By Sal Maiorana - Rochester D&C
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - With their first opportunity to make a statement about what type of team they hope to be, the Buffalo Bills reminded us Sunday of what type of team they've been for the last decade-plus.
The Bills were inefficient, lackluster and way too predictable on offense, egregiously bad in all phases on defense, and lost 27-20 to a New York Jets team that did almost everything it could possibly do to give Buffalo the victory.
Ugly doesn't come to close to capsulizing that nightmare at MetLife Stadium as the Bills allowed EJ Manuel to be sacked eight times, got only 10 yards of total offense on 11 touches from C.J. Spiller, and yielded 513 yards to a New York offense operated by rookie Geno Smith.
Doug Marrone did all he could to put a smiley face on his teams' performance, relying on a bank of clichés, but one would guess Marrone knows how poorly his team played, and he really doesn't need to "look at the film" to come to that conclusion.
To single out one aspect would be foolhardy given the totality of the collapse, but one that surely had Bills fans ranting on their Twitter accounts was the offensive game plan put forth by Nathaniel Hackett.
Yes, patience is required in this area because like his quarterback and one of his wide receivers, Hackett is an NFL rookie, and he's got a lot to learn. Let's hope he keeps learning.
The 33-year-old is a voracious film studier, and no doubt a student of the game having grown up a coach's son, so he likely had a good idea of what the Jets were going to do on defense. And if he didn't, all he had to do was ask defensive coordinator Mike Pettine who surely had a clue, having worked in New York the previous four years.
However, Hackett was overmatched by Rex Ryan and his strategists. Hackett was determined to run the ball in an effort to derail the Jets' blitz packages, but he failed to dig deep enough into his playbook to find something that worked.
When the running game bogged down, Hackett never had an answer for how to stop the pass rush. With Manuel chucking and ducking, the Bills were, for most of the game, helpless on offense. It seemed almost surreal that they were able to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter. In fact, it took a nicely blown coverage by the Jets' secondary to achieve that score.
No one should be surprised by what happened. But it won't be asking too much of Hackett and the offense to learn this harsh lesson and come up with a better plan the next time out.
Here are some other thoughts:
• The Bills have a huge problem in their secondary if CB Leodis McKelvin misses any time with his hamstring injury. It's almost inconceivable that an NFL team could trot out Justin Rogers, Nickel Robey, Brandon Burton and Johnny Adams as its cornerbacks. These guys couldn't start for the University of Alabama.
• Robert Woods had a tough day. He caught only two of the 10 passes he was targeted for, and he made a terrible mistake on his one big play. It went for 29 yards, but could have been much longer if he hadn't stepped out of bounds with no one around him. That was a sloppy play by the rookie.
• Bilal Powell rushed for 149 yards. Who is Bilal Powell? Seriously, how does that guy gain 149 yards against any NFL team?
• Rex Ryan won the game, but his team committed 20 penalties, and he was 0-for-2 on challenges, and both of his challenges were simply stupid. By wasting those two, he didn't have one available in the fourth quarter when EJ Manuel clearly lost a fumble and the officials missed it.
• Fred Jackson is the best running back on the roster right now. I have no idea what is wrong with C.J. Spiller, but he looks like he did his rookie year when he couldn't figure out how to gain yards in the NFL.
• If the Bills suffer an injury on the offensive line, they're in big trouble. Starter Colin Brown can't play a lick, yet he's starting. What does that say about Sam Young and Thomas Welch? Oh my. Hopefully Doug Legursky returns soon and can help.