Jets vs Bills: Top 3 keys to victory for Gang Green

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) runs with the ball as Buffalo Bills strong safety Bacarri Rambo (30) pursues during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Jets 22-17. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) runs with the ball as Buffalo Bills strong safety Bacarri Rambo (30) pursues during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Jets 22-17. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /

For tonight’s Jets vs Bills Week 2 matchup on Thursday Night Football, here are the top three keys to victory for Gang Green to leave this game victorious.

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) runs with the ball as Buffalo Bills strong safety Bacarri Rambo (30) pursues during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Jets 22-17. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets vs Bills game will kick things off in Week 2 with a Thursday night matchup that should be thrilling. Gang Green is fresh off a frustrating loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at home while Rex Ryan’s group put up a 7-point dud in Baltimore. A 0-2 start wouldn’t be ideal for either team as both were in the NFL Playoff race deep into the 2015 season. With that being said, you can expect plenty of theater at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

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It’s safe to say Cincinnati came into the Meadowlands and stole a game which the Jets had in hand. Bengals’ wideout A.J. Green had himself a field day and kicker Nick Folk had a 22-yarder blocked as well as a missed extra point. In a loss like that, it’s hard to overlook his struggles and the inability to contain Green because there weren’t many things they did wrong. Nonetheless, this is something that shouldn’t happen again as New York has little room for error given their difficult schedule ahead.

Buffalo, on the other hand, has some work to do, specifically on the offensive side of the football.

The Bills had just 160 yards of offense and converted just three of their 13 third down attempts. The Ravens are a crippled team and falling to them by a score of 13-7 certainly, kills your confidence. Similar to the Jets, Buffalo has a brutal stretch of outings to begin their 2016 campaign. A rocky start can derail the Rex Ryan train, so tonight we’ll find out how much longer it stay on the tracks.

If New York were to start 0-2, the sad truth is that the sky would be falling down way too soon. You never want to look ahead, but road games at Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Arizona loom. Don’t forget about the Week 4 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks either. The ice has officially become thin and a loss in Orchard Park can be catastrophic. Here are the top three keys the Jets have to do to avoid a disastrous start to the new year.

Next: 3. Attack cornerback Ronald Darby

Sep 11, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Chris Moore (10) carries the ball as Buffalo Bills cornerback Ronald Darby (28) defends during the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens won 13-7. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

3. Attack Ronald Darby

Bills’ cornerback Ronald Darby is by no means a bad player, although he’s a guy who’s without a doubt frustrated. In the third quarter of Sunday’s game against the Ravens, he dropped what would’ve been a pick-six to tie things up at 13. According to Ryan, Darby almost got into a scuffle during a team walkthrough earlier in the week. While he might appreciate his competitiveness, frustration branching off to other guys probably isn’t what Buffalo is looking for at the moment.

Another reason why the Jets should pick on him is because of the emergence of cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Quarterbacks threw his way often in his first few years, however, the South Carolina product has come along nicely since his bumpy beginning. In Week 1, Pro Football Focus gave him the third-highest grade on the team (79.7). Baltimore’s receivers aren’t easy to cover given their speed, so you have to credit him a bit there. Even though none of them are Brandon Marshall-caliber, Gang Green should steer away from Gilmore just a tad.

The Jets should ultimately throw to whichever receiver Darby is covering.

Ryan likes to switch things up in the secondary and utilize different corners on different wideouts. As a result, Gilmore won’t be glued to Marshall and Darby won’t be glued to Decker. New York’s All-Pro receiver will have a number of opportunities to bounce back from a disappointing season opener in which he totaled only three catches for 32 yards. If they get in Darby’s head early, the passing attack can be lethal all night.

Next: 2. Utilize both running backs

Sep 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Matt Forte (22) runs the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

2. Utilize both running backs

Right off the bat, running back Matt Forte showcased what he can do under offensive coordinator Chan Gailey rushing for 96 yards on 22 carries and catching five passes for 59 yards. You can even say he looks like an upgrade over Chris Ivory. His success is hard to ignore, but it shouldn’t limit the number of snaps Bilal Powell deserves. The 27-year-old proved he should be more involved in the offense by totaling 313 rushing yards and a touchdown along with 388 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 11 games in 2015.

Six touches for Powell in Week 1 isn’t enough, especially with how reliable he is in the red zone.

Forte was playing great and the Jets had to throw a lot in the fourth quarter, although he needs to be used more considering how meaningful he was to the team’s late-season surge last year. The one contest he missed during that stretch was the finale. Gang Green, of course, left West New York that day with a loss falling short of the postseason yet again.

For the Jets to move the ball effectively tonight, both backs must be used. The Ravens controlled the clock against the Bills splitting touches between Justin Forsett and Terrance West. They only racked up a combined 73 yards on 22 carries, however, it allowed quarterback Joe Flacco to make an impact through the air with 258 yards and a long touchdown to wide receiver Mike Wallace. When you make the defense load the box, it obviously opens up the pass. New York has the opportunity to take advantage of this in Week 2.

Next: 1. Don't give up the big play

Sep 11, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) attempts to throw the ball in front of Baltimore Ravens linebacker CJ Mosley (57) during the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports’

1. Don’t give up the big play

As we saw in the opener, cornerback Darrelle Revis was absolutely humiliated by Green. When Revis was in primary coverage, the standout receiver caught all eight of his targets for 100 yards. Those numbers don’t include the 54-yard touchdown bomb because safety help was expected. The Jets’ star corner didn’t show up, but this does fall on head coach Todd Bowles too. The coach has to adjust when things aren’t working and with how it looks right now, he might need safety help more often.

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins is a speedster who has given New York trouble in the past.

Luckily for them, he’s dealing with a foot injury that’ll without a doubt hold him back if he suits up. He’s currently listed as questionable, making there no excuses if a less than 100% Watkins beats the defense over the top. This means quarterback Tyrod Taylor and running back LeSean McCoy are the two guys the Jets need to focus heavily on. Taylor had just 111 yards passing and 11 yards rushing while ‘Shady’ ran for 58 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

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All the Jets need to do is keep both of them between the tackles and prevent the big play. Taylor isn’t a pocket passer who can do damage with his arm and McCoy isn’t an Adrian Peterson-esque back who blasts up the middle. Load the box and keep the two out of open space. If Baltimore can contain them, then Gang Green should be able to as well. This is where Bowles can keep the wheels on the bus and finally take down the Bills.