With all of the hype surrounding the Buffalo Bills this offseason, particularly as the favorites to challenge the Patriots for the top of the AFC East this year, it seems as if many have forgotten that the Jets still play in the division. Since the Bills made the big splash this offseason in signing free agent defensive end Mario Williams, coupled with the Jets 8-8 season last year, most people have written New York off, and have proclaimed the Bills as the best team behind New England in the East. However, when comparing the Jets and the Bills, there are several things to consider before handing Buffalo two easy victories this season. This week’s New York Jets Fact Or False focuses on what to believe, and what not to believe, when it comes to the Jets vs. the Bills.
Fred Jackson will be an elite level RB this season. False. While Jackson surely experienced the greatest success of his career last season, the clock unfortunately struck midnight on his Cinderella story in week 11 when he suffered a fractured fibula against the Miami Dolphins. Now Jackson, on the wrong side of 30, will try to bounce back from the leg injury while battling father time, which just so happens to be horribly unkind to NFL Running Backs. In fact, last season there were only two backs that ranked in the top 30 in the NFL in rushing yards over the age of 30, Willis McGahee, who had just turned 30 in October of 2011, and Jackson. While it would certainly make for a nice story, it will be extremely difficult for Jackson to establish an elite level of production this season when considering all of these factors. Of course, crazier things in the NFL certainly have happened, however don’t forget that Jackson has had only just a single 1,000-yard season during his five years in the NFL. To expect him to surpass that less than a year removed from a broken leg at age 31 would be asinine.
Mark Sanchez is a better quarterback than Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fact. We can talk numbers all we want here, but there is only one number that matters in this debate: 4. That’s the number of playoff wins that Sanchez has over Fitzpatrick. In fact, Sanchez has won each of those games on the road against two good quarterbacks in Carson Palmer and Phillip Rivers, along with arguably the two greatest of all time in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. While Sanchez has yet to take the leap and lead his team to the Superbowl, Fitzpatrick has yet to take his team into the post season.
While staying on the topic of postseason success, consider this: Sanchez has done all of this at the ripe age of 25. With only one collegiate season as a full time starter, before his very young 3 years in the NFL, it would be completely ignorant to think his best years aren’t ahead of him. Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, started two seasons at Harvard before his 6 seasons in the league, and will turn 30 by midseason this year. Sure, the argument can be made that he is finally starting to blossom, but realistically Fitzpatrick has likely maxed his ceiling for success in the NFL. Not many players in this league turn the corner after the age of 30.
The Bills’ top offensive weapons are enough to overcome the Jets defense. False. I’m sure everyone associated with the Bills will argue this until the cows come home, and for good reason. Buffalo certainly has some talent on the offensive side of the ball. However, when matched up with the Jets, the Bills’ 4 best offensive weapons have not exactly performed at a level that would produce an abundance of victories. Here’s a look at how Jackson, RB CJ Spiller, WR Stevie Johnson, and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick have fared against Gang Green over the span of their careers in Buffalo.
Jackson – 77 carries, 268 yards, 1 Touchdown, 3.4 YPC. While Jackson certainly has elite talent level, his career high in yards against New York is a mere 82. The Jets have repeatedly shut down the efforts of Jackson over the five year span that he has been in the division, and in comparison with how he has played against the rest of the NFL, the argument could certainly be made that the Jets have his number.
Spiller – In Spiller’s four career games against the Jets, he has amassed the stat line of 26 carries for 76 yards and no touchdowns. This number could certainly be regarded as misleading due to the fact that Spiller hasn’t necessarily gotten a heavy workload during his four games against the Jets, however after the injury to Jackson last season, Spiller was forced to take over as the full time back in Buffalo. Against the Jets in week 12, Spiller was given a sizeable workload with 19 carries, but amassed just 55 yards for a 2.9 YPC average. These are not exactly numbers that will cause Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine to circle number 28 on the scouting report.
Johnson – While all of the Revis haters will undoubtedly argue that Johnson owns DR, a notion which we have already dispelled at Turn On The Jets, his career numbers against New York tell the truth. Over a span of six career games, Johnson has 22 catches for 283 yards and 3 Touchdowns. Those numbers average out to 3.7 receptions for 37 yards and .5 Touchdowns per game. Considering Johnson is Buffalo’s primary passing option, it is fair to assume that he will not be carrying the Bills to any victories over New York in the near future.
Fitzpatrick – One thing that cannot be denied about Fitzpatrick is that his most recent game against the Jets was easily his most successful. During their 2011 week 12 matchup, Fitz threw for 264 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. However, when looking a bit deeper, Fitzpatrick has struggled against the Jets more often than not. Since becoming a Bill in 2009, Fitzpatrick has thrown a total of 145 passes, while completing just 72 of them, resulting in a completion percentage of 49.6. To gauge what a good completion percentage in the NFL is, consider this: Blaine Gabbert completed 50.8% of his passes last season. While it could certainly be said that Fitzpatrick is finally starting to get comfortable against the Jets after playing them for three years, a similar argument could be made that he took advantage of the Jets poor defensive effort that day, causing his awful 49.6 career completion percentage against New York to actually be inflated. Most people would presumably take the latter.
Rex Ryan is a better Coach than Chan Gailey. Fact. This is one that surely is not up for argument. Gailey is 28-36 as an NFL Head Coach, while Ryan is 28-20. Gailey is 0-2 in the post season, while Rex is 4-2. Ryan’s biggest coaching accomplishment is winning a Super Bowl as the Defensive Line Coach for the Baltimore Ravens in 2000. Gailey’s greatest coaching accomplishment is winning a Division II NCAA National Championship in 1984 as the Head Coach of Troy. What else is there to debate?
Mario Williams will dominate the Jets in every contest. False. Based on his ability alone, it is certainly easy to assume that Williams is going to come into the AFC East and wreak havoc across the division. If healthy, Williams will undoubtedly have a great impact not only on the Bills, but against everyone he lines up against. Williams has played against the Jets just twice in his career, getting to Sanchez twice, both coming in their most recent matchup in 2010. However, Williams has never beaten Gang Green in his career, and when observing his surrounding talent in Houston, it is seemingly much better than what he has joined in Buffalo. Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans, two All-Pros, each played in both of Williams’ matchups against the Jets. The proclaimed “Super Mario” now joins a Buffalo defense that has just one former All-Pro in Shawn Merriman, who hasn’t exactly been “Lights Out” as of late. While there is surely an abundance of young potential in Buffalo’s front seven, let’s not crown Williams the sack king just yet. He will likely face a great amount of double teams until that young talent proves itself worthy of respect.
The Bills are still the Fredo of the AFC East. Fact. This notion has been looked at time and time again here at Turn On The Jets, yet it never seems to get old. When observing both characters here, the Buffalo Bills and Fredo Corleone (The infamous brother of Michael Corleone in The Godfather films, most known for going against the family), the similarities are uncanny. Both want to be the top dog, but just don’t have what it takes to garner any real respect. Fredo was overlooked to take over as head of the Family after Sonny was shot at the causeway because no one truly believed he had it in him to be the Boss of the long respected Corleones. Similarly, no one truly believes the Bills have it in them to overtake both the Jets and Patriots as the Boss of the long respected AFC East Division. The Bills want to be good, they really do, but like Fredo, they have a long history of never having quite enough in them to succeed. When Buffalo tried to act like the big dogs, they lost 4 consecutive Super Bowls. When Fredo tried acting like the big dog…well we all know how that ended.