New York Jets: 2013 Week 11 NYJ at BUF

Jets lose because of QB, not D&B

November, 17, 2013

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- There's no truth to the rumor that Geno Smith was so bad at skee ball that he was replaced by Matt Simms.

Now, seriously: The New York Jets weren't blown out Sunday by the Buffalo Bills because they spent a couple of hours Saturday afternoon at a Dave & Buster's in a Buffalo suburb -- a team field trip that has garnered far too much attention. No, the Jets lost 37-14 because Smith was terrible, continuing a five-game regression that could blow up their playoff chances.

The scary part for the Jets is they have no viable alternative at quarterback. Simms is too inexperienced, and David Garrard has been in moth balls too long, leaving them little choice: It's Geno or bust for the homestretch. That can't be too comforting for Rex Ryan, whose job could hinge on his rookie.

"Just bad, man," Smith said after his second four-turnover game of the season. "The way I can sum this game up for myself is awful. I know I can play better. I know this isn't who I am or who I want to be."

This was reminiscent of the Jets' Week 4 loss in Tennessee, in which Smith was rattled early, lost his composure and never recovered. He was positively skittish against blitz-minded Buffalo, throwing more passes to the Bills (three interceptions) than he did to any one of his own wide receivers. He was pulled early in the fourth quarter, when it was 34-7.

In skee ball, you get 10 points for a bad roll. Against the Bills, Smith rolled a 10.1 -- his passer rating. It was the lowest rating by a Jets starter since Mark Sanchez's 8.3 in 2009, his five-interception rookie debacle against the Bills.

Smith was every bit as bad in this game, serving up 17 points to the Bills with his turnovers. He completed only 8 of 23 passes for 103 yards on the same day fellow rookie EJ Manuel resembled Jim Kelly. Manuel produced a 121.9 rating, shredding a secondary that was supposed to be improved with the addition of safety Ed Reed.

Smith's may have been the worst quarterback performance of the season -- anywhere. His QBR was 0.7 (on a scale of 100), the lowest for a quarterback in 2013, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"I hate to use the word 'growing pains,' but that's exactly what it is with me," said Smith, whose turnover total ballooned 20, including 16 interceptions. "I know in this situation, with this team, we can't have that."

Even though they're allergic to winning streaks, the Jets (5-5) remain in the chase for the second wild-card spot in the AFC. But they're contention is spite of Smith, whose performance over past five games has been far south of mediocre -- only one touchdown pass and eight interceptions.

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith and Manny Lawson
Kellen Micah/Icon SMIGeno Smith lost a fumble, in addition to his three interceptions, raising his turnover total to 20.
Smith will start next week against the Baltimore Ravens, according to Ryan, who softened his evaluation of the rookie by saying he was victimized by poor pass protection.

"With our protection, you could've had Joe Namath back there and I don't think it would've mattered," Ryan said.

Actually, Namath probably would've played better -- and he's 70 years old.

Smith passed for a season-high 331 yards against the Bills in Week 3, but this was a different Buffalo defense. This time, the secondary was healthy and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine -- Ryan's former right-hand man -- went after Smith with a barrage of blitzes. Against five or more rushers, he threw two interceptions and was sacked four times, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Safety Jairus Byrd, playing like a young Reed, made Smith look silly, intercepting him twice. He also was picked off by safety Da'Norris Searcy, who returned it 32 yards for a touchdown -- Smith's fourth pick-six of the season.

At least there wasn't a Behind-the-Butt Fumble.

Smith is a big problem, but he's not the Jets' only problem. They can't handle success. They became the first team in NFL history to alternate wins and losses through its first 10 games. That shows a lack of maturity.

This was the classic letdown. For two weeks, they were showered with praise, enjoying the glow of their win over the New Orleans Saints. The Jets acted as if they had arrived. Ryan fueled the perception last week, expressing his surprise that the Bills were favored. That, more than his pre-planned trip to Dave & Buster's, was a slight toward the Bills.

Naturally, Ryan will get ripped for the field trip. He canceled offensive and defensive meetings Saturday afternoon, hoping to shake up their routine after dropping three of their first four on the road. The Bills were aware of the Dave & Buster's respite, but they wouldn't admit it was a source of motivation. Good for them; it would've been high-schoolish for them to admit it was.

