The Buffalo Bills gave the New York Jets their first win in six weeks this past Sunday. How did that happen? Well, it wasn’t the offense’s fault. They gained 368 yards, their sixth-highest total under McDermott. The Bills’ defense did well too, holding the Jets to under 200 yards passing and under 100 yards rushing. Those three things usually add up to a win. Since 2013, teams that put up over 350 yards, give up under 200 yards through the air, and under 100 yards on the ground have .860 winning percentage. What we’re left with as the deciding factor, then, is the third phase of the game—special teams.
The #Bills out-gained the #Jets by 120 yards, had nine more first downs, and only one more turnover. How did the Jets manage to beat the Bills? Starting field position is the answer. #BuffaloBills#BillsMafia#NFL pic.twitter.com/amL1xVqGhQ— Buffalo Rumblings (@BuffRumblings) December 11, 2018
The Jets’ kick returner Andre Roberts had himself a day. He totaled 176 yards on five returns for an average of 35.2 yards per return. That is the fifth-highest return yards and the 12th-highest yards per return in an NFL game this season. (Through Sunday.) The result of this great day for Roberts was an incredible head start for the Jets. On their ten meaningful possessions (excluding their final, victory formation possession), the Jets had an average starting field position of 46.22. For comparison, the Bills had an average starting field position of 27.18. For further comparison, through Week 13 the New Orleans Saints led the league with an average starting field position of 31.66. The Jets started their drives, on average, 19.04 yards further up field than the Bills.
Yes, turnovers did lend a hand in increasing the Jets’ average starting field position, but the Bills also had two turnovers of their own and the difference was still that great. If we remove turnover-started drives from each team, the discrepancy actually gets worse, widening to 19.86 yards.
When you’re letting a rookie quarterback play through his development, your team has to excel in all other aspects of the game. The defense is doing its job and has become a top-ten unit in the league. Special teams, on the other hand, has let the team down in consecutive weeks and ranks near the bottom of the league.