The Buffalo Bills are 4-7. They're playing under the direction of an interim head coach. A year ago, the Bills were 6-5, and though they had lost four of five and were about to lose three straight and four of their last five, they were in (semi-)serious playoff contention at that point in time. Based on that fact alone, the Bills have clearly regressed from 2008 to 2009.
One clear area of progress, however, has been playing divisional games. Buffalo was swept by the AFC East in 2008, losing two games each to Miami, New England and New York and otherwise ruining a solid 7-3 out-of-conference record. To this point in the regular season, Buffalo is 2-2 in divisional games, registering victories over New York and Miami. Buffalo takes on the Jets this weekend in Toronto looking to sweep our green friends from New Jersey for the second time in three years (Buffalo swept the Jets in 2007).
Joining us this morning is John B from SB Nation's Jets blog, Gang Green Nation. His Q&A with Buffalo Rumblings starts now, and you can see his reciprocating interview here.
What's the latest on the Mark Sanchez knee situation? Will he be hampered at all on Thursday?
I don't think there really is any situation. He left the game briefly on Sunday, but he was back for the next series. Sanchez was wearing a knee brace. He's shown good mobility so maybe it will cut back on that a bit, but he really didn't seem to show any effects from the injury once he got back into the game.
Speaking of Sanchez, I'll get the obligatory status update on him now. Since he threw 5 INT against Buffalo, he's thrown 7 more in 5 games. He's only completing 53% of his passes, and the Jets are 2-6 in their last eight. Obviously the hype has cooled off considerably, but are you still seeing signs of a franchise quarterback?
I think so. The Jets implemented a code system before last week's game, which essentially is the coaching staff giving him guidelines for how acceptable taking a risk on a throw is in a given spot. It worked. His decision making was very good.
There have been games where he's looked like the worst quarterback in the NFL. That's to be expected of a rookie. The good is there have also been games like Miami and Jacksonville where he looked comfortable leading the team back from deficits. He's still a work in progress and needs to protect the ball better. Still, I think back to 2007. At the end of that year, I said to myself that Kellen Clemens hadn't given any indication he was the answer. I won't have the same feeling with Sanchez at the end of the year.
The Jets are obviously leaning heavily on Thomas Jones, as he's carried the ball at least 21 times in each of the team's last six games. Is he wearing down? Should the Jets be using Shonn Greene more?
He's gone over the century mark in 3 of the past 5 games so I don't think he's slowing down. His numbers look pretty good, but it's even more impressive when you consider having a mistake prone rookie quarterback has meant a lot of loaded fronts. Greene has fumbled twice in the past four games so I think Jones will continue to carry a heavy load.
What's your read on just how much the Jets have missed Kris Jenkins? Statistically, the Jets don't appear tangibly worse defending the run.
There are a few factors at play. The Jets have used more four man fronts. Also, his replacement in the starting lineup, Sione Pouha, has done a good job holding the point of attack. They miss Jenkins a lot, though. He's a disruptive force on the defensive line. Opponents always have to worry about him in their blocking schemes. Pouha can tie up blockers. Jenkins consistently beats them and makes plays in the backfield.
Bills fans may not be aware of the situation at safety with Kerry Rhodes and Eric Smith. Mind sharing the Cliff's Notes version of Rhodes' benching and where the team moves from his 2-INT performance against Carolina?
Long story short on Kerry Rhodes: Unheralded fourth round pick from Louisville in 2005. Impressed the coaches enough to start all 16 as a rookie. Broke out in 2006 and 2007 playing at a Pro Bowl level. Got a big contract before 2008. Stopped making impact plays immediately after, although he started talking himself up to the media a lot more. Got burned on a decisive play in a loss to Jacksonville and looked miserable in coverage at New England and shied away from contact in run support. Got benched for Carolina game and had a pair of interceptions.
He won't start this week. The guy who replaced him against the Panthers, Eric Smith, led the team in tackles in that game so Rex Ryan has said he's sticking with Smith. Rex said that Rhodes has earned himself more playing time for the game in Toronto than he had last week, though.