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Around the Nation: Bills-Jets commentary

Posted Nov 19, 2013

National pundits weigh-in on the Bills 37-14 win over the Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

NATIONAL COMMENTS

TSN.com, Scott Cullen – 50 points on week 11
17. With Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods out due to injuries, Bills WRMarquise Goodwin (6 REC, 81 YDs, 1 TD, 9 targets), a rookie drafted in the third round out of Texas, stepped up and was the primary target for QB E.J. Manuel.

46. Bills RB Fred Jackson (39 YDS, 14 touches) and C.J. Spiller (16 YDS, 15 touches) struggled to run the ball against the Jets, which isn't unusual since the Jets allow a league-low 732 rushing yards and 2.9 yards per carry against, but it was particularly disappointing for Spiller, who has run for 29 yards on 21 carries over the last two games since rushing for a season-high 116 yards against Kansas City in Week Nine.

50. Big defensive games: Bills FS Jairus Byrd (4 tackles, 1 sack, 2 INT); Bills MLB Kiko Alonso (13 tackles, 1 TFL);

Football Outsiders, Vince Verhi – 6th ranked QB of week 11 – EJ Manuel
The Bills opened up with an awfully conservative game plan against the Jets. In the first half, they ran 11 times on first down, with just one pass, an incompletion. In the second half, though they never led by fewer than 13 points, they had three first-down passes: a 5-yard gain, a 40-yard gain, and a 43-yard touchdown.

NFL.com – Primetime countdown, Deion Sanders’ top 10
EJ Manuel and Jairus Byrd ranked No. 7 (Video)

MMQB, Peter King – Monday Morning Quarterback column
1. I think this is what I liked about Week 11:
g. Great goal-line stop by Buffalo strong safety Aaron Williams to stop a Jets rushing TD when Jets-Bills was still a game.

ESPN.com, John Clayton – Last Call
One of the smartest moves of the day came from Bills coach Doug Marrone, who had offensive coordinator Nate Hackett coach from the field instead of the press box. That hands-on approach helped rookie EJ Manuel complete 20 of 28 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns. …

Football Outsiders, Aaron Schatz – Audibles in week 11
The big difference between the two teams is that Geno Smith just completely wilted under the Buffalo pass pressure while EJ Manuel played well. He had a couple of long bombs, like the one where Marquise Goodwin beat Antonio Cromartie deep, but he also had a lot of short dumpoffs under pressure and he found the guys Smith couldn't find, going 20-for-28 with no picks.

Rivers McCown: Why do I feel like Buffalo is the sixth-best team in the AFC right now?

National Football Post, Jason Cole – Five winners
2. Buffalo linebacker Kiko Alonso – Alonso has been a monster so far this season and went past the 100-tackle mark during the lopsided win over the New York Jets. Alonso led the Bills’ improving defense with 13 tackles and the Bills had four sacks and four turnovers. Alonso’s instincts are truly stunning. He reads plays so quickly that he rarely takes a bad step in pursuit. Throw in four interceptions and a forced fumble this season and you have an extraordinary player. Between Alonso and Luke Kuechly of Carolina, this could be the next version of Zach Thomas and Ray Lewis.

SI.com, Don Banks – Snap judgements
Buffalo dismantled the on-again, off-again Jets 37-14, and the game marked the return of Bad Geno, with Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble. Smith was so bad (8-of-23 for 103 yards and those four turnovers) that Ryan yanked him in favor of backup Matt Simms in the fourth quarter, which is the NFL equivalent of running up the white flag.

Bills rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel was considerably better, torching New York's tough defense for 245 yards and a pair of long touchdown passes, completing 20-of-28 passes. The Bills are only 4-6, but when Manuel has been healthy this season, Buffalo for the most part has been very tough to beat.

SI.com, Doug Farror – Rookie QB review
Manuel was able to take advantage of a Jets defense that has been porous against the pass all season, and the recent addition of safety Ed Reed — who started at free safety — didn’t help. It was Buffalo safety Jairus Byrd who was the game’s best deep pass enforcer, and Manuel completed 20-of-28 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns. He completed passes to nine receivers, and threw the ball in high winds as if they didn’t exist.

Head coach Doug Marrone remembered how the front office specifically scouted Manuel for his ability to throw in such conditions, Florida State alum or not.

“I know this sounds crazy and I’ve said it before, but one of the things we’re looking at is the hand size,” Marrone said. “When you look at the quarterbacks that have thrown well in bad weather, it’s mostly guys that can throw the ball, have a good arm, doesn’t have to be great, but a good arm and has big hands. Obviously EJ had the second or first biggest hands and then … we worked him out in probably the conditions we just had today. Not the wind, but it was rainy, a little windy. We knew he could throw the ball and that was one of the factors that went in to picking EJ.”

