The NY Jets must do these three things to pull off an unlikely victory in Week 7 against the Buffalo Bills.
The NY Jets franchise has been through plenty of dark times in its storied history. The 2020 version is shaping up to be the gloomiest of them all. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “in the midst of darkness, light persists.”
It’s hard for the jaded and demoralized fanbase of the Jets to envision the possibility of better days ahead. The light at the end of the tunnel for the Jets fanbase is the possibility of saviors arriving to save the franchise from its darkest period of failure.
The future sees saviors arriving in the form of a new leader at head coach, and potentially Clemson megastar quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
The trade-off is that for both of those things to happen, the current 0-6 Jets have to stick to the script and lose the rest of their remaining 10 games.
Judging by the performance of the entire team in its first six games. Running the table in reverse shouldn’t be very difficult for a Jets team devoid of talent, direction, or identity.
However, the Jets’ last savior, quarterback Sam Darnold, is set to return this Sunday. Darnold is the Jets’ biggest threat to tanking an entire season.
It’s fitting that the Jets will be wearing all-green on Sunday because The (4-2) Buffalo Bills are the type of team that New York should envy. The Bills are exactly the type of organization that the Jets should aspire to be.
The Bills’ success starts up top with a formidable front office and coaching staff. Buffalo is a franchise that has rebuilt its roster with young elite players on both sides of the ball.
What’s most troubling for Jets fans is that Buffalo was in the same position that New York was a few years back.
The Bills drafted their franchise quarterback Josh Allen and built a quality team around him. On the flip side, the Jets drafted their franchise quarterback Sam Darnold and did the exact opposite.
As a result, one franchise is filled with hope and promise, and the other is hopeless and winless — no need to guess which is which.
So what about this coming Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium? The only instance this season where New York had an opportunity to win a game in the fourth quarter was against Denver.
Coincidentally, Sam Darnold’s last start.
For the Jets to have a realistic chance to be in that same position against Buffalo. Here are the three keys to making that happen.
Next: 3. The Jets must get off to a good start
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
3. The NY Jets must get off to a good start
One of the many reasons that the Jets have not been competitive in games this season is how poorly they have started each game. It’s an issue that has plagued the team all season, particularly on offense.
After last week’s 24-0 loss to the Miami Dolphins, future Hall of Fame running back Frank Gore voiced his frustrations over this very issue. The expletives have been redacted from Gore’s quote below.
It may neuter the overall statement, but it’s something that needed to be addressed.
“Like I said, as a team, we’ve got to start fast. When we play out there, we got to make it. Third down, we can’t wait until — the fourth quarter. Can’t wait until the fourth quarter to start playing ball, man. You can’t start slow in this league. When you got a chance to make a play, we got to make a play. That goes for me, goes for everybody on the offense. Goes for O-line, quarterback, running back, receiver. We all got to make the play when it’s there.”
A week ago, quarterback Joe Flacco missed two big plays down the field early on; with an assist from the returning Breshad Perriman, the blown opportunities could have changed the entire tone of the game.
For a change, the Jets coaches drew up plays that should have worked, but the individual players failed miserably to execute them. In Gore’s statement, he hinted at this but also made sure to also put the onus on himself.
It was actually refreshing to hear Gore’s rant. Whether or not it falls on deaf ears remains to be seen, but at least one player on the Jets showed a pulse. The overall team certainly hasn’t, especially at the start of their games.
In four of the Jets’ six losses, the team has scored three points or less in their games’ opening halves. The pattern is habitual — the Jets fall behind early, dig themselves into a hole and never get out of it.
For New York to stand a chance against Buffalo, they must come ready to play and succeed early on.
Next: 2. The Jets must control the line of scrimmage
2. The NY Jets must control the line of scrimmage
After six weeks of play, the Jets at 0-6 is not a shocking development. However, the Bills defensive ranking 23rd in the NFL is.