This game wasn't about a couple of hours at an arcade. This game was Geno & Busted. The Jets have a quarterback problem. They're getting no production out of the position, and they have to figure out a way to coach around Smith, who still has the support of teammates.

"My confidence level is high," guard Willie Colon said. "I'm going to ride with Geno until the end."

The Jets have no choice.

Did Jets pick bad time for field trip?

November, 17, 2013
ORCHARD PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets collectively scoffed at the notion that Saturday's team trip to a Dave & Busters in suburban Buffalo fueled the Buffalo Bills with added incentive.

"I don't know why that's added motivation," Rex Ryan said after the 37-14 loss Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium. "We do different things when we're on the road. We did different things in Atlanta, did different things wherever, so I don't know how that would give added motivation. Your players go out in groups or whatever. We went out as a team."

After dropping three of their first four on the road, Ryan decided to shake up the travel routine. Instead of afternoon offensive and defensive meetings at the team hotel, they traveled by bus to a nearby Dave & Busters. They returned to the hotel in time for the evening team meeting. Team trips happen a lot in training camp; it's unusual during the regular season.

"The fact is, we haven't been doing well on the road and you have to try different things to figure it out," tackle Austin Howard said. "I applaud Rex for trying to do something different, trying to figure out why we haven't been doing as well on the road as we have at home."

Guard Willie Colon said, "Rex wants us to stay together and we're trying to build team camaraderie. Rex wants to break the monotony of us being on the road and he wants guys to get to know each other. It was a team-bonding moment, that's all it was."

But the Jets were sensitive about the trip and didn't want it to become public, perhaps fearing it would create the perception they were taking the Bills lightly. It was first reported by the New York Post. On Saturday night, a team spokesman refused to confirm or deny the trip.

The Bills could've perceived it as a slight. Coach Doug Marrone said he was aware of it, but claimed he never mentioned it to his team until after the game. Several players said they had heard about it before the game. Bills wide receiver T.J. Graham said they do similar things on the road.

"We go out before games when we travel," Graham said. "Anytime you can travel to a new city and do something different, (it's OK). There's a time for work and there's a time for play. If you have time off, you get to free your mind. No disrespect on that one."

Graham said his initial thought was "it was kind of lighthearted and they kind of took it easy (Saturday) night, but it's not disrespectful. They tried to free up their minds and get away from the game."

The Jets (5-5) have other problems, mainly a lack of consistency. They became the first team in history to alternate wins and losses through its first 10 games.

"We're running out of time," Colon said. "However we want the season to end, we have to turn it around now."

Wide receiver David Nelson attributed the up and down nature to "a lack of maturity. We have to grow up, especially on the road. It seems like whenever we're on the road, our intensity drops off."

The Jets are 1-4 on the road, including losses by 25, 40 and 23 points. The bad news is, they still have three away games, starting Sunday at the Baltimore Ravens.

With Holmes back, Jets still flat

November, 17, 2013
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Santonio Holmes provided a spark to the New York Jets on Sunday in his return from injury.

That spark, however, failed to ignite the Jets’ offense.

Having missed the last five games with a strained hamstring, Holmes was healthy enough to start and finish the Jets' 37-14 loss at Buffalo.

[+] EnlargeSantonio Holmes
AP Photo/Gary WiepertSantonio Holmes, who returned on Sunday from a hamstring injury, caught two passes for 71 yards.
Holmes was targeted a team-high eight times and hauled in two long receptions totaling 71 yards.

“I felt good enough to get out there and help my team try to win the ballgame,” Holmes said.

Holmes made an early impact, adjusting to catch an underthrown Geno Smith pass and gain 33 yards on the Jets' second drive, which resulted in a missed field goal attempt.

"The quarterback gave me an opportunity to make a play and that’s what we always preach in film room and practice," Holmes said. "He gave me an opportunity to make a play, the DB lost the ball, and I did a good job tracking it down."

Holmes also made a 38-yard reception on the Jets' third-quarter touchdown drive and appeared to make a 15-yard reception for a first down in the second quarter, but the catch was overruled on replay.

"I think I got under it," Holmes said. "Obviously, he saw something different on the replay and overruled it."

Jets coach Rex Ryan said Holmes played "pretty well," but the Jets were limited in how they could use him. "Hopefully he'll be able to get more involved as we move forward," Ryan said.

Holmes and Smith are still trying to develop chemistry. For the season, Holmes has caught just 12 of the 32 passes thrown his way, and Holmes was the intended receiver on two of Smith's three interceptions Sunday.