As with most rookie quarterbacks, Manuel has had his ups and downs. He was just happy to be on the right side of the scoreboard this time, especially with top receivers Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods out with injuries.

“We just trusted our receivers. T.J. [Graham] and Marquise [Goodwin] both did a huge job, a great job stepping up for us this week with Woody and Stevie being injured,. So both guys, we’re very thankful that they came out and they were focused they were ready to go. They knew that the ball was coming to them and made great plays for us.”

USA Today, Tom Pelissaro – Takeaways
N.Y. Jets 14: Rookie QB Geno Smith (8-of-23, four turnovers) finally was bad enough to get benched.
BUFFALO 37: It's a different team with QB EJ Manuel, who put up a 121.9 rating without top WR Stevie Johnson (groin).

NFL.com, Around the League
2. Kyle Williams looks every bit the player he was before his career was thrown off course by foot issues. The Bills defensive tackle played a major role in rattling Smith, finishing with two sacks, two quarterback hits and one forced fumble.

SB Nation, James Dator – Week 11 Takeaways
The 2013 season has become about offensive evaluation for Buffalo, and the organization has to be pleased with what they saw from E.J. Manuel on Sunday. The cards were stacked against the rookie quarterback without his two top receivers and against one of the league's best defenses, but Manuel remained poised in the pocket and picked his spots to make plays. He completed over 70 percent of his passes and led the offense effectively.

Pro Football Focus – Reaction blog
In a match-up that featured our number one (Jets) and number three (Bills) run defenses it was always likely to be down to the quarterbacks to win this game. E.J. Manuel played about as well as he’s done all year without doing too much spectacular while Geno Smith had his worst outing of the year. No prizes for guessing the outcome.  

- The three highest graded players were Marcel Dareus ( 4.4), Kyle Williams ( 4.0) and Sheldon Richardson ( 3.8)
- The three lowest graded players were Geno Smith (-8.2), Nick Mangold (-3.0) and Brian Winters (-2.7)
- Just how good is the Jets interior run defense? On runs inside the tight ends they allowed just 37 yards on 23 carries at 1.6 per attempt with a long of 7 yards.
- After a below average game first up and then a mini mid-season penalty glut, Kyle Williamsis rounding into the type of form we all know and love. Of interior linemen only three players have a higher pass rush productivity than his 9.6 and of these only J.J. Watt is rated higher against the run.
- So Fred Jackson started and played 9 more snaps than C.J. Spiller – a changing of the guard? Not really as Spiller ended up with one more touch than Jackson but was in to pass protect seven less times.

Pro Football Focus, John Breitenbach – Byrd wins game ball
Buffalo – Three Performances of Note
DT Dominance

In a game featuring some dominant games from defensive lineman, it was the Bills’ interior duo that really stood out. Marcell Dareus ( 4.4) and Kyle Williams ( 4.0) just don’t get blocked very much. The duo combined for two sacks, two hits, three hurries and a batted pass in 60 rushes. Dareus logged the batted pass at the line of scrimmage and also got to Smith rapidly on one hit early in the game (Q1, 12.57). Williams, meanwhile, had a crucial sack and forced fumble that set the Bills up inside the 10. Both players were heavily involved in the run game as well, recording four stops between them. Williams was active early in the game, stopping a first-down Jets run by beating Brian Winters inside and recording a tackle after a short gain. When the pair are in this kind of form, the Bills are going to be hard to beat.

A Byrd, Not a Plane
When Jairus Byrd ( 3.6) plays like this you understand why he held out. The Pro-Bowl safety added another two picks and now ranks third overall among safeties despite only playing six games. His coverage numbers read: 10 targets, three receptions, 18 yards, three interceptions and two pass deflections… passer rating of 0.0 allowed. Wow. He was only targeted twice by the Jets and both passes he picked off. Both picks came on routes across the middle where he just read Smith’s eyes, broke in front of the receiver and made the catch. As if that wasn’t enough, he showed great closing speed on his sack. He added another hit as a pass rusher that was negated by penalty.

Sputtering Spiller
So much was expected of CJ Spiller (-2.1) after his tremendous 2012 but so little has been delivered. Sunday was a low point as he had just 6 yards on 13 attempts. No doubt he didn’t get a lot of help from his offensive line, but he couldn’t escape any tackles and picked up just 10 yards after contact. Spiller only failed to force a missed tackle in two of 16 games in 2012 and averaged 3.6 yards after contact per attempt. In contrast, he’s already got five games without a forced miss this year, is averaging just 1.8 yards after contact per attempt, and has more fumbles (three) than touchdowns (one). Spiller did make one play in the passing game — he showed a good burst to escape Milliner’s attempted tackle on a screen, coming up close to a first down.

