to be unready. With this in mind, I wouldn't be surprised to see Walls or Wilson, who grew into a solid corner and started most of 2012, slide into the lineup. They both could help bring stability to the position.

We've seen plenty of Muhammad Wilkerson to know what he's capable of. Tell us a little bit about Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison, and how the Jets' new-look defensive line has fared this season.

Butchko: Harrison is the typical run stuffing, two-gapping nose tackle. He's been very effective taking on and beating blockers and winning the point of attack.

Richardson is a more unique player. He has a pretty incredible burst for a man of his size. He can use his quickness to overwhelm blockers off the snap. He is also never out of the play because of how quickly he can close. You usually don't hear the phrase "sideline to sideline defender" with an interior lineman, but Richardson is one.

My sense, in watching a bit of each of the Jets' first two games, is that Geno Smith hasn't been as bad as his statistics indicate. How do fans believe he's performed, in general, in his first two pro starts?

Butchko: My inclination is to agree with you. It is difficult to separate the quarterback play from the rest of the offense because everybody seems to be struggling. Smith has made some big time throws into tight windows, and his receivers have hurt him by not coming up with those balls. With even adequate receiver play, the games the Jets have played might be very different, and Smith might not have been in a position to have made some of the mistakes he has made. The Jets through two games have essentially asked Smith to carry the load. There are going to be some missteps when that happens with a rookie quarterback.

Overall, though, Smith hasn't been particularly good. There are two things that are definitely his fault. He has frozen under pressure, and he has turned the ball over five times, four of which were almost entirely his fault. That can't happen and needs to be cleaned up.

There has been a lot of change amongst the Jets' skill positions. Can you give us an idea of what the pecking order has looked like amongst the backs, receivers and tight ends as the Jets try to involve their best playmakers?

Butchko: Bilal Powell seems to be the top back. He is getting around double the snaps Chris Ivory is. That is a point of consternation among Jets fans. Powell is a better receiver and blocker, but Ivory is much more explosive and a tougher runner. Fans are hoping a strong effort in limited snaps from Ivory will change things.

Santonio Holmes saw his snap count increase against New England. He is playing most snaps now, but he still looks like he is struggling to move well recovering from his injury. Stephen Hill is also seeing the majority of snaps at receiver. The return of Jeremy Kerley will mercifully reduce Clyde Gates' playing time.

At tight end, Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow II are splitting time. Cumberland hasn't been much of a factor. Winslow doesn't look like a big time playmaker, but Geno seems to view him as a security valve.

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