The New York Jets headed into their Week 11 rematch with the Buffalo Bills needing a win to maintain their control of the sixth and final Wild Card spot in the AFC. The Jets had high hopes for the game, as they were able to move the ball at will in their first meeting with the Bills in Week 3, when Geno Smith recorded a career high 331 yards passing.
However, the pass game was an absolute disaster for the Jets on Sunday, and it cost them dearly. The Bills cruised to a 37-14 win that knocked the Jets back into the pack in the chase for the final playoff spot. Smith played perhaps his worst game of the season, completing just 8/23 passes for 103 yards, no touchdowns, three interceptions (including one pick six) and two fumbles (one lost).
The returns of Santonio Holmes, Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow were supposed to be a huge boost to the Jets’ passing game, and they expected a big performance this week. However, the Jets were not able to get anything going while Smith was in the game, with Holmes being the only receiver who was at all effective. Holmes had 71 yards receiving, but he only caught two of his eight targets. Cumberland recorded a garbage time touchdown from Matt Simms, but he, Winslow, David Nelson and the rest of the receiving corps were invisible for the first three quarters.
To be fair to Smith and his receivers, the offensive line was absolutely terrible. Smith was sacked four times, and he was under heavy pressure the entire game. The Bills recorded 8 QB hits and tipped several passes at the line, and Smith was forced to throw off his back foot or before he was ready on repeated occasions.
Going forward, the Jets desperately need to get their passing attack straightened out. They are still in control of their own playoff destiny, with key games against the Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns coming up down the stretch. The Jets need to be able to get these tough wins, especially on the road, and Smith’s performance will go a long way towards determining their success.
Smith has been extremely inconsistent and turnover prone, and if he continues to play this poorly then the Jets will continue to lose. Marty Mornhinweg and the rest of the offensive staff need to get Smith prepared for next week’s game against the Ravens, because the Jets cannot afford another loss. If the Jets don’t make major strides in their pass game, their playoff chances will be gone very soon.