Game Notes
-  The Jets’ corners allowed six of 11 targets to be complete for 140 yards, two touchdowns and two pass deflections.
-  The New York defense combined for a  13.8 grade against the run, only two players graded negatively in run defense.
-  Buffalo’s defensive backs had a combined five pressures in 15 rushes.

Game Ball

While the Bills’ defensive tackles were had very strong games, Jairus Byrd’s playmaking gets him the game ball.

Sports on Earth, Mike Tanier – Classifying all 32 NFL teams
Type VI: Bottom Feeders (Hymedesmia Paupertus)

Like simple organisms subsisting in a rapidly evaporating tidal pool, these teams filter feed for victories, prey upon one another and hope to evolve into something more sophisticated before the sand completely dries. Football Outsiders overall rank entering Week 11 provided.
Buffalo Bills (Overall rank: 25th)
Ticket Outta This Dump: Doug Marrone and EJ Manuel always look like they know what they are doing, which is often (but not always) a sign they know what they are doing.
Week 11 Update:
 The Jets have good weeks and bad weeks. Manuel has great weeks, so-so weeks and injured months. Marquise Goodwin has touchdown instants.

POWER RANKINGS

Bleacher Report, Mike Freeman – Grade = A
They turned four Geno Smith turnovers into 17 points. Quarterback EJ Manuel had two touchdowns despite missing two starting wide receivers (Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods). It was the kind of shocking win that makes the NFLso impossible to predict and fun to watch.

CBS Sports, Will Brinson – Grade = B
Efficient day for EJ Manuel when the Fred Jackson and C.J. Spillercouldn't get the running game going. The defense interceptedGeno Smith three times and sacked him four times.

CBS Sports, Pat Kirwan – No. 19
Doug Marone is a heck of a coach and talent evaluator. Like the Browns, they are a work in progress, though beating the Jets without their two best receivers and no running game was impressive.

Yahoo Sports, Frank Schwab – No. 21, up two
The Bills will play the Falcons, Buccaneers, Jaguars and Dolphins before finishing at New England, which could have its seed clinched by Week 17. Hmmmm ....

Pro Football Talk, Mike Florio –  No. 22, up five
22. Bills (4-7; No. 27):  With the next three opponents at 2-8, 2-8, and 1-9, the Bills could make things interesting down the stretch.

Sportsnet, Geoff Lowe – No. 22, down one
It’s hard to believe that was the same Bills team (minus its top receiver) that put up an absolute stinker in Pittsburgh last week. EJ Manuel was almost perfect, Buffalo’s young group of receivers shone once again and the defence absolutely ravaged Geno Smith. With a favourable schedule ahead, the Bills still have a shot at the playoffs.

Bleacher Report, Matt Miller – No. 24, up two
The Buffalo Bills rose to the challenge and put an absolute smackdown on the rival New York Jets in Week 11. That's a statement win for Doug Marrone's young team, especially when you consider it was without Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods. Other playmakers stepped up and performed.

Quarterback EJ Manuel played well against a very tough New York front seven, and when appropriate, he challenged a bad secondary by hitting fellow rookie Marquise Goodwin deep. Without his top two targets, Manuel improvised and found ways to make a play. Add in free safety Jairus Byrd's two interceptions, and it quickly become a blowout in Orchard Park.

The Bills move up in the rankings, and they're putting folks on notice that Manuel and the offense are dangerous.

USA Today – No. 25, up three
It's different team with QB EJ Manuel, who put up a 121.9 rating without WR Steve Johnson (groin).

ESPN.com – No. 25, up one
EJ Manuel's first pass against the blitz was swatted away by Muhammad Wilkerson. Then he went 8-for-8 for 111 yards and two touchdowns to finish the game.

CBS Sports, Pete Prisco – No. 25, up three
Beating the Jets the way they did was impressive. EJ Manuel did some good things. The defense did even more.

SB Nation, Jason Chilton – No. 25, up three
No Stevie Johnson or Robert Woods? No problem! Blazing rookie Marquise Goodwin and second-year man T.J. Graham provided enough pop to keep the passing game rolling, helping out E.J. Manuel on some flutterballs and logging a TD apiece. Safety Da'Norris Searcy got a touchdown of his own on a particularly poor Geno Smith toss. C.J. Spiller's massive faceplant has helped to hamstring the offense, but some building blocks are in place on both sides of the ball to bring some long-overdue hope for the future home to Buffalo. (Last Week: 28)

NFL.com, Elliot Harrison – No. 26, up one
Give it up for those Buffalo Bills, who got after Geno Smith and provided the offense and EJ Manuel-- who played well -- with good field position all day. That they finished with a turnover differential of plus-four was a testament to the play of both the offense and defense.

We'd like to see Buffalo finish strong, with winnable games coming up versus the Falcons,Buccaneers, Jaguars and Dolphins.