After the unfortunate finish to the Bills/Jets game, we hightailed it from Planet Hollywood to the hotel near our airport, so this is the first I’ve had to publish my “immediate” thoughts. Excuse any misconceptions provided by the adjective.
– I know he’s a colorful character and believe me I loved his “Plaxico shot himself in the leg” touchdown celebration as much if not more than most, but Stevie Johnson’s late-game drop of a would-be big play is disturbing. On one hand, you want to high-five No. 13 for having a wonderfully-successful day against Darrelle Revis, but that’s what No. 1 wide-outs are supposed to do: beat their best with your best.
Did Fitz throw it too hard? Argh. With a team crushed by injuries — especially at receiver where they are down to their Nos. 1 & 5 from the start of training camp — Johnson needs to come up with that ball. I’ve defended guys like Terrell Owens in the past: you have to be thrown a lot of balls to drop them, but Johnson was given a chance to put his team right back into the thick of an open playoff picture. He didn’t. I don’t care if he owned up to it. A lot of guys can own up to dropping a ball. They won’t get paid superstar money.
– Ryan Fitzpatrick played well enough to win the ball game. He didn’t turn the ball over to a good secondary, he consistently found the open man and he tossed three touchdown passes. It’s a shame this one falls on his W-L record. He wasn’t dynamite, but he doesn’t figure in the top 20 reasons the Bills lost. He made his makeshift line look better in the pocket and was notably more accurate on the run this week.
– CJ Spiller showed signs that he can be a No. 1 back at this level by being much more decisive in his hole selection and when to employ his burst, but he is still very far from a good product. He needs to watch tape of Fred Jackson in the pass game to learn how to make dump-offs from his QB into something and needs to develop more strength to drive through contact.
– Big fan of the production the Bills have received from Scott Chandler as a receiver, who was solid again today, but Dustin Keller is next level good. The Jets tight end opens up so much more space for his fellow catchers.
– You’ll notice I said “as a receiver.” Chandler was destroyed by edge rusher Aaron Maybin today, and Maybin is a one move rusher. I get sick watching him succeed. If the Bills had more depth on defense, maybe they would’ve kept a guy for clear passing downs whose only job is “Go get him.”
– Dave Rayner… squib kick. Learn it. You’ve only played for 900 teams. It took me a long time to deem it a screw-up, but none of the other players on his unit looked like it was part of the plan to recover an onside attempt. He did sing a redemption song by giving the Bills their short-lived 24-21 fourth-quarter lead and that deserves to be lauded.
Stat line I liked…
Justin Rogers, three tackles, one pass defended
– Nice work for the rookie. What’s especially impressive is that his break-up came with terrific make-up speed off a mistake. He’ll be a player to monitor.
Stat line I didn’t like…
Jets rushers, 23 carries, 138 yards
— The only thing that kept the Bills in the ball game was Bryan Schottenheimer’s refusal to run the ball against a porous rush defense. New York didn’t gash the Bills for hundreds of yards, but they did average six yards a rip.
– Barnett lead the team in tackles with eight. Six were solo and I thought his presence on some big downs showed well for the veteran backer. Maybe his best game for Buffalo?
CATCH THE BALL, STEVIE.
Home to Tennessee. Honestly, the Bills win this game and you’re looking at three extremely winnable games before closing the season at New England. With the Titans at 6-5, it’s essentially an elimination game. The Titans defense is pretty good and presents more of a challenge to the Bills offense than the other way around. I like Tennessee, 25-18.