It’s Week 3 and the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills are both 1-1 — tied for last place in the AFC East, behind the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins. There are many things to watch for in this game, as both teams try to separate themselves and make a run at the division title. As always, the Empire Writes Back gets you up to speed on what to watch for out of the New York Jets as they try to prove their doubters wrong.
Geno Smith vs. E.J Manuel
So far, Manuel has the upperhand, playing better football, and posting up better numbers. In two games, Manuel has a 96 QB rating, completing 68 percent of his passes for 446 yards, three touchdowns and only one interception.
In two games, Smith has a 55 QB rating, completing 53 percent of his passes for 470 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions — Smith has also been sacked nine times.
It’s tough to say that Manuel was the better option because we have to take into consideration the opponents they faced, their offensive line and their offensive weapons. Manuel clearly has more offensive playmakers than Geno does, so it’s hard to say the Jets should’ve invested an early pick on Manuel.
We’ll see what Manuel can do against the Jets’ No. 2 ranked defense this Sunday.
Stevie Johnson vs. Jets secondary
These past few years, the Jets have been known to have a solid defense; shutting down receivers with the likes of Antonio Cromartie, former Jet Darrelle Revis, LaRon Landry, etc. One receiver, though, has not had a difficult time standing out. That receiver is: Bills receiver Stevie Johnson. Over the last three seasons, when facing the Jets, the receiver produced 428 yards with 29 receptions and three touchdowns.
The Jets’ defense has been good this season, but they have had a hard time tracking their receivers at times. Last week against the Patriots, the Jets allowed Julian Edelman to haul in 13 catches; the week before, Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson racked up 154 yards.
With three new members in their secondary, the Jets will have a difficult time with Johnson. Johnson is explosive off the line, and can burn the secondary with his speed. Can Rex and the defense put enough pressure on the quarterback to take the receiver out of the game?
Will the Jets balance out their running and passing plays?
The New York Jets have been calling more passing plays than they ever have in the Jets’ Rex Ryan era—and this is with a rookie quarterback behind center. This season, the Jets’ play calling has been very pass-heavy with 83 pass plays called compared to 61 run plays, meaning the Jets have called pass plays 57 percent of the time in two games. And we expected that from new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, but is the play calling hurting the Jets and Geno Smith?
In two games, Smith has thrown four picks, and has been sacked nine times, while only throwing one touchdown. His QB rating is 55.2, good for 30th best in the league. Is it because of the play-calling? Or the lack of the run game?
The Jets and Mornhinweg need to balance out their attack; limit the rookie’s mistakes by running the ball and running out clock. If the run is successful, it can open up the passing game.
Jets run defense vs. C.J. Spiller
The Jets have clearly improved their run defense, holding Doug Martin and Stevan Ridley to a combined 2.6 yards per carry. But Bills running back is a whole different animal. Spiller is fast. Very fast. Last season, Spiller scorched the Jets defense by producing 325 yards from the line of scrimmage. This year, the Bills are gashing defenses, averaging 7.6 yards per carry.
Spiller will be tough to stop because he can either beat you around the edges or if lined up as a receiver. If the Jets defensive linemen or their linebackers can’t contain the speedy running back, it could be a long day for the Jets.