Grudgingly, and with the air of discussing something slimy and unpleasant, we're back to talking about Buffalo Bills football today. The Bills, as I'm sure you're well aware, are 1-4, 0-2 in the division, and face the daunting task of facing one of the most physical teams in the league when they take on Rex Ryan's New York Jets this Sunday.
Here to discuss this weekend's game is John B from the ever-improving and excellent Jets blog Gang Green Nation. Make sure you make John's blog your first stop for Jets knowledge; here's his Q&A with us this week, in full.
New York's defense looked fantastic in their first four games, but sprung some leaks against Miami. What did the Dolphins do that worked so well, and can the Jets fix it?
John B: The Dolphins made a lot of tactical moves like using double tight end formations to push the edge out for blitzers, using screens, and rolling Chad Henne out. The most important thing was the way they executed, though. Their offensive line just outplayed the Jets defensive line. They pounded the ball down New York's throats. The Wildcat formation had a ton of success. That's not a formation based on deception. It says, "We're running the ball. Try and stop us." The Jets didn't. Running it successfully takes away the team's strength, the pass rush. Rex Ryan's a pretty bright guy. I'm sure he'll adjust for the second meeting with the Dolphins, but I don't think they necessarily need to fix much this week because there aren't many teams that can run it like the Dolphins.
Talk about your impressions of Braylon Edwards after one game. Did you like the trade when it happened? Or, if you'd rather, how dumb is Eric Mangini?
John B: Edwards has never particularly been my favorite receiver, but he fits every need the Jets had on paper. He's a big target, a guy who can draw consistent double teams to open things up for the other receivers and the run game, and can stretch the field. Considering how the Jets gave up absolutely nothing for him, I don't see how anybody could have been against it even before his big outing against the Dolphins.
I think the Edwards we saw against Miami is going to be the Edwards we'll see the rest of the season. The Jets have not given him a new contract, which means he's going to be motivated. Problem children are usually model citizens at the start of a tenure with a new team to try and show they weren't the problem.
I'm not naive enough to think there aren't risks with Edwards. There's a reason he was available. However, considering the talent there, the low price they paid, and the motivation, I think this was well worth it.
Rex Ryan obviously blitzes a lot, and the pressure has led to largely great results. But through five weeks, the Jets are tied for dead last in the league with just four sacks. Seriously, the Bills have three times as many sacks. Is not finishing the job an issue for the defense?
John B: I think this is an area where stats are overrated. The 2008 Jets had a lot of sacks, but they had a much less fierce pass rush. They either got to the quarterback or generated no pressure. This year's team might not have registered many sacks, but they are consistently getting to the passer and forcing quarterbacks to throw early. Passers haven't been comfortable. I think the end results speak for themselves. Tom Brady put up 9 points and completed under 50% of his passes. Drew Brees put up 10 points. The pass rush has done its job.
I can't not ask you about Mark Sanchez. 56% completions, 183 yards per game, 5 TD, 5 INT, 2 sacks per game. Not bad, but not great, either. Where does Sanchez need to improve first to continue on his path towards emerging as the Jets' franchise quarterback?
John B: He has to protect the football better. He holds it way too loosely exposed to pass rushers, and his 5 interceptions in 5 games are too many. There have also been a lot of potential interceptions defenders have dropped. I counted a pair against Miami. This is the kind of thing you'd expect from a rookie, but this has to improve.
Rex Ryan. He's clearly brought swagger, confidence and aggression to the Jets. He's also found himself the center of some criticism for clock management issues at the end of their MNF loss to Miami. Impressions after five weeks?
John B: Overall I've been very pleased. He's transformed the defense and instilled a new confidence in this team. I think the win against the Pats meant as much for the team's confidence as 3 regular wins. His gameplan had a ton to do with that victory. I know there was the clock issue at the end of the Miami game, but if it takes 5 games to have a beef with your coach, he's probably doing a good job. We do a weekly approval poll on GGN, and it went down to about 75% this week. That means on a bad week, three-quarters of the fans like him. As disappointed as I was with the clock management, he stood up in front of the media on Tuesday and admitted he messed up. Mistakes happen. It seems like he's not going to let the same ones happen twice.
Again, make sure you check out Gang Green Nation for all the info you care to absorb about the Jets in preparation for this weekend's game.