The Buffalo Bills took care of business against the New York Jets on Sunday, winning 27-17 in a game that could have been decidedly worse for Gang Green. Give the Jets credit for hanging in when they could have folded. However, there are no moral victories, and the Jets came away with a big “L” to open the 2020 season.
I read some comments on the “Five Jets to Watch” article expressing surprise about my leaving running back Le’Veon Bell off the list. Frankly, I did so because I wasn’t worried about him, and the Bills proved me right. Bell carried six times for 14 yards, adding two receptions for 32 yards, before leaving the game with a hamstring injury. Buffalo has kept Bell in check now all three times he’s played them as a Jet.
How did the other players from our list perform? Not too well—with one notable exception.
QB Sam Darnold
What a miserable day for the Jets’ quarterback. I almost felt bad for Darnold at points, as his offensive line gave him some time to throw, but his receiving corps just could not find any space in Buffalo’s dense pass defense. Darnold was harried, hit, and forced into poor decisions (the interception he threw to Matt Milano was one of the worst decisions I’ve seen a professional quarterback make). He finished his day 21-of-35 for 215 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. That touchdown was a screen pass that Jamison Crowder broke for a 69-yard gain, so if you remove that one play, Darnold was 20-of-34 for 146 yards. Yikes. Buffalo again clamped down on his outside targets, then flooded the middle with various zone defenders. Combined with a wide array of blitz packages involving different players coming from different angles, Darnold looked confused all day.
WR Jamison Crowder
Another game, another strong day statistically for Crowder, who paced all players with 115 receiving yards and 13 targets. His seven receptions was second only to Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs, who had eight. As we mentioned above, most of Crowder’s yardage came on a screen pass where Tremaine Edmunds missed a tackle and hurt his shoulder in the process. Crowder is a good fantasy football start every time the Jets and the Bills meet.
LT Mekhi Becton
The rookie acquitted himself well enough in his first start, although he did struggle with Jerry Hughes’s speed off the edge at times. Becton was called for a holding penalty, and it looked like the Jets called in some help to chip Hughes and Mario Addison—who notched his first sack as a Buffalo Bills player on Sunday, but overall, Becton showed the athleticism and strength that made the Jets so keen on drafting him this spring.
DL Henry Anderson
Well, the Jets were called for two roughing the passer penalties, and neither was on Anderson...so perhaps that’s a step in the right direction. My favorite moment of the game was when Bills quarterback Josh Allen had a walk-in touchdown, he seemed to taunt Anderson a bit on his way in by pretending to flick the ball in his direction. Normally, I wouldn’t endorse such things, but when it’s in the direction of someone who deserves it, I can laugh a bit. Anderson played 32 snaps and had three tackles, and he was part of a Jets front that did a great job containing Buffalo’s run game throughout the afternoon.
CB Pierre Desir
The veteran played so poorly in the first half that he was relegated to the bench for much of the second half. He managed to play only 35 snaps and was second on the team in tackles with six, which is never a good sign for a corner. Stefon Diggs and John Brown were wide open all day, and they burned Desir badly enough that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams decided to go with Nate Hairston at corner instead. The Jets’ secondary was a known point of weakness entering the game, and Buffalo exploited it with an up-tempo spread offense throughout the afternoon.