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Top 4 reasons how the Jets saved their season in Buffalo

Sep 15, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) looks to make a pass during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. The Jets beat the Bills 37 to 31. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 15, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) looks to make a pass during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. The Jets beat the Bills 37 to 31. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Jets effectively saved their season in Buffalo with their first win of the season. Gang Green took care of business and proved they are a legitimate up-and-coming powerhouse.

new york jets
new york jets

Sep 15, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) looks to make a pass during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. The Jets beat the Bills 37 to 31. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets are always a difficult team to write about — always capable of grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory. But unlike other games, Gang Green rose to the occasion and made the plays when they counted.

Related Story: Will the Jets cost Rex Ryan his job with Buffalo Bills?

Week 1 provided a 23-22 mind-numbing meltdown at MetLife Stadium against Andy Dalton’s Cincinnati Bengals that left this team reeling.  With a short week on the road in their regular burial spot in upstate Buffalo’s New Era Field, and on the night the Bills retired Bruce Smith’s “78” jersey, the Jets did all they could to prevent a 0-2 start.  They had to keep their young promising season alive, going into the franchise’s toughest four-game-stretch in recent memory.

Sure, the team came out playing tight and tense, and for much of the contest looked like those same old Jets.  Early in the third quarter, Thursday night in Buffalo looked like more of the same until rifleman Ryan Fitzpatrick’s strong right arm delivered with 370 passing yards. He once again proved himself as the Jets’ undisputed locker room leader. Head coach Todd Bowles and his coaching staff did an impressive job of adjustment.

In many ways, this game should not have been as close as the 37-31 outcome, thanks to a litany of ugly Jets miscues and an almost unforgivably easy late drive for Tyrod Taylor’s motley crew. The Bills are a chaotic team going nowhere fast.  After the game, they fired their offensive coordinator Greg Roman and replaced him with former Jets’ assistant Anthony Lynn.

This  team showed tremendous potential playing on the shores of Lake Erie.  But if the New York Jets are really gonna compete with the New England Patriots, they need to always bring that tough playoff mentality to the field, with an unrelenting attention to detail, and to making zero mistakes from this day forward.

Next: 4. Caught In A Mosh

4. Caught In A Mosh

The defense gave up way too many big plays, be it to Olympic-level sprinter Marquise Goodwin or former Jets’ benchwarmer Greg Salas. Plus don’t forget the notorious former Eagle LeSean “Shady” McCoy.

The defensive line again played solid, and the linebackers were decent.  But even Bowles admitted from the post-game podium that if this team has plans to compete in the postseason, the back-end of the defense must be addressed immediately.

A frighteningly average Darrelle Revis has gotten torched so early and often that the best cornerback on this team may just be unsung 2014 undrafted free agent Marcus Williams (no disrespect to some nice defensive stops by Buster Skrine).  But let’s make the painful admission —at least for the time being, Revis Island is closed for business.

Rontez Miles, who gave up that monster 71-yard touchdown bomb to Greg Salas in his only snap count, and Marcus Gilchrist, who played the entire game, each earned themselves bottles of Coppertone for getting burned so badly.

Muhammad Wilkerson, Leonard Williams, and David Harris all look unstoppable.  First-round pick Darron Lee already looks like a special player.  But the brain lock of outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin — in an incredibly underwhelming sophomore season — jumping offside on a 3rd and 6 in the mid 4th quarter could’ve killed the game, were it not for a ferocious 4th down stand that may help define the season.  Sheldon Richardson seems like he finally read the shape-up-or-ship-out memo, and responded with a monster game, most notably that incredible 4th-and-1 stop that left McCoy less than three inches short of the first down marker.

The Jets haven’t gotten a lick out of third-round pick and projected starting outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins ever since an August 22 training camp calf injury.  Starting inside linebacker Erin Henderson’s foot injury in Buffalo must be surely worrying the organization — with ten days to rest before next Sunday’s touch road game in Kansas City against a Chiefs team that rarely loses at home.

Next: 3. Repentless

new york jets
new york jets

Sep 15, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) runs after a catch and breaks a tackle by Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore (24) during the first quarter at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

3. Repentless

The offense hit on all cylinders, thanks to a perfectly designed game plan by offensive mastermind Chan Gailey.  The former Bills’ head coach with something to prove displayed a cunning combination sticking to his game plan, yet skillfully adapting those plans on the fly.