Bills safety Da'Norris Searcy said Holmes' pre-snap motion tipped him off on a third-quarter pass Searcy intercepted and returned for a touchdown.

"I saw the type of formation they were in and once Holmes motioned out, I thought they might be trying to run a jailbreak screen," Searcy said. "So when he did the hard play fake. I just drifted out and he threw it right to me."

Reed unable to fill holes in Jets' secondary

November, 17, 2013
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The New York Jets signed All-Pro safety Ed Reed this past week to shore up a secondary that had been gashed by deep passes through the first nine games.

Reed started Sunday’s game at Buffalo after only two practices with the Jets, and played all but two of the Bills’ meaningful offensive plays. But Reed’s presence didn’t prevent the Bills from attacking the Jets' secondary -- which had allowed eight passes of 45 yards or more in the first nine weeks -- through the air in their 37-14 victory.

[+] EnlargeMarquise Goodwin, Antonio Cromartie and Ed Reed
Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY SportsEd Reed took a wrong step and could not recover to prevent Marquise Goodwin's TD catch for the Bills.
Bills quarterback EJ Manuel threw touchdown passes of 34 and 43 yards while Reed was on the field, and completed a 40-yard bomb on one of the few snaps Reed was relieved by Jaiquawn Jarrett. Manuel completed another 40-yard pass to receiver T.J. Graham while Reed stood on the sideline.

Reed blitzed on the Bills’ second-quarter touchdown, leaving the Jets without a deep safety on the play. Reed got to Manuel just as he was releasing the pass that got caught up in the wind and fell 6 yards short of the end zone. But the trajectory of the ball allowed Graham to break off his route and gain separation from Jets rookie cornerback Dee Milliner, who was pivoting at the goal line as Graham ran by him for the score.

On Marquise Goodwin’s 43-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, Reed took a step in the opposite direction before Manuel threw his pass down the right sideline, and Reed could not run over in time to help cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

“It was a quick snap and he pretty much just threw it up and let it fly,” Reed said. “I think the wind calmed down on that particular play because the ball was carrying all day and on that play it didn’t carry.”

Reed, who was released by the Houston Texans on Tuesday, said his familiarity with Rex Ryan’s defense allowed him to step into the Jets’ lineup with limited preparation. Playing alongside former Baltimore Ravens teammate Dawan Landry also helped, Reed said. Landry was still giving Reed pointers in the locker room after the game.

“Dawan Landry and those guys helped me out a bit because we communicate so well on defense,” Reed said. “We’ve just got to communicate better, and that’s going to happen.”

Landry said the Jets did not have to modify the game plan to accommodate Reed, and Ryan said he did not believe the Jets rushed Reed into full-time duty.

“Ed is a phenomenal player. You expect him to come out and play Ed Reed-style football,” Landry said. “He’s one of the smartest players to ever play this game and he picked up right where he left off.”

Added Ryan: “I don’t think Ed Reed was a problem. They never threw it over Ed’s side on the deep ball, so I don’t believe that was the case.”

Cromartie said the Bills took fewer shots down the field Sunday than they did when the two teams met in Week 3.

Reed was away from the action on most running plays, but did break through to bring Graham down for a 3-yard loss on a reverse.

After the game, Reed was asked why he didn’t sign with a team that has a more stable quarterback situation than the Jets, who benched rookie quarterback Geno Smith after he committed four turnovers.

“That decision is already made,” Reed said. “I’m here. I’m comfortable with the decision I made. I’m comfortable with the scheme, and that’s all the difference in the world.”

Rex: Geno Smith will start next week

November, 17, 2013
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Despite four turnovers and a season-low 10.1 passer rating, Geno Smith will remain the New York Jets' starting quarterback next Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, according to Rex Ryan.

Ryan delivered a lukewarm endorsement after the Jets' 37-14 loss Sunday to the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

"We'll look at everything as we go, but again, but I don't think it's fair to place it on one man," Ryan said. "We have to take a hard look at what we're doing, but I would say Geno is our starting quarterback against Baltimore next week."

Ryan's patience has to be wearing thin.

Smith was intercepted three times, the last of which was returned for a touchdown by safety Da'Norris Searcy. Smith also lost a fumble deep in his own territory. His four turnovers led to 17 points by the Bills, who harrassed the rookie throughout the day with their pressure schemes.

