Predictable and frustrating.
It can be two words that described the Jets’ performance in their opening-day, 21-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
On offense, the Jets’ running game was grounded and their passing game was limited to a dink-and-dunk afternoon. They mustered only 38 yards on the ground and two first downs rushing, while 26 completions netted only 176 yards through the air. As a result, the Jets couldn’t sustain long drives and their defense wore down, especially after being on the field nearly 11 minutes in the first quarter.
A light offense with a handful of field goals for each game was a prediction by many. The Jets didn’t disappoint on the field goal front as Chandler Catanzaro booted a pair of them.
Defensively, the Jets came out flat and Buffalo initially looked like they were on their way to a 30-plus point effort. The Bills, the league’s top rushing team the past two years, ran for 190 yards on the ground and coupled that with 218 in the air for 408 yards of total offense. LeSean McCoy ran for 110 yards and fullback Mike Tolbert was the perfect complement as he bullied his way for 42 yards and a touchdown.
It wasn’t the type of effort expected from Jets’ unit that is expected to carry the team. The Jets allowed 91 yards rushing per game last season.
Still, the Jets had the opportunity to tie the game at 14, but they failed on a two-point conversion on Josh McCown’s one-yard plunge that capped a nice 11-play, 75-yard drive. Problem was, they needed more of those.
Here’s a look at some of the takeaways from the game:
RUNNING BACKS: The Jets’ offensive line had trouble opening holes, and Matt Forte has trouble finding some. Forte was used as a receiver out of the backfield, but he dropped two passes in the opening half.
Bilal Powell finally got into the action in the second quarter and he finished with a modest 22 yards on seven carries. But Powell was more effective catching passes out of the backfield as he caught five for 17 yards. The Jets had only 15 carries as a team and they will need more production here.
RECEIVERS: Jermaine Kearse made his Jets’ debut and he had a team-high seven grabs for 59 yards, his longest being an 18-yarder. Kearse looked like he could be the threat the team has been seeking.
Jeremy Kerley was back, but he didn’t have a catch and looked like he was still getting used to the system.
Another bright spot were the tight ends. Eric Tomlinson had a