EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Some observations from the Bills’ disappointing 27-20 loss to the Jets on Sunday evening at Met Life Stadium:
— His outsized ego notwithstanding, New York coach Rex Ryan is quick to emphasize that as well-conceived as his trademark defense might be, “It’s the players who make it work.”
In other words, schemes don’t win games ... those who perform in them do.
And that reality was on display against Buffalo.
Clearly, the Jets have more talented defenders than the Bills, especially in the secondary where Buffalo is literally hurting, missing three starters and a key sub.
And even though Mike Pettine, the Bills’ defensive coordinator and once Ryan’s star pupil, employs the same scheme, the results were hardly the same.
The Jets hounded and harassed Buffalo’s rookie quarterback, EJ Manuel, sacking him eight times and hitting him on 16 other occasions.
By contrast, the Bills never dumped New York’s rookie QB, Geno Smith, and only got a hand on him twice.
Thus freed of pressure, Smith guided his offense to 513 yards, the most in Ryan’s tenure with the Jets.
That’s how a team that commits 20 penalties and loses the giveaway/takeaway battle, 2-0, manages to win the game.
Still, afterward, Ryan was gracious about Pettine.
“Mike is a heckuva football coach,” he said. “Sometimes things (like Buffalo’s defensive breakdown) happen ... you give up big plays (69- and 51-yard touchdown passes) and that number happens.
“Obviously, I’d much rather be on this end than that end (of the score). But he’s an excellent coach and when they get a couple of their defensive players back, they’re going to be tough.”
YEAH, THE quarterback gets too much credit when a team wins and too much blame when it loses, but it seems to me that Manuel is being assessed too much responsibility for this loss.
Yeah, he completed only 19 of 42 passes, but the Jets have made an industry of holding opposing QBs under 50 percent.
And keep in mind the pressure aspect of that performance.
Manuel dropped back to pass 50 times on Sunday, was sacked eight times and hit on 16 occasions. In short, nearly half the time, he at least took a blow while trying to throw.
Plus, he got no help from the running game.
The Bills averaged nearly five yards per carry (25 for 120 yards), but take away a 59-yard run by Fred Jackson, thanks to a premature celebration by the Jets, and they had 61 on 24 carries, or 2.5 per try.
No help on the ground, persistent pressure in the passing game, and a QB playing his third game as a pro ... not exactly the recipe for success, nor all Manuel’s fault.
SPEAKING of the running game ... what’s up with C.J. Spiller?
His fourth season was supposed to be a monster.
But against the Jets, he had 10 carries for nine yards before leaving with a minor knee injury.
In three games, Spiller’s totals are 153 yards on 43 attempts (3.6 per try) with no touchdowns plus nine receptions for 40 yards ... hardly elite numbers.
Meanwhile, Jackson is averaging over five yards per carry and more than eight per reception.
Some would argue that on pure numbers, Jackson deserves more touches ... at least until Spiller figures out that he needn’t try to turn every carry into a touchdown. Too often he has a 4-yard run become a 2-yard loss in an attempt to break a long one.
IT MIGHT be time to be concerned about the Bills’ offensive line, though, in fairness, Manuel was sacked only once and hit eight times total, in the first two games.
But the Jets, admittedly one of the NFL’s elite defenses, raised some questions about Buffalo’s front. Center Eric Wood and left tackle Cordy Glenn are quality players, but the right side, guard Kraig Urbik and Erik Pears, is pedestrian and Colin Brown is a desperation, substandard replacement for the departed Andy Levitre.
Collectively, this unit is average at best.
THERE WAS an awkward moment late in Sunday’s game as the Jets were trying to run out the clock.
Buffalo defensive end Alex Carrington went down and the Met Life Stadium crowd immediately stared booing, assuming he was feigning an injury, trying to stop the clock and let his unit regroup. That’s an all-too-common ploy in today’s NFL, mostly to slow the accelerated pace of no-huddle offenses.
Carrington, though, wasn’t faking and was removed from the field via cart.
And Monday it was revealed he suffered a torn quadriceps muscle and is out for the season.
(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com)