Always an oldie but goodie, it is time to hear about what the Bills are facing this week by crossing enemy lines to a Jets' website to hear the lowdown on the stinking Jets. I'm joined by the folks over at One Jet at a Time to give us the 311. Enjoy and tell a friend or two.
1) Is this a do or die season for Rex Ryan? Why?
This is very much a do or die season for Rex Ryan. While, I believe people tend to over analyze the situation—Jets Owner Woody Johnson loves Ryan—anybody in the last year of a contract has to be on the hot seat. After two disappointing seasons, Jets fans and personnel have begun to question whether Rex's players-coach attitude, and defensive-focus, can work for long-term success. I believe it can.
Rex Ryan completely re-worked the attitude of organization when he joined the team in '09. Players began to work harder for the guy they liked. And while he doesn't tell the media the Jets will win SBs anymore, he still does have enough bluster.
With the Jets not being 'complete jokes' to open the season, as some portrayed it, I believe Rex survives 2013 if the Jets can have steady growth, week-by-week. As far as a record, my prediction has been 8-8, and that should save Ryan. Anything else depends on how the team plays each game.
2) How do you guys feel about Geno Smith becoming your QB? Seems like he’s been taking a lot of sacks.
We're excited about Geno Smith. Refreshing not to see #6 on the field anymore. With a new GM, and an overall rebuilding of the roster, the change at QB makes sense. Through two games, he has looked very much like a rookie, but with an upside that Mark Sanchez just doesn't have.
He has been taking a good number of sacks, and he deserves a good 50% of the blame. Smith holds onto the ball too long, waiting for the game to slow down for himself. However, the Jets O-Line has been one extreme to another. They have either given Smith endless time to throw, or none at all. Consistency will be key for both parties, and that will come with more in-game experience together.
3) Offensively, you guys look vastly different than last year’s squad and even those teams went to the AFC Championships, what do the new folks bring to the table?
The Jets are very different from anything we've seen recently, you are correct. They have new starting faces at QB, RB, and FB.
While Rex Ryan has always been known for his defensive play, this team has all the potential to be very special. The Jets have found a way to level out the front-7/DB mix, to cause havoc on opposing offenses. They're finally starting to get pressure, something the Jets have missed from those AFC Championship appearances.
The Jets have been without DE/LB Quinton Coples, so his return (possibly against BUF) should only bolster the rush. The young gun at defensive tackle, Sheldon Richardson, is already in talks for defensive ROY. Yes, it's early, but there's a lot to like on one side of the ball.
On offense, the best tool the Jets have is unpredictability. Without a true #1 WR, the Jets have really spread the ball around–a positive in a bad situation. RB Chris Ivory has explosiveness, and the team should look to feed him the ball more, even in OC Mornhinweg's pass-first system.
4) You guys have gotten rid of a lot of older defensive vets and replaced them with younger guys. How has that transition been and who should we look out for?
The transition was much-needed. Cap-eaters like LB Bart Scott (now an analyst) and S Eric Smith, had to go in order to bring in youth. And as I mentioned in the pass-rush department, it's been positive. The Jets are 10x faster, and that has been seen, especially, in their dramatic improvement in run-D.
The Jets finished last season 26th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game. So far in 2013, they are T-4th in run-D, allowing just 119 yards.
LB Demario Davis is a big reason as he's a great example of a young player answering the call. Davis' coverage skills are also impressive for a linebacker and his leadership is contagious.
5) The Bills have always had issues with dealing with TEs. I’ve seen that Kellen Winslow doesn’t look too shabby. How has he been?
Winslow could be the steal of the offseason, but with two big 'ifs.'
1) If he stays healthy
2) If his rapport with Geno Smith continues.
Winslow was relatively quiet against the Patriots (3 receptions, 16 yards), but I expect him to become a bigger part of the offense as the season progresses.
It's easy to forget TE Jeff Cumberland with a name like Winslow floating around, but the big target remains the #1 TE, as he's better (but not great) in run blocking. With no receptions yet in 2013, Cumberland could be the bigger threat this week, as his health is back in check.
6) How have you guys replaced the loss of Revis?
'You don't replace Revis.'
Still, CB Antonio Cromartie stepped up big time when Revis went down last season, earning a Pro Bowl selection. Cromartie has had rocky start to this season, at least according to his standards, getting lost a good measure against the Patriots. Rookie Dee Milliner made a great play for a strip-fumble on Edelman last week, but the Pats will always get calls their way in Foxboro, as I'm sure you know, and it was reversed.
Milliner was later benched, as the rookie needs the mental part of his game to catch up to his physical tools.
As far as game-planning, I'd expect some more zone calls this season. Strong pass-rush will help the Jets to stay in man-to-man, their bread and butter, if it continues to improve.
7) Overall, how do you guys feel about the Jets? They seem like such a fricken mess with trading Revis, the Sanchez preseason debacle, the crap with Tebow last year and just constantly being on the back pages of the Post. Are you guys on the right path from years past?
The Jets are on the right path. There's been a lot of mishandling as of late, but the foundation is in place for smart drafting and developing. I wouldn't read too much into 2011/2012 actions, as, like we've both said, this team is very different—young, new faces, that don't know/care what the Jets 'used' to be.