I really should stop predicting games from now on.
So this week, facing a good New York Jets defense and staring down a history of abuse at the hands of the Jets, I predicted a certain loss to Rex Ryan and his up-and-down Jets.
Again: I am an idiot.
The Bills pretty much dominated from start to finish, clicking on all cylinders despite missing Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods and the fact that the running game did a whole lot of nothing, averaging just 1.8 yards per carry.
There are a few things to cover, so let’s see what we learned from Sunday’s 37-14 win.
Crow Tastes Goooood
I was probably the most adamant after the NFL Draft that E.J. Manuel was the wrong pick and the Bills had made a huge mistake. Through just about seven games of his career I’m eating crow. So much crow, you guys.
In arguably his best outing of the year, Manuel was on point while missing his two best targets. He finished the day 20-of-28 with 245 yards and deep touchdown passes. He was consistently on-point with his short throws, moving the chains with regularity. His deep ball to T.J. Graham that wound up a touchdown wasn’t the prettiest throw, but his second touchdown pass of the day traveled a long way before softly dropping into the hands of Marquise Goodwin.
Manuel looked like the dynamic guy the Bills thought they were getting in the first round. He scrambled a few times when nothing was there, made mostly good, smart throws and showed he can punish teams over the top.
Best crow I ever ate.
I’ve been advocating this defense all year despite numbers that land them somewhere near the middle of the pack or further back. Yesterday, they showed just what I was talking about.
The pass rush was constantly in the face of Geno Smith, even knocking him out twice, picking off a trio of passes and limiting both quarterbacks to just 12-of-29 passing for 163 yards and one touchdown.
Buffalo swarmed all day long and capped it off with Da’Norris Searcy’s pick-six late. This is what the defense is capable of at full strength. They’re fast, they’re aggressive, and if they get some depth at linebacker and corner they can roll with just about any offense and give them a run for their money.
Running Into A Wall
The big negative of the day is obviously the running game. Fred Jackson led the way with 34 yards on 12 carries (2.8 YPC) and the team finished with just 68 yards on the day for a 1.8 YPC average.
Most scary is that this is the second-straight abysmal rushing day for the Bills. How did one thing that was such a strength turn into such a problem?
Part of it has to be attributed to defenses daring Manuel to beat them. Jackson and C.J. Spiller are running into stacked boxes and the results are obvious. Perhaps it’ll open back up after this performance, but they need to find ways to get those two more involved out of the backfield.
And when that happens, look out.