1) Rex Ryan and Marty Mornhinweg were out coached – When you play a team a second time especially after you embarrass them putting up 513 yards of offense they are going to make adjustments. When you sack their quarterback eight times and dominate defensively they will make adjustments. Nathaniel Hackett and Mike Pettine made adjustments and Rex Ryan and Marty Mornhinweg were not prepared for them. On offense EJ Manuel was flawless finishing 20-28 for 245 yards and 2 touchdowns. In the first half without their top 2 wide receivers the Jets blitzed and played off the wide receivers which wasn’t a good combination as Manuel was able to make quick throws to open receivers. The touchdown throw in the 1st half was a ball flung up for grabs by Manuel on a 3rd down that Milliner had good coverage on Graham but Milliner turned the wrong way and Graham saw it was an underthrow and made the adjustment for the touchdown. In the second half the Jets pressed the Bills receivers and Buffalo adjusted by throwing deep with Graham beating Milliner for 40 yards followed by Goodwin beating Cromartie for 43 yards and a touchdown. For those wondering on the Milliner throw Dawan Landry was the deep safety that came into the picture late and on the Cromartie one Reed was helping Milliner on the other side of the field. Defensively Buffalo took away the Jets run game and blitzed Geno Smith like crazy and the more they hit Smith the more he locked on to his receivers and turnovers followed. The Bills held the Jets to 3 yards per carry without the late 69 yard run by Ivory included which left the Jets in 2nd and 3rd and long situations. Buffalo sacked Smith 4 times, pressured him at least 9 times and hit him 8 times. Mornhinweg had no answer he had relied on the offensive line winning the battles in the trenches.
2) The team was overconfident and paid for it – As David Nelson said after the game the team remains inconsistent because of a lack of maturity. The Jets have a ton of young players on both sides of the ball but they need leaders to step up among them. On defense it was thought that Demario Davis, David Harris, Muhammad Wilkerson and Antonio Cromartie were the leaders but whatever they are doing isn’t working because they are dominating one week then getting picked apart the next. On offense Geno Smith and the offensive line have been up and down as well. Veterans like Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson along with Smith himself need to be the ones to right the ship. These leaders need to be able to tell the players every week to not believe the headlines or the hype to stay focused and be professional every week. There is only so much the coaching staff can do to motivate the team, the leaders need to do the rest.
3) No pass rush and poor corner play together are a big problem - As was opined on Twitter after the game today that as the defensive line goes so goes the defense. If they are blocked and ineffective then the secondary will be picked apart. If they get pressure and sacks that helps the secondary attack more and the defense moves towards being elite. Today the Jets had no pass rush. The 1 sack they recorded was a gift because Manuel was scrambling anyway and Pace pushed him out a 1/2 yard behind the scrimmage. They registered 4 quarterback hits but they were not impactful for the most part. Antonio Allen got beaten more than a few times covering Hogan or Chandler, Harris got burnt by Chandler for 31 yards, Cromartie played a bit better but once again allowed a long touchdown pass against him. Milliner got beat twice on long throws the first was good coverage with a technique flaw at the end that had him lose sight of the ball and fail to make the key adjustment, while the 2nd touchdown he did not have the closing speed to catch up with Graham.
4) Remembering what the expectations were/are – When the season started most everyone thought this was a rebuilding year and the team would win 4-8 games tops. It was about evaluating and developing the young players as well as the coaching staff. It was a team Frankensteined together without a lot of cap space that had talent but also a lot of holes. At 5-4 going into the bye everyone, myself included, began to get a bit carried away and raise the expectation level to the point where a lack of a playoff appearance would be a disappointment. Slow down. This team still has a rookie quarterback that has been more down than up this year, a left guard that is not competent, and a very inconsistent secondary. If they come back and beat Baltimore then make a run like 2009 that is great but the most important thing remains to evaluate and develop the young players. Let’s not forget that.