The Bills and Jets are on opposite sides of the coin when it comes to handling young quarterbacks; EJ Manuel was benched for Kyle Orton, while Geno Smith remains in the lineup ahead of Michael Vick. How are Jets fans feeling about the team's commitment to Smith?
Butchko: There are still holdouts, but as the season has progressed more and more Jets fans have come to the realization Geno Smith is probably not going to be the quarterback to lead this team to the promised land. His play has stabilized a bit the last two weeks, but it is not pretty in general. His mechanics, accuracy, and decision making have been dreadful. There hasn't been a ton of improvement. When he is off he might be the worst quarterback in the league. When he is on he is adequate. That isn't a good combo.
As far as sticking with Smith goes, the Jets probably missed their chance to make a change to Vick. At 1-2 or 1-3 maybe Vick could have turned things around. It's too late by this point. It creates an interesting dynamic. Smith kind of firms up his own spot as starting quarterback with each poor performance. Every time the Jets lose, they fall further out of the race and it makes less sense to turn to the veteran rather than hope against hope the young guy can turn things around.
So far this season, there has been a roughly 60/40 split between Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson in the backfield. Ivory is coming off a great game against New England. Is he the tailback that the Bills should be game planning to stop?
Butchko: Ivory is the more dangerous of the two at this point. Chris Johnson shows flashes of the All Pro he used to be, but they tend to be fleeting. Jets fans were hoping his decline in recent years could be remedied by keeping him fresh. It hasn't worked out. Ivory runs with more authority, and he has a better second gear.
The problem the Jets have is that Ivory is quite poor in the passing game as both a receiver and a blocker. They have to keep him out there, though, because they have to show the defense they can credibly throw it with Ivory on the field. Otherwise they'd telegraph run, and it would become easier to stop.
How do you imagine that the arrival of Percy Harvin will impact the roles of other skill players on offense? I'm thinking specifically of Jeremy Kerley, who seems to have the most role overlap with a player like Harvin.
Butchko: I think Havin will impact a number of players. Kerley will move out of the slot at times. He'll stay on the field in three receiver sets, though, because there isn't really a ton of doubt he's one of the top three receivers on the team. Harvin's arrival might also mean less time for Jeff Cumberland. We'll see more three receiver formations and less double tight ends. I think Johnson's role will also change. The Jets will probably give Harvin some of his outside runs. Johnson will play more of a traditional backup role spelling Ivory.
The Jets seem to have altered their coverage philosophy this season, using more off coverage with safety help than in previous seasons, when Revis and Cromartie were manning the corners. How have Jets opponents best fared attacking through the air so far this season?
Butchko: Not very well. They rank 20th in yards allowed per attempt. They've allowed the second highest opposing quarterback rating, and nobody has allowed more passing touchdowns. It's what you might expect running out corners like Darrin Walls and Phillip Adams. Things have gotten so desperate that the Jets have played Antonio Allen, a run stopping safety who was a converted linebacker, at corner for the first time in his life. Also consider the Jets have arguably the best defensive line in the league. Imagine how bad things would be if they couldn't generate pressure.
Knowing that the Jets and Rex Ryan typically generate pressure via well-designed blitzes, in terms of 1-on-1 pass rushing prowess, who is the Jets pass rusher that Buffalo's overwhelmed offensive line will likely be game planning to stop first?
Butchko: I think Muhammad Wilkerson. He can line up anywhere and win his battle. You can put him over the ball on passing downs or at end in a 4-3 look. It's tough to design a blocking scheme around stopping him when you never know where he will line up. He has a variety of moves he utilizes. Second year lineman Sheldon Richardson also has improved as a pass rusher. The defensive line is about the one place the Jets seem to have a solid foundation.
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