Bills Coach Dick Jauron has had a hellish start in Buffalo so far this season.
Already a month into the season, the Jets voyage north to Buffalo to take on the winless Bills. Despite the the Bills' 0-3 record the Jets vow not to take this opponent lightly. The Jets know no matter what the Bills' record is, a win in Orchard Park is always tough.
The Jets 31-28 win against Miami was their best all around effort of season. Last week head coach Eric Mangini demanded his team put in a better effort in all facets of the game and that is exactly what they did. RB Thomas Jones made the running game a threat and the offensive line did a better job creating holes for Jones to run through and giving QB Chad Pennington enough time to make all his reads. The defense created a turnover and got pressure on the quarterback, while the special teams unit was able to control WR Ted Ginn in the return game and they even were able to put points on the scoreboard. When the Jets take the field against the Bills this Sunday, Gang Green will look to do the same things they did during last week’s win.
But one thing the Jets can’t do on Sunday is take Buffalo lightly. Even though they are 0-3 and their morale might not be high, the Jets feel like the Bills are team they should be worried about. Buffalo presents challenges in all three facets of the game, which means everybody on the Gang Green sideline will have their work cut out for them on Sunday.
“Look at the record of the teams they played against. It’s a combined 8-1. You just can’t say ‘look at their record’, you have to look at the teams that they have played. They have played against some excellent football teams,” said WR Laveranues Coles. “The stats and everything can be misleading about this team. We know we have a ballgame ahead of us.”
Pennington agreed with the sentiments of his favorite target.
“We understand that we’re not playing a 0-3 team. If you look at this team, their opponents are 8-1, combined. We’re playing a team that plays extremely tough at home,” Pennington said. “It’s so important to win these division games. You only have so many and your division record is so important.”
On Sunday, Buffalo, who ranks last in the league in total offense, will have a quarterback making his first career NFL start. Third round pick and Stanford alum Trent Edwards will make his first NFL start on Sunday and that is something that worries the Jets defense.
“You don’t know what to expect. You can only go off of what he did in the preseason and what he did against New England,” said Jets LB Jonathan Vilma. “He is going to have different characteristics, different strengths and weaknesses.”
Edwards connected on 10 of 20 passing for 97 yards and was intercepted once during his relief effort of Bills injured QB J.P. Losman in the Bills week three loss to the Patriots.
But Edwards will have some weapons around him. First round pick RB Marshawn Lynch has looked good running the ball this season and with the Jets problems defending the screen pass last week, it’s pretty much confirmed that Bills head coach Dick Jauron will call for screen passes toward Lynch’s way.
But along with Lynch in the backfield, the Jets have to be worried about the Bills wide receivers. WR Lee Evans has gotten off to slow start this year, but last he owned the Jets. Evans caught 10 passes against Gang Green for 198 yards and one touchdown in two games. But along with keeping their eyes on Evans, the Jets defensive backs will also have make sure they know where WR’s Roscoe Parrish and Josh Reed. Both have the ability to turn short passes into big plays.
Defensively for Buffalo their strength is the defensive line. Pro-Bowl defensive end Aaron Schobel and DE Chris Kelsay will look to keep Pennington under constant pressure all game. Last time these two teams met, Schobel had three sacks in the same game. Since 2003, Schobel is second in the NFL in sacks with 47. The leader is Miami Dolphins DE Jason Taylor, the same Taylor that the Jets shut down last week.
“We have to be aware of where he is at all times. Just when you think you have him handled, you don't, and he's making plays,” Pennington said. “He does an excellent job of stripping the quarterback, so it's crucial that with myself that I maintain ball security and don't give him opportunities to swat the ball away and create turnovers for them.”
If the Jets offensive can win the battle up front, Pennington should be able to pick apart the Bills young and inexperience defense. Buffalo is missing many regulars most notably promising rookie LB Paul Posluszny. Also starters CB Jason Webster, S Ko Simpson and LB Keith Ellison will miss the game due to injuries. Ellison’s backup Coy Wire won’t play either.
Their is a possiblity that this game could come down to a special teams play. And so far this season the Jets special teams has been hit or miss. Jets special teams has had it highlights early on this season (Leon Washington’s 98 yard kickoff return), but they have also had their lowlights (Ellis Hobbs 108 yard kickoff return). The Jets will need a consistent effort from its special teams, because Buffalo’s special team are one of the special teams unit in the NFL.
Returners and Terrance McGee and Roscoe Parrish are as dangerous any returners the Jets have seen this season. Parrish took punt back in their opener against Denver and McGee had electric 63-yard return in their loss to the Steelers.
“They are a damn good special teams unit and they got the numbers to prove it,” said special teams captain Brad Kassell. “You look at their return guys, you look at their core guys, punters and kickers, all around they are solid.”
Bottom Line : There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Jets are the better football team right now. Even though everybody in the organization says the Bills will be a challenge, but realistically they know that this is a game they must win and should win. The Bills are an injury riddled team who are forced to have a rookie QB make his first career NFL start. If the Jets offensive line can stop Schobel and Kelsay from getting to Pennington, he should be able to pick apart a injury riddled defense and good things should happen for Gang Green. Prediction: Jets 31-Bills 17.
Harder Than It Looks
Playing football games in Buffalo is harder than it looks according to some Jets players. For starters the weather in Buffalo is harder to prepare for than the game itself. The weather could be sunny and 80 degrees one week and another week it could be snowy and 20 degrees. Also the crowd in Buffalo is always in the game despite the record of there team.
“Orchard Park is one of the toughest places that I’ve ever played in. The crowd is always into the game no matter how the Bills are playing and no matter what their record is,” said Jets safety Kerry Rhodes.
WR Laveranues Coles agreed with Rhodes. “The energy in Ralph Wilson Stadium, they way the players play with passion always makes for a great ball game when we play Buffalo,” said Coles.
This will be the 93RD meeting between these two teams. Buffalo leads the regular season series with a 50-42 record.
Upcoming Milestones for the Jets
TE Chris Baker needs 63 more receiving yards for 1,000 career yards…LB Eric Barton need 3 more tackles for 600 career tackles…Coles needs 4 receptions to pass Brett Perriman for 81st on the all-time receptions list…DE Shaun Ellis needs 3.5 sacks to pass Mo Lewis for 5th all-time on the Jets sacks list…RB Thomas Jones needs 69 yards to pass Greg Pruitt for 76TH all-time…QB Chad Pennington needs 234 passing yards and 2 touchdown passes to pass Vinny Testaverde in both categories. Pennington would move to 4th on the Jets all-time passing yards list and touchdown passes list.
New York Jets
Full participation in practice
FB Darian Barnes (shoulder), CB David Barrett (thigh), LB David Bowens (hand), RB Thomas Jones (calf), TE Joe Kowalewski (shoulder), DT Sione Pouha (foot)
Limited participation in practice
WR Jerricho Cotchery (shoulder), CB Andre Dyson (foot), G Brandon Moore (shoulder), QB Chad Pennington (ankle), DT Dewayne Robertson (knee), S Eric Smith (thigh)
Did not participate in practice
LB Cody Spencer (illness)
Full participation in practice
WR Sam Aiken (groin), CB Terrence McGee (ribs)
Did not participate in practice
QB J.P. Losman (knee)
LB Paul Posluszny (LB), G Jason Whittle (hamstring), DE Ryan Denney (foot), LB Keith Ellison (ankle), LB Coy Wire (knee).
Game time is at 1:00PM on Sunday, local TV on CBS 2 and local radio on 1050 ESPN radio and WCRN 104.3 on Long Island. Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com after the game for a complete recap!
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