Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
The Jets' season got off to an inauspicious start with a 21-12 loss in Buffalo. Questionable coaching decisions, poor communication in the defensive backfield, an overly conservative offensive gameplan, and inconsistent tackling all contributed to the loss. However, the Jets still kept the game competitive into the fourth quarter.
Let's break down the performances on the offensive side of the ball:
From the outset, it was clear the Jets were going to operate a low-risk, short passing game. Josh McCown operated this gameplan efficiently for three quarters. He led an 11-play, 75 yard drive to bring the Jets within two points late in the third quarter. But from that point on, he threw eight passes, three of which were intercepted -- although one doesn't officially count because it was on a two-point conversion attempt. McCown completed just three of those eight passes for eight yards.
McCown made some nice first down throws and got the ball out early and on time, which helped mitigate pressure from the Bills' pass rush. However, the short passing game was easy for the Bills to defend. And when McCown was forced to try to go down the field with the Jets trailing in the fourth quarter, he threw into traffic twice and was picked off.
For the Jets to be competitive this year, they'll need to establish more of a running game. They averaged just 2.5 yards per carry, but -- perhaps more importantly -- only had 15 attempts. If a ball control offense rushes for fewer yards (38) than their opponent has carries (42), something went wrong.
It's difficult to blame Matt Forté for his lack of success in the running game because there wasn't a lot of running room. However, he definitely let himself down by dropping two passes. He ended up with 36 yards on nine touches, although that included a 12-yard gain on a 3rd-and-20 dump-off that would make perfect sense if you were planning to go for it on fourth down. Instead, the Jets opted to punt the game away, down nine with four minutes to go.
As encouraging as it was to see Bilal Powell ultimately share the load on offense, he didn't enter the game on offense until five minutes into the second quarter and didn't touch the ball until there were less than four minutes left in the first half. He actually had more carries and targets than Forté, but seven carries still isn't enough -- and his five catches generated just 17 yards. Still, he accounted for two of the Jets' four third down conversions and one other first down.
In his first game as a Jet, Jermaine Kearse had a good performance, leading the team with seven catches for 59 yards. He's only surpassed seven catches once in his career. Four of Kearse's receptions went for first downs, including two third down conversions. He was only unsuccessfully targeted twice, on a wide throw and an end zone fade that was broken up.
Robby Anderson contributed four short catches, one of which went for a first down, but also had a tough drop. He almost made a huge play in the fourth quarter when he wrenched the ball away from the defensive back on a jump-ball, only to have been correctly ruled to have done so after the defensive player had secured control. Ironically, had Anderson simply clamped his hands on the ball instead of wrenching the ball away at the last moment, it's possible the officials might have ruled that simultaneous possession was established earlier and awarded him the catch.
Rookie ArDarius Stewart was the only other wide receiver targeted, making two short catches. He looked to have scored a touchdown with an athletic dive for the pylon, but the replay booth correctly overturned it because he had stepped out of bounds. Fellow rookie Chad Hansen also saw some time, but wasn't targeted.
At tight end, Eric Tomlinson had the first two catches of his career, leaking out downfield for 25 yards on the longest play of the game. However, his elbow injury left Will Tye as the only healthy tight end. Tye's three catches included a 21-yarder down the seam to set up the only touchdown, but he struggled as a blocker.
The largely unproven offensive line was overmatched in the running game and their success in limiting pressure in pass-protection was largely attributable to the quick passing gameplan. However, they provided McCown with some clean pockets on some successful passes.
The only sack they gave up was on McCown himself, as he failed to anticipate an un-blocked backside rusher on a roll-out to the right. Brian Winters signed a big money deal in the offseason but he let his man get off his block a couple of times and allowed a couple of pressures from stunting linemen. He also had a penalty for illegal use of the hands.
The other guard, James Carpenter, also had issue with letting players get off his block and in on the tackle. He had a couple of good blocks in the running game, though.
While right tackle Brandon Shell didn't allow much pressure, he received plenty of help in pass protection and was half-beaten a couple of times. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum had a holding penalty and allowed penetration a few times in the running game. He was beaten outside once in pass protection. Center Wesley Johnson had mixed results but did successfully move his man out of the middle a couple of times. On the whole, he held up quite well at the point of attack, only letting his man get off his block a couple of times, but didn't quite manage to find his target in space on a few plays. Finally, Brent Qvale saw some action as a sixth lineman. He was stood up on one play but had a good kick-out block on another.