This Sunday the Jets play a critical divisional game against the Buffalo Bills. With a very tough schedule ahead it would be very difficult to be 1-2 with two divisional losses. This week is also filled with subplots. Mike Pettine attemping to match wits with his former mentor Rex Ryan as well as Bills coach Doug Marrone facing off once again against Geno Smith. Marrone’s Syracuse teams played Smith’s West Virginia Mountaneers three times during Smith’s tenure there.
Marrone’s Syracuse teams gave Geno Smith the most trouble of any team he faced in college. According to Rich Cimini’s Jets Blog today Smith was 0-3 against Syracuse and 26-10 against the rest of the country. Smith also had 5 touchdowns and 5 interceptions and was sacked 12 times over the three games. Smith had 98 touchdowns and 21 interceptions during his college career. According to Cimini, a person close to the Syracuse program said that Smith “had trouble with our pressure”.
Mike Pettine is a Rex Ryan disciple and rolls out a slightly more conservative version of the hybrid defense we have grown to love here in New York. Lots of confusing, exotic looks and tons of pressure are hallmarks of this defense. Buffalo has a star pass rusher in Mario Williams and some nice secondary rushers. Smith has yet to show that he can consistently handle this kind of pressure without turning the ball over. The good thing is he sees this defense in practice each day the bad thing is he won’t be wearing the red non-contact jersey.
How do you avoid the pressure? Run the ball and keep running it until they stop it. The Bills are currently 30th in the league in rushing yards allowed at 141.5 yards per game. In the past under Rex Ryan the Jets have gone 6-2 against Buffalo rushing for 125.1 yards per game in 2012, 132 yards per game in 2011, 274.5 yards per game in 2010 and 283.5 yards per game in 2009. Marty Mornhinweg is a throw first offensive coordinator but he is also someone who takes advantage of matchups. The matchups say to run the ball. Running the ball sets up play-action passes making it easier for Smith to have extra time and more open receivers as well as avoiding 3rd and long situations where the pressure is ratcheted up with mistakes more likely.
I think the Jets will win on Sunday. They will control the line of scrimmage, run the ball with a heavy dose of Chris Ivory & Bilal Powell, throw screens to keep the Bills off-balance and let the defense do it’s job. Sometimes simple is the best way to go.