Smith completed only 8 of 23 passes for 103 yards. He was sacked four times.

The negative numbers are growing larger and uglier. Smith has 20 turnovers, including 16 interceptions.

"Just bad, man," Smith said. "The way I can sum up this game for myself is awful. I know I can play better. I know this isn't who I am or who I want to be."

Smith was benched early in the fourth quarter, replaced by Matt Simms. It was the second straight loss in which Smith finished the game on the bench. Simms completed 4 of 6 passes for 60 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland.

Rapid Reaction: New York Jets

November, 17, 2013

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A few thoughts on the New York Jets' 37-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills:

What it means: The maddeningly inconsistent Jets (5-5) became the first team in NFL history to alternate wins and losses through its first 10 games. Coming off a feel-good bye week, following their upset of the New Orleans Saints, the Jets were flat and perhaps overconfident. They proved once again that they lack the maturity to handle success and, now, expectations. This was their third blowout loss. In their last two defeats, they've lost by a total of 63 points. That shouldn't happen to a team that fancies itself a legitimate playoff contender. Much will be made of the Jets' team trip Saturday afternoon to a Dave & Busters in the Buffalo area. That's not the reason they lost, but it sent a bad message.

Stock watch: The Jets have a quarterback problem. Geno Smith was brutal, committing four turnovers. That makes 20 for the season. Rattled by the Bills' pass rush, he threw his 14th, 15th and 16th interceptions, including his fourth pick-six of the season. He completed only 8 of 23 passes for 103 yards and a season-low passer rating of 10.1. The windy conditions were tough, but it didn't stop EJ Manuel from picking apart the Jets' defense. Smith was replaced by Matt Simms early in the fourth quarter. It's not time to bench Smith, but he has to be on a short leash. The Jets can't live with his rookie mistakes, not in a playoff push. In his last five games, Smith has one touchdown pass and eight interceptions. His body language suggests his confidence is shot, and the coaches' confidence in him is waning, judging by the conservative game plan. Not even the return of Santonio Holmes and Kellen Winslow helped.

Reed all about it: The Jets signed future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed, in large part, to help them solve their problems defending the deep ball. It didn't work against Manuel, who threw touchdown passes of 34 and 43 yards. That has to be troubling for the Jets because the Bills aren't known for their vertical passing, and they played without two of their top receivers, Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods. Reed, who started and played all but two snaps, blitzed on the first scoring pass. The Jets played "zero" coverage, meaning no deep safety, allowing T.J. Graham to adjust to an underthrown pass that got caught up in the wind and fooled Dee Milliner. On the second touchdown, Reed was late in providing deep help for Antonio Cromartie, who was torched by speedster Marquise Goodwin.

What's ahead: The Jets are on the road again, facing the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 24.

Halftime: Pathetic start for Jets

November, 17, 2013
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The New York Jets trail the Buffalo Bills at the half, 20-0:

1. A flat effort: The Jets looked lifeless in the first 30 minutes, outgained by the Bills, 141-57. Under Rex Ryan, the Jets usually struggle after the bye week -- a 1-3 record. They couldn't get their running game started, they couldn't protect Geno Smith, they committed a dumb penalty on a punt, and their defense allowed long drives. Remember, the Bills are playing without their top receiver, Stevie Johnson. This was predictable. The Jets are an up-and-down, and this was their "down" week. They could become the first team in NFL history to alternate wins and losses for the first 10 games.

2. Oh, no, Geno: Smith was drilled by Marcell Dareus on the fourth play of the game (it looked like he had the wind knocked out of him) and he never found a rhythm. Smith went out for a play. He lost a fumble on a strip sack and threw an interception on a play in which he never saw Jairus Byrd as the single-high safety. This was regression for Smith, who now has 18 turnovers. This had a Tennessee kind of feel, because he seems rattled by the Bills' pass rush. Smith is 3-for-9 for 44 yards, including an underthrown, 33-yard completion to Santonio Holmes that caught up in the wind.

3. Ed Reed starts: In a surprise, newly signed safety Ed Reed started the game and played every snap in the first half. He was involved in one key play. On EJ Manuel's 34-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Graham, Reed blitzed and hit Manuel. The Jets were in zero coverage, meaning no deep safety. Manuel's pass was a floater, but he adjusted. Cornerback Dee Milliner, in coverage, didn't. If Reed had been in his usual centerfield position, it could've been picked off.