It was anticipated the young Buffalo Bills would experience their fair of growing pains in 2013. Against the New York Jets Sunday afternoon, they took pain to a whole new level.
In a game that at times literally felt painful to watch, the Bills took to the road for the first time this season and rolled out a performance on par with many of the anemic efforts fans have grown accustomed to. The Jets seemingly did everything possible to aid the Bills to a win, but Buffalo continuously returned the favor and wound up losing, 27-20.
Let’s put this out there—the Jets are not a good football team, which makes the maddening for Buffalo. The Jets committed a mind blowing 20 penalties for 168 yards, and rookie quarterback Geno Smith gave the defense a pair of gift-wrapped interceptions.
It didn’t matter. The Bills were even more inept.
E.J. Manuel likely has a bright future in the NFL but had an ominous showing Sunday. He was indecisive while making decisions in the pocket and incredible inaccurate when delivering the football. Many of his throws were behind or low on receivers, and the majority of tosses long down the sideline sailed multiple yards out of bounds. His stat line looked respectable: 29-of-42 for 243 yards and a touchdown, but don’t mistake the number for a good day. It wasn’t.
While Manuel certainly has better days ahead of him, cornerback Justin Rogers will be fortunate if he’s not looking for a job come Monday morning. Rogers was abused and humiliated by Jets receivers all afternoon and got beat directly for long touchdowns by Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes. Without exaggeration, it was one of the worst performances by a cornerback in the history of the NFL.
There were problems beyond those two. The offensive line was often mauled by the Jets front seven and blitzes. Manuel was sacked eight times after being dropped just once in the first two games, and often ran for his life when he wasn’t being pulled to the ground. Colin Brown this past week was rated as the worst guard in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, and it was easy to see why against the Jets. However, pinning everything on Brown is unfair, because the rest of the line wasn’t much better.
The defense overall sans Rogers fared better, but they did allow a career-high 149 rushing yards to Bilal Powel, and Smith threw for 331 yards without taking a sack.
As ugly as the near-four hours witnessing this was, the Bills had plenty of opportunities to win but couldn’t take advantage of Jets miscues. Interceptions by Jim Leonhard and Kiko Alonso gave the Bills great field position, but we’re only able to convert them into a pair of field goals.
To make matters worse, the Bills were hit rather hard with injuries. Leodis McKelvin was lost for the game with a hamstring on the first defensive series. Marcell Dareus went down with an ankle injury. C. J. Spiller, who had just 10 rushing yards on nine carries, left with a knee issue and defensive end Alex Carrington was carted off with a leg injury late in the game.
My advice to fans is to not get down on this team after this loss, just as it was proven wise to not be too high after beating Carolina last week. It’s naïve to think this young team, with a rookie quarterback wouldn’t have a horrific showing at some point, particularly on the road. This is a team that needs to learn how to win and while a 1-2 record with defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore coming to town next week isn’t appealing, it’s part of a process—one we all should have expected.
We’ll have much more on today’s debacle in the coming hours.