The New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills had very different offseasons. However, they seem to have more similarities than you might think. That fact was again on point in Buffalo’s comeback 17-16 win at MetLife Stadium, despite QB Josh Allen’s four first-half turnovers. While playmakers on both sides were held off by two solid defensive units, both of them also had their flashes of brilliance.
What was expected to be a showcase of two 2018 first-round picks turned into a defensive battle, with half of Jets’ scoring coming from a CJ Mosley pick six and a 3rd-quarter safety. Sam Darnold made it a two-possession game with a TD pass to Le’Veon Bell, also converting the two-pointer to the former Pittsburgh Steeler.
The performance of both young quarterbacks was heavily influenced by many other factors. First off, both defences were very impressive from start to finish for both teams. Darnold didn’t have the opportunity to show his stuff for much of the game as his offensive line looked like a big obstacle again. On the other end, a brilliant Mosley and a good front line, as well as awful receiving, played a part to Allen’s two interceptions.
Secondly, as the game progressed, both teams got their running game going. Frank Gore was poor at the start – that made for the early and convincing start to Devin Singletary’s career. The former Florida Atlantic running back carried the ball for 70 second-half yards. That was also the case with the star addition that was Bell for the Jets, who had 92 scrimmage yards. The two No. 26’s were one of the stories in New Jersey.
But the other story was a certain receiver who showed somewhat a difference of how efficient the two QBs were with their deep threats in the slot. Who else might I be talking about but John Brown. Brown, averaging exactly 17 yards per reception with the Ravens last season, was Allen’s hands down best receiver on the day with 143 yards and the game-winning 38-yard TD catch with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
Those are many factors that showcase a QB clash more as a clash between two teams whose aim is to have a balanced playbook and a good defence. But Allen’s connection with Brown even during his first-half struggles was a blessing and something that could transfer to such connections with Cole Beasley and Robert Foster and make for a complex passing game. Another important thing is how well both Darnold and Allen have improved their movement and footwork while in the pocket. That is very important in order not to kill big-gain plays.
Robby Anderson, who had just 3 catches for 23 yards, was supposed to be to Darnold what Brown was to Allen. He wasn’t, and that took a huge option away from Darnold. Jamison Crowder stepped up with 99 yards but he was targeted 17 times, 8 more than any other Jets receiver.
It was a pair of performances that can hardly make us jump to conclusions. But based strictly on their Week 1 work, Josh Allen and the Bills offence were the more efficient, and overcoming 4 turnovers shows that in the perfect light. Both teams have opponents coming up that struggled mightily defending the passing game and it will be interesting to see if they’ll show off as they’re expected against the Giants and the Browns.