Well, we said that the Buffalo Bills had to play a cleaner game against the New York Jets this week than they did the week before against the Green Bay Packers if they wanted to leave New Jersey with a victory. After racing out to a 14-3 lead in the first half, it looked like that might happen. However, a dismal second half, soft run defense, and bad turnovers kept the Jets in the game, and they ultimately capitalized, winning 20-17 to pull within half a game of the Bills in the AFC East standings.
Buffalo has some work to do after dropping their second divisional game of the year, and there may be some pretty large obstacles standing in the way of achieving their ultimate goals after this one. Speaking of those obstacles, let’s talk about how our five players to watch performed this week.
QB Josh Allen
He just didn’t look great throwing the ball this week, and it’s continued a pattern that’s been troubling of late: when he’s targeting wide receiver Stefon Diggs, he’s great. When he’s targeting literally anyone else, the results are subpar. Allen completed 5-of-10 passes thrown to Diggs for a total of 93 yards. When he threw the ball to everyone else, he was 13-of-23 for 112 yards and two interceptions. And those interceptions were both awful ones, as he tossed a floater in the direction of tight end Dawson Knox on the game’s first drive that ended a gift-wrapped scoring opportunity after New York’s kicker slipped on the opening kickoff, giving the Bills excellent starting field position. His second interception came on an atrocious read, as he threw the ball directly to rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner instead of wide receiver Gabe Davis. Allen did most of his damage in this game on the ground, rushing nine times for 86 yards and two touchdowns, including a 36-yard scamper that gave the Bills that 14-3 lead in the second quarter. The Jets were able to pressure him with just four rushers all game long, and he suffered an elbow injury on the game’s final drive that has all of us on edge. Allen and the offense have not played well over the last two games, but those kinds of slumps and lulls happen sometimes. Now, we need good news on the medical front.
RB Nyheim Hines
Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey’s new toy didn’t play much, as Hines saw just four snaps on offense. Allen did try to hit him up the sideline on a wheel route on a 3rd & Long, but the ball sailed just out of the reach of a diving Hines. That ended a drive that led to kicker Tyler Bass hitting a field goal from 51 yards out to end the scoring for Buffalo. Hines returned punts in his Buffalo debut, calling for a fair catch on two and returning one punt for 18 yards. With time and more practice reps in the offense, he’s going to be a difference-maker sooner rather than later.
C Mitch Morse
The good news is that Morse played after popping up on the injury report with an elbow issue. The bad news is that the offensive line as a whole played very poorly, as the Jets’ front four was able to dominate the point of attack right from the opening quarter. Allen was sacked five times and hit eight more times, so it wasn’t a banner day for the offensive line, either. Quinnen Williams had one of those sacks, but there was pressure in Allen’s lap early and often. On the long Allen touchdown run, though, it was fun to watch Morse sprint the length of the field with absolutely no one to block.
CB Kaiir Elam
For the second straight week, the Bills were gashed on the ground, and a lot of that yardage came on the edge against corners who seem hesitant to tackle. Elam, as athletically gifted as he is, does not play like a physical specimen in the run game, and the Jets were able to turn the corner with Michael Carter (12 carries, 76 yards) and, to a lesser extent, James Robinson (13 carries, 48 yards). In coverage, Elam was just a tick slow on too many throws, as Jets quarterback Zach Wilson used a quick-release game to beat the Buffalo zone. Elam had three total tackles on the day. He also left with an ankle injury, but it didn’t appear to be something that would bother him long-term.
S Jaquan Johnson
I know, I know... we originally had Jordan Poyer, but the All-Pro sat with an injured elbow this week. In the original writeup, I assumed that it would be Dean Marlowe starting if Poyer were out. Instead, it was Johnson...and for the second time in as many starts, he was a clear weak link in a game the Bills ultimately lost. Against the Miami Dolphins, Johnson was burned deep to set up Miami’s go-ahead touchdown. This week, he continually took poor angles in run support, leading to multiple big gains for Jets running backs. I’m okay with never seeing him start again, and if Poyer is still out this week, I’m hoping that it’s Marlowe who starts—and not Johnson, who had 10 total tackles on the day.