The New York Jets 2017 regular season got off to a start that many expected. They slogged back and forth in an ugly game against Buffalo, losing 21-12 as they ran out of steam in the 4th quarter. This is likely one of the worst teams that they will play this season, which makes it that much more troubling (except for the tank) that they couldn’t stay within one possession. There were a few bright spots but this game was mostly a magnifying glass on the roster development and game management problems plaguing this franchise.
Defensively, the Jets only allowed 21 points but were gashed with yardage up and down the field. They had an end-zone interception that saved them early in the game and a pair of sacks but for the most part struggled to track Tyrod Taylor, who had an efficient, productive game…like he always does. Kony Ealy, Leonard Williams and rookie Jamal Adams had active games, particularly Ealy who was all over the place in both the pass and run game. Both Juston Burris and Morris Claiborne held up well on the outside.
Yet, Buffalo was smart enough to hit the Jets in their weakness consistently. Darron Lee and Demario Davis were beat up and down the field by the Bills tight ends and running backs, while regularly being out of place in the running game. You would be hard pressed to find a worst pair of starting inside linebackers in the NFL, as Lee looked comically overdrafted as first rounder and Davis looked exactly like he did in 2015 for the Jets.
Buster Skrine was also victimized in the middle of the field for a big play by Jordan Matthews, which set up a key second half touchdown for the Bills. Muhammad Wilkerson was still in 2016 form, loafing around the field, easily getting pushed around in the run game and making a minimal impact overall. Marcus Maye also struggled in his debut, getting beat for a pair of touchdowns and missing multiple tackles. The offense did the defense no favors but the Jets are bad right now at inside backer, slot corner and will take lumps at safety with rookie starters.
Offensively, what did you expect with this collection of players? Josh McCown executed a highly conservative game plan, going 26/39 for 187 yards, with a rushing touchdown and two second half interceptions. He appeared to be most comfortable with Jermaine Kearse who had 7 receptions for 59 yards and Will Tye who had 3 catches for 34 yards. Robby Anderson struggled to make an impact, finishing with only 22 receiving yards.
The Jets running game was non existent. Matt Forte ran the ball like a drunk in snow boots, finishing with 16 yards on 6 carries and 20 receiving yards. Bilal Powell wasn’t used until late in the 2nd quarter but didn’t fair much better, finishing with 39 yards on 12 touches. The offensive line was decent in pass protection but could not generate any push in the run game.
The special teams were okay, as Kalif Raymond had a nice punt return and Chandler Catanzaro made two long field goals.
Todd Bowles made a comically bad decision to punt with 4 minutes left down 9 points, basically a give up call. The Jets were prepared to play today and were simply out matched from a talent perspective but insanely awful game management like that decision will help expedite Bowles’ departure from New York. The Jets were also hyper conservative before the half, taking a knee with three timeouts and over 30 seconds left on the clock.
When you are asking yourself, how is this roster so bad? It is because of things like second round picks being spent on Devin Smith and Christian Hackenberg. It is because of things like a first round pick being spent on Darron Lee and a third round being spent on Lorenzo Mauldin. It is because Buster Skrine is one of the highest paid players on the team. It is because after Eric Tomlinson got hurt in the first quarter, the Jets were left with 1 active tight end (who was signed a few days ago) and zero fullbacks. This is a poorly constructed roster, crumbling thanks to years of poor drafting.
The Jets are now headed to Oakland, where they are likely to be 13-16 point underdogs.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com