The Buffalo Bills opened their 2023 season with a 22-16 overtime loss to the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The Bills managed to find their way to the L column despite Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers playing four snaps before suffering an ankle injury, and despite holding a 10-point halftime lead.
There honestly wasn’t a lot to be learned from this game; there wouldn’t have been had the Bills managed to eke out an ugly win, either. Buffalo had a prime opportunity to pick up an early-season division win on the road against a suddenly and significantly weakened opponent, and quite literally gave that opportunity back to the Jets on a silver platter in the form of four Josh Allen turnovers and the game-winning punt return in the extra frame. New York’s offense was largely listless with Zach Wilson under center, but Allen’s charity injected some life into the opposition, and yielded a come-from-behind win for the guys in green.
Which leads us not to some huge revelation about everything that transpired tonight, but a re-affirmation of something that has become increasingly apparent over the past calendar year, and particularly in the last two games the Bills have played.
Buffalo’s margin for error is too thin to endure shitty quarterback play
The Jets are a legitimately good football team even without Rodgers, spearheaded by their enviable defensive unit. Buffalo has now lost two straight road games to the Jets, Wilson, and that defense, so there’s really no point beating around that bush.
Miami has the most explosive offense in the NFL, and gave the Bills a serious run in the playoffs last January despite fielding their third-string quarterback.
Oh, and 90% of the great teams in the NFL play in the AFC. (Quarterbacks, too.) At some point, the guy under center needs to realize that he can’t keep playing this way and expect things to continue to work in his team’s favor, as it did for key moments in the 2022 regular season.
Take nothing away from the Jets’ defensive prowess or effort; they have had Allen’s number for a year-plus at this point. They are clearly very good to any human with eyes, and playing well against them is going to be a struggle for just about anyone in the league.
The issue here is, quite simply, how unnecessary Allen’s turnover spree was. A 10-point halftime lead against a Wilson-led offense should be unassailable if your defense is even moderately competent — and other than a few sprung leaks against the run, Buffalo’s defense had been playing quite well. But then the turnovers snowballed, and when a couple of lousy field goals may very well have put the game on ice, the other thing happened instead.
Allen is certainly not the sole issue with the Bills, in general or on this evening in particular. There will be time and effort spent on those other concerns. But 17 continues to struggle to read the room; hero ball was not needed to win this game, and yet it was attempted, with catastrophic results.
In his last two games, including their season-ending, 27-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the playoffs last winter, Allen has completed 54-of-83 passes for 500 yards (6.02 yards per attempt) with one touchdown, five turnovers, and a quarterback rating of 65.3. The Bills have scored a combined 26 points in those games, both losses, and we as fans are simply left to hope that this version of Allen is not the new normal.
The first chance to start figuring it out comes this coming Sunday in the team’s home opener against the Las Vegas Raiders.