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Scouting Report - Week 3

Posted Sep 20, 2013

A preview of the Bills-Jets game at MetLife Stadium

Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Stevie Johnson vs. Antonio Cromartie –
It’s no longer the matchup with Revis, but Cromartie is a long-limbed, veteran corner with great athletic ability. He also takes risks, which could lead to some big plays for him or for Buffalo’s top wideout.

2 – Kraig Urbik vs. Muhammad Wilkerson – Arguably the best defensive player on the team, Wilkerson is a disruptive force up front and Urbik will need to mirror him effectively to keep him from making plays in Buffalo’s offensive backfield.

3 – Nickell Robey vs. Jeremy Kerley – With New York’s top slot receiver expected to be back in the lineup this week (concussion), the undrafted rookie will have his hands full knowing how shifty Kerley can be before and after the catch.

Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Pass rush –
In Mike Pettine’s scheme, the Bills talented defensive line is producing. Coming off a six sack performance last week, Buffalo is facing a rookie QB in Geno Smith, who has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long at times.

Best advantage – Run game – The Bills’ two-pronged ground attack of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson is decidedly better than what the Jets have to offer in their offensive backfield. Even though the Jets run front has been stout through the first two weeks, Spiller is averaging 162.5 yards from scrimmage in his last two meetings with the Jets.

Bills Number 1 Must
Third down conversions –
The Bills improved their third down efficiency last week converting on 43 percent of their opportunities (6-14), but they face a top five third down defense in the Jets. New York opponents are converting just over 29 percent of their third downs (29.4%).

Scouting Eye
Attacking rookie QBs
Bills QB EJ Manuel has not faced many blitz situations when he’s dropped back to pass the first two weeks. That could change Sunday against the Jets. Rex Ryan, who is 5-2 against rookie QBs is typically aggressive with young signal callers, but it will be interesting to see if he chooses to blitz Manuel. That’s because Buffalo’s quarterback has the sixth-highest passer rating against the blitz in the league with a mark of 129.7.

No fly zone
Truth be told the Jets may not need to blitz. They have three sacks in their first two games, but their completion percentage allowed is the lowest in the league. New York’s defense is allowing a completion percentage of just 48.6 percent as they held both Josh Freeman (TB) and Tom Brady (NE) to less than 50 percent completion rates in the first two weeks.

Kerley boost
The Jets are expected to have one of their best offensive weapons back in the lineup this week. Slot receiver and punt returner Jeremy Kerley is expected to return to action on Sunday after missing New York’s Week 2 game at New England. Kerley suffered a concussion in Week 1 against Tampa Bay.

In 2012 Kerley led the team in receptions (56), receiving yards (827), yards per reception (14.8) and plays of 40-plus yards (6). In the season opener last year against the Bills, Kerley had a 12-yard touchdown reception and a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Cover concerns
The retirement of long time special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff has led to his longtime assistant assuming the post in Ben Kotwica. It’s only been two games, but the Jets cover teams are not off to a sparkling start. New York currently ranks 27th in punt and kick coverage. Opponents are averaging almost 12 yards per punt return (11.9) and better than 29 yards per kick return (29.3). There could finally be some opportunities for Leodis McKelvin and Marcus Easley.

Pass protection?
Through two games Geno Smith has been under duress a good deal. He’s been sacked nine times, partly due to his own tendency to hold onto the ball. That’s fourth-most in the league. He’s also been hit another 17 times in the first two games. So on 74 total drop backs this season, Smith has been pressured 26 times or more than once every three drop backs (35.1%).

Run down
The Jets have been solid against the run for the better part of the last four years. In 2012 they slipped badly to 26th in the league against the run. They’ve rebounded nicely in the early stages of 2013. Facing a 1,400-plus yard rusher in Doug Martin in Week 1 they held him to 65 yards on 24 carries. New England’s Stevan Ridley was similarly neutralized managing just 40 yards on 16 carries. The Jets are allowing less than 60 yards rushing per game (59.5).

Buffalo Chips
Quote of the Week

“I’d be a liar if said this game didn’t mean more to me or I didn’t want to win it. Coaches in the NFL I think are born with a competitive gene, a hyper competitive gene and you want to win at everything.”
--Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine

Stat of the Week
Since 2010 the Bills have averaged 4.52 yards per rush against the Jets (141-637, 3 TDs).

Milestones in reach
Fred Jackson needs 118 rushing yards to pass Joe Cribbs (4,445) for third-place on the Bills all-time list.

Stevie Johnson needs one touchdown reception to record one in each of his first three games of the season for the third straight year.

Mario Williams needs two sacks for 70 in his career.

Final note
The Bills rank fourth in the league in red zone touchdown percentage (80%) having converted four of their first five opportunities this season.