Bills @ Jets Preview
Jets: 2-2 record
The Jets had a preseason that was mostly devoid of any crazy drama – a refreshing change for the franchise. Without a quarterback battle going on, the focus shifted to the battles going on further down the depth chart, at positions such as wide receiver, cornerback, and defensive tackle.
Ultimately, the Jets found themselves scrambling for help at a few positions, and Joe Douglas got busy on the waiver wire. A few surprise cuts were made, with players such as Greg Dortch (WR), Deontay Burnett (WR), Kyron Brown (CB), and Jachai Polite (OLB) surprisingly hitting the cutting block. Polite was a third-round pick this year, and his exodus was the biggest surprise of the preseason.
Douglas made a plethora of late additions that ended up landing on the 53-man roster, picking up Alex Lewis (G), Nate Hairston (CB), John Franklin-Myers (DE), Matthias Farley (S), Bennett Jackson (S), Braxton Berrios (WR), and Kaare Vedvik (K). He also pulled starting center Ryan Kalil out of retirement.
All in all, Douglas had work to do on the bottom of the depth chart, but things looked good at the top. The revamped Jets offense looked great under Sam Darnold and Adam Gase, even without Le’Veon Bell. The starting defense was strong in its limited time.
Bills: 3-1 record
Just as they are with the Jets, all eyes in Buffalo are pointed at the team’s young franchise quarterback. The keys to Orchard Park have been entrusted in the hands of Josh Allen, who had a promising rookie season in 2018.
Allen is a phenomenal athlete and rusher, but he came out of his debut season needing to make some improvements as a thrower. In the preseason, he looked much improved. Over three exhibition appearances, Allen completed 18 of 28 pass attempts for 217 yards, throwing no interceptions and averaging 7.8 yards per attempt. That’s a big-time improvement over the 6.5 yards per attempt average that Allen posted as a rookie.
One of Buffalo’s many prized new additions on offense was slot wide receiver Cole Beasley, the longtime Dallas Cowboy who joined the Bills in free agency. Beasley impressed in the preseason, hauling in seven of eight targets for 71 yards. His sure-handedness, durability, and toughness should make him a valuable security blanket for Allen.
Where Do They Stand?
The Jets and Bills find themselves in extremely similar positions. Both are long-suffering AFC East franchises who have lived in the shadow of the New England Patriots for what seems like an eternity. New York hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010, while Buffalo hasn’t won a playoff game since 1995, which was also the last year they won a division title. The Jets haven’t claimed their division since 2002.
Now, both franchises are in position to finally make a sustained return to relevancy. The main reason why? Quarterbacks.
Both teams took a quarterback in the top ten of the 2018 Draft, and each player showcased the potential become the long-term answer that these teams have been searching decades for. Stars come and go at other positions, but until a team finds a solution at quarterback, it is going to be nearly impossible for them to consistently be in the Super Bowl picture.
Each sporting a franchise quarterback, young head coach, promising defense, and a revamped offense filled with new weapons, the Jets and Bills are mirror images of one another. In Week 1, we will get a glimpse of these two emerging squads side-by-side – and one of them will get an early leg up on the other in what is poised to be a packed AFC Wild Card race.
Jets – Sam Darnold’s 120.6 passer rating
Sam Darnold had himself an impressive preseason. He completed 17 of 25 passes for 211 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He averaged a superb 8.4 yards per attempt, and generated a sterling passer rating of 120.6.
Bills – Frank Gore’s 6.4 yards per carry
The Bills surprisingly cut veteran running back LeSean McCoy ahead of the cut-down deadline. In turn, the backfield duties are left to rookie Devin Singletary, former Jaguar T.J. Yeldon, and longtime veteran Frank Gore. The 36-year old Gore made some nice plays in the preseason, gaining 64 yards on 10 rushing attempts.
Matchup of the Game:
Robby Anderson vs. Tre’Davious White
The battle between New York’s speedy top receiver and Buffalo’s playmaking No. 1 corner will be one to watch. Anderson and White have clashed three times before, and Anderson has scored a touchdown against White in each of the last two games they met up. Combined, Anderson has caught 5 of 7 targets for 82 yards against White in their last two meetings, with all five catches resulting in first downs.
By Michael Nania