Jets Loss To Bills: 3 Up, 3 Down

The winners and losers as the Jets fell to the Bills
Michael Nania
Tue, September 10, 10:07 AM EDT

Three Up

 

C.J. Mosley

The Jets made Mosley the richest off-ball linebacker in the NFL, and he delivered in his debut. Mosley was all over the field, notching a pick-six, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown-saving pass deflection.

His impact on the game was apparent once he left the game due to a groin injury. The Bills had scored only three points prior to Mosley’s exit. After he left the game, the Bills immediately scored touchdowns on back-to-back drives.

Specifically, Mosley’s absence was felt in the run game. With Mosley in the game, the Jets allowed the Bills to rush for only 55 yards on 16 carries, an average of 3.4 yards per attempt. Bills running backs picked up only 28 yards on eight carries. Then, on the first drive in which Mosley was not on the field, Bills running backs picked up 57 yards on four carries.

Mosley was a superstar in his Jets debut. Hopefully, he’ll be back on the field against the Browns next week. If the fourth quarter of Week 1 was any indication, the Jets will be in a lot of trouble if Mosley misses any games.

 

Le’Veon Bell

Bell’s box score stats were solid, but not necessarily spectacular. In his first game as a Jet, Bell rushed for 60 yards on 17 carries while catching six passes for 32 yards. He hauled in a receiving touchdown and converted a two-point play afterward. Nice numbers – but nothing world-beating.

However, those numbers undersell the tremendously positive impact Bell had in this game. The run blocking by the Jets offensive was extremely subpar, yet Bell consistently kept the offense on schedule by grinding out his own yardage. He consistently found a way to make the first defender miss, sometimes running through them and sometimes juking them out of their shoes. On plenty of occasions, Bell made multiple defenders miss on the same play, on his way to productive gains for the offense.

As expected, Bell made a big impact in the passing game as well. Bell’s touchdown reception was a great play, as he snagged a low pass from Sam Darnold. Right after that, Bell made a stupendous leaping grab for the two point conversion.

Bell pass-blocked a few times as well, and he bought Darnold a lot of time with his strong blocking on those snaps.

Do not let the stats or the team's struggles on offense mislead you — Bell made a big-time positive impact on the offense in his debut. The way that the Jets offense was playing, it seems likely that they would not have scored at all without Bell's contributions.

 

Jamison Crowder

Crowder was Sam Darnold’s favorite target in Week 1. The former Redskin recorded a whopping total of 14 catches, gaining 99 yards on those. Crowder’s catch total tied him with Al Toon for the second-best single-game mark in the history of the Jets, trailing only Clark Gaines’ 17 catches against the 49ers back in 1980.

Despite posting a low average of 7.1 yards per reception, Crowder was productive moving the chains, as he recorded six first down receptions. He showed strong awareness of the first down marker, often finding a way to get over the line on plays in which he needed to grind out the necessary yardage.

 

Three Down

 

Sam Darnold

Darnold had an extremely rough season debut. He threw for only 175 yards across 41 pass attempts, averaging a career-low 4.3 yards per pass attempt.

The sophomore pro had a rough time pushing the ball downfield, as he averaged an astoundingly low 6.3 yards per completion.

Despite struggles from some of those around him, Darnold still did a poor job in his own role. He missed numerous open throws, most of those to Robby Anderson, including a couple of deep shots late in the game. His touchdown pass to Le’Veon Bell was low and required an athletic grab to be completed. Some of his passes to Jamison Crowder were off the mark and forced Crowder to make adjustments, reducting his after-the-catch potential.

There are a lot of people to blame for the Jets’ abysmal offensive performance against the Bills, but it all starts with the quarterback. Darnold is expected to prove he is a franchise quarterback this year, and his season debut, he looked like anything but.

 

Offensive line

While Darnold was poor, he deserves some slack due to the putrid performance by the group in front of him.

The Jets offensive line was expected to improve this season, thanks to the additions of left guard Kelechi Osemele, center Ryan Kalil, and coach Frank Pollack.

However, Kalil’s late arrival meant that the first-team starting five did not get any live game action together throughout the preseason. The team’s season opener against the Bills was their playing time together in a real game – and it showed in the worst ways.

Kalil’s veteran presence should be able to stabilize the protection issues that plagued New York last season, but the communication was way off in Week 1. Free rushers came at Darnold untouched throughout the game. Whether they were defensive backs off the edge, linebackers up the middle, or defensive ends coming on stunts, blitzing defenders created pressure with ease. It was nearly impossible for Darnold to get into a rhythm with the constant duress he was under.

Additionally, the run blocking was poor, especially when the rushes were directed behind left tackle Kelvin Beachum or right tackle Brandon Shell. It seems neither player has made significant strides in the run game after struggling mightily in that phase last season.

The unit gets a slight pass for one game since it was their first action together, but now they have a game of tape to look back on. This group has to perform a lot better going forward.

 

Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts

Cornerback has been one of the biggest question marks on this roster ever since the final whistle of the 2018 season. In Week 1, the skepticism surrounding this position was proven valid.

Trumaine Johnson continues to look more and more like one of the most overpaid players in the NFL. After a highly underwhelming first season with the Jets, there was hope that a reunion with former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams would help Johnson return to his former status as a top cornerback, but Week 1 was not a good start. Johnson struggled with the same issues, playing extremely soft coverage and giving out free first down catches all day long.

Darryl Roberts seemed to have the potential to be a solid No. 2 cornerback after flashing brightly at the position last year before being moved out of position to safety. However, he was absolutely brutal against the Bills. First, he committed a holding penalty away from the play that wiped out an interception by Marcus Maye. Later, he was burnt brutally by John Brown on the Bills’ go-ahead touchdown – even though he was called for a hold in the process.

The Jets have a lot of issues to sort out after their Week 1 disaster, but none may be more pressing than cornerback. That position lost the Jets a game against Josh Allen and the Bills. If the Jets cornerbacks were complete liabilities against once of the least fearsome passing attacks in football, things are probably not going to be pretty against Baker Mayfield, Tom Brady, Carson Wentz, and Dak Prescott over the next four games.

 

By Michael Nania

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