But on the downside, here’s one suggestion for the OC: maybe ya wanna scuttle all those shuttle passes?  Or at least wait until you figure out how to get Bilal Powell into the flow?  Powell perfectly fits that CJ Spiller role that Chan so effectively exploited in Buffalo.

We can see that it will be difficult for Gailey to engage Powell in more than 23% of the snap counts. That’s because on and off the field, running back Matt Forte has shown himself the consummate pro — strong at all aspects of the game. The 30-year-old workhorse is proving Father Time wrong with nearly 200 rushing yards and 300 yards of total offense.  He might just be the most impressive Jets’ rusher since Curtis Martin or Thomas Jones.

Sure, Rex and Rob Ryan overexerted their Bills’ thin pass rush and left their cornerbacks exposed one-on-one all night long.  But the Jets’ Harvard heart-throb quarterback, who’d lost eight of nine games to Rex-coached teams, just unleashed his finest 60-minute performance in the former Ralph Wilson Stadium, where he started under Gailey for four lost seasons.

Brandon Marshall fought through the pain and returned to the game after what looked like a frightening knee injury.  He has proven himself a true leader, with his frustrating compliment of mind-boggling catches and doozy drops.  In the end, Brandon came through big-time — no play more decisive than his hands-team grab of Dan Carpenter’s attempted late-game onside kickoff with less than 90 seconds remaining.

Eric Decker continues to prove himself the most underrated elite-level receiver in the league.  Quincy Enunwa is a rising star; #81 delivered yet another excellent game of tough receptions, with a few key opening-drive third-down nabs. Undrafted free agent Jalin Marshall, despite a costly first-half fumble, is a heady baller ready for the spotlight.

Another factor cannot be overlooked: Gang Green scored 28 points in the red zone.  That’s a rare feat for this beleaguered franchise, who hasn’t sniffed the Super Bowl since the Joe Namath days.

Next: 2. Hold The Line

Sep 1, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles on the sidelines during the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 1, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles on the sidelines during the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 1, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles on the sidelines during the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

2. Hold The Line

A few words on the offensive line play, who did a stand-up job of leveling everything Rex and Rob Ryan threw at them – even stunts by former Jets’ defensive end Leger Douzable!

Tight ends Kellen Davis and Brandon Bostick are the team’s best linemen not named Nick Mangold or Ryan Clady — the latter playing so competently that no one is clamoring for the return of D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

Ben Ijalana and Brent Qvale continue to fill in admirably for injured tackle Breno Giacomini, though the line played a tad bit smoother with Jersey kid Big Ben on the line of scrimmage.

Left guard Brian Winters has proven the critics wrong with solid games against some imposing competitors.  Right guard James Carpenter’s second-quarter calf injury was not the game-changing scenario that it could have been, thanks to some impressive work by stand-in Wesley Johnson.

After the game, former Jets’ quarterback and SNY host Ray Lucas started stumping for the return of long-in-the-tooth lineman from da Bronx, Willie Colon.  But with Johnson stepping in cold, the offense did not miss a beat, and in terms of the game plan, may have improved things a bit.

Next: 1. Kick In The Eye

jets vs bills
jets vs bills

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

1. Kick In The Eye

The Jets’ special teams remain a source of concern.  The team felt great about their animated new special teams coach Brant Boyer, and the players charging downfield are an inarguable upgrade.  But that unit played some very flat and uninspired football against a Bills team ripe for the taking.

Nick Folk, after essentially losing the opener against Cincinnati with a missed field goal and point after touchdown, performed marginally better in Buffalo.  But after an impressive array of three-pointers, his late-game kickoff returned to midfield, could have cost the game.

Jalin Marshall plays as if he’s about to bust a kickoff or punt return long and go all the way.  But will have to wait for another day.  In the meantime, the rookie has muffed no returns to date, which already makes him an upgrade over fellow Buckeye receiver/returner Devin Smith.

The team’s most game-ready rookie may sixth-round punter Lachlan Edwards.  The Australian Rules footballer via Sam Houston State kicks with such confidence. His abilities to boot it long, directional or with mega hang-time has been a game-changer for Bowles’  focus on positional play.

Must Read: Jets answer only a few questions in just five days

The Jets have what it takes to make a run in 2016. The offense looked good, but there are some glaring problems to address.  They’ve got a few extra day to clean up the mess.   Feel good Gang Green fans, this is an entirely different team from that of the Rex Ryan era.

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