In the last installment of the offensive line review, I made the stunningly insightful prediction (of the "paying taxes will suck" variety) that the Buffalo Bills would face a much more aggressive defensive scheme against the New York Jets than they did against New England. The blindingly obvious was indeed borne out. Combined, Miami, Green Bay and New England had blitzed Buffalo a total of 23 times over the course of three games. New Jersey, on the other hand, sent more than four rushers on 21 of 36 (58.3%) pass plays. In a display of utter classlessness (spell check insists that's an actual word), the Jets blitzed on five of the final six offensive plays, when there was no possible way for Buffalo to close the gap on the scoreboard.
It's tough to say much about Buffalo's last run game to feature Marshawn Lynch because, well, Chan Gailey basically abandoned the run. (I'd argue that in doing so Gailey also abandoned the possibility of winning the game.) Buffalo attempted a paltry 11 runs, so few that New Jersey only bothered to stack the box once. Perhaps this is a harbinger of things to come, and is the rationale for shipping Lynch off to the Pacific Northwest. Why have running backs if the game plan doesn't involve running the ball?
|Run Direction Success, Week 4|
|Run Direction Success, 2010 season-to-date|
The Bills continued to shuffle in Kraig Urbik and Cordaro Howard, though this time not until the game was well out of reach. It was interesting to note that Urbik came in for Eric Wood while Andy Levitre remained in for the entire game. It has been suggested that Gailey wants to get Urbik on the field due to his size and strength. The conventional wisdom is that Wood will slide over to center (sending Geoff Hangartner to the bench), but if that's the case, why hasn't Wood yet stolen any game reps from Hangartner?
|Individual Run Grades - Week 4|
|Individual Run Grades - 2010 season-to-date|
I wouldn't get too exorcised about the grades for the Jets game. There just weren't enough run plays to draw any real conclusions. Demetrius Bell didn't have a great game and Levitre had a very good game, but neither saw much movement in their season grades. At this point in the season, that's just really, really sad. Four games in, a good or bad game should move a guy several percentage points, but 11 runs just can't create anything more than a ripple. Let's hope that Gailey remains committed to running the ball against the Jags.
|Individual Pass Grades, Week 4
|Individual Pass Grades, 2010 season-to-date|
The line actually graded out better on passing downs than I had suspected when I watched the game live. The rushes (whether blitzes or not) were creative and often overloaded one side of the line or the other. The linemen did their jobs, though at times the defender a lineman had planned to block dropped into coverage instead of rushing. The result was that backs or tight ends had to pick up a defender. What struck me as I watched (and re-watched) each and every pass play was that the quality of the individual rushers was mediocre. Instead, it was the scheme that generated pressure. At one point, I had a vision sure to cause Kurupt to vomit uncontrollably - Chris Kelsay would have looked downright competent in a Jets uniform. This led to the obvious question: why isn't Buffalo incorporating (i.e. stealing) some of the same rush looks into their own defensive game plan?
On those 21 blitzes, Ryan Fitzpatrick responded with only six first downs, 106 yards and a pair of touchdown passes (TDs count as first downs for some strange reason, by the way). That's an average of five yards per blitz. With that sort of result, why not employ a heavy blitzing scheme? In a copy cat league, you can bet that the Jags have noticed that Fitzpatrick doesn't do well against the blitz. Even though the Jags haven't been renowned as a blitzing team, Jacksonville may just turn up the heat on Sunday.