Buffalo has struggled mightily against the run. Buffalo’s run defense is ranked 25th overall. They are giving up 131 yards rushing per game. Last week, the Kansas City Chiefs rushed for 245 yards on the ground against the Bills.
On the opposite side of the ball, despite having one of the league’s most efficient runners at quarterback in Josh Allen. The Bills are ranked 27th in the league in rushing, and their ball-carriers are averaging less than four yards per carry.
Are the Jets good enough on the offensive and defensive lines to exploit the Bills issues in these areas? Maybe not. After all, New York hasn’t presented any evidence thus far, that would suggest that they can.
On offense this season, there is very little that the Jets can hang their hats on. However, here’s something, in the last two weeks, the team has averaged over four yards per rushing attempt, but because the team has fallen behind in those games, the run game has been abandoned.
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It would help if Mekhi Becton were to return to the Jets lineup this week. One of New York’s few bright spots this year has been the glimpses of Becton’s dominance on the offensive line.
A return to the Jets’ lineup could help the Jets shift their attack and exploit the Bills’ weakness. If Becton returns, running behind the franchise offensive tackle early and often should be the top priority.
On the defensive side of the ball, New York has had the same issues as Buffalo stopping the run. The Jets need to slow the Bills attack by neutralizing their rushing attack.
If they can do that, the Jets could make this game competitive — something that no one expects. After all, the oddsmakers have Buffalo as a two-touchdown favorite.
Next: 1. Sam Darnold has to outplay Josh Allen
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1. The NY Jets must see Sam Darnold outplay Josh Allen
Sam Darnold returns this Sunday — it might be the last time he and close friend Josh Allen face off against one another as members of the Bills and Jets.
Two franchise quarterbacks crossing paths yet again, although one of them may be headed in a different direction, come this time next year.
Very few could have predicted this type of scenario. Both Allen and Darnold were taken in the same draft, and the feeling was that they would be battling one another for years to come as they both ascended to elite status.
Allen isn’t there yet, but he’s one step closer. Unfortunately for Darnold, his ascent has been hindered by circumstances out of his control.
The Bills’ are locked into Josh Allen for a long time. The Jets might be looking for a new quarterback come next April. If you want to sum up briefly the difference between the two organizations, look no further than the teams’ two quarterbacks.
In Sunday’s game between Buffalo and New York, the traditional way of previewing a matchup between two teams is to break down opposing units. For example, the Bills wide receivers versus the Jets secondary or Sam Darnold versus the Bills defense.
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However, in this key, I think that if the Jets pull off the impossible on Sunday and win, it will be because Sam Darnold has outplayed Josh Allen. Something that Darnold has done in head to head matchups with Josh Allen and Buffalo in the past.
Josh Allen has gotten off to a scorching start in 2020. The addition of Stefon Diggs has played a huge factor in Allen’s growth and success. In recent weeks, Allen has had some accuracy issues, which has hindered his overall play in the past, but he has played like a star for the most part.
Allen has given the Jets defense fits in recent outings against Gang Green. The Green and White need to contain Allen and keep Diggs from killing them.
For Sam Darnold, provided that Jamison Crowder overcomes his current groin injury, Darnold might be getting some reinforcements to help him in his return to action.
On Sunday, Darnold has a chance to work with Crowder, Perriman, Becton, and the potential debut of second-round pick Denzel Mims.
The Jets have had their struggles in the past against the Bills secondary, as have other teams, but Buffalo’s pass defense is ranked 24th this season. They are allowing 256 yards per game.
The opportunities will be there for the Jets to make plays through the air, and a healthy Darnold is capable of doing it.
Is it too much to expect Sam Darnold to come off an injury and lead an unlikely Jets team to victory over Buffalo? Perhaps, but expecting Darnold to do a lot with very little won’t be a new experience.
What would be a first for the Jets in 2020 is a victory. It’s eluded them thus far, and it may continue to for the rest of the season.
There was a time when Sam Darnold gave the entire Jets nation hope. On one of these gamedays, Darnold might show everyone why that feeling existed in the first place.