The Buffalo Bills beat the New York Jets on Sunday in an ugly 18-10 affair that was far closer than it needed to be. Poor execution, sloppy penalties, and a forgettable first half turned this game into a nail-biter against an otherwise putrid opponent. That’s why they play the games, I suppose, but through the first 30 minutes or so of this one, I was wishing it hadn’t been played at all.
The Bills did eventually right the ship, turning in a dominant defensive performance in the second half on the way to victory. How did our players to watch perform? It was a mixed bag.
QB Josh Allen
Allen looked poised and comfortable the whole day, calmly scanning the field and taking what the Jets gave him defensively. Rather than force the ball to Stefon Diggs like he did the last time John Brown was out, he looked for Cole Beasley early and often. That was a nice adjustment, as the veteran slot receiver had a career day, totaling 11 receptions for 112 yards on 12 targets. On the season, Beasley now has 39 catches for 470 yards and two touchdowns. He is second to Diggs in all of those categories, as well as targets (49 to Diggs’s 70). With Allen taking the underneath stuff all day, the Bills were able to move the ball easily between the 20s. When Buffalo entered the red zone, however, the Jets clamped down. Allen did a great job not forcing the ball. Without much of a running game, teams are able to play coverage on the Bills in the red zone, flooding the end zone with defenders in various zone concepts. Since Allen is Buffalo’s most dangerous runner, this serves two purposes—teams can prevent Allen from finding open receivers, but they also can keep their eye on him to ensure that he doesn’t run the ball. Allen was the game’s leading rusher, totaling 61 yards on 11 carries. He topped his old teammate, Frank Gore, by one yard on the day. Allen did lose a fumble (more on that later), and he also had a touchdown pass wiped off the board on an illegal formation penalty. Allen completed 30-of-43 passes for 307 yards in another strong showing.
RT Daryl Williams
Well, so much for moving him inside. Williams stayed at his best position, right tackle, and the Bills trusted Ike Boettger at guard. The line held up well all afternoon, as Allen had plenty of time to throw. When they finally decided to call a few running plays, the line even opened up some holes for Zack Moss and Devin Singletary to run through, as the backs totaled 76 yards on 15 carries. Williams had one horrendous rep, and it cost the Bills early, as he turned into a human turnstile on a third-down pass rush by Tarell Basham, who forced Josh Allen to fumble at the Jets’ 22-yard line. Overall, though, Williams continued his solid play.
DT Justin Zimmer
For the first time this year, Zimmer played and did not register on the stat sheet in any way. He rotated in as the fourth defensive tackle, seeing the field for 19 defensive snaps. Zimmer was part of a unit that absolutely wrecked the Jets in the second half, as New York netted -6 total yards in the game’s final 30 minutes. Zimmer’s inspired play has rubbed off on his teammates, as Sunday may have been Ed Oliver’s best game of the season. He looked angry all afternoon. Zimmer has surpassed former third-round pick Harrison Phillips on the depth chart at this point, and with good reason. The former undrafted free agent has played hard-nosed ball all year.
LB A.J. Klein
I’ve been hard on Klein, but watching him play Sunday was a positive. He seemed more comfortable in his role this week and he made plays when he had to make them. Klein led the team in tackles with six, and he also notched half a sack and a quarterback hit on the day. With Matt Milano working his way back into the rotation, appearing on just 19 snaps this past week, it was Klein who slotted in as the LB2 along with Tremaine Edmunds. I imagine that won’t be the case next week against the New England Patriots, but it was nice to see Klein play better.
CB Taron Johnson
Speaking of playing better, it seems that Cam Lewis starting last week made Taron Johnson well aware of the precarious nature of his job security. Johnson had been horrendous coming into Sunday, and he looked pretty good this week. Granted, the Jets were without Jamison Crowder, who has eaten Johnson’s lunch over the last two seasons, but Johnson stopped the players that came his way on Sunday. Johnson had two tackles and a pass breakup—his second of the season—and he managed to pressure Sam Darnold on a couple of blitzes off the edge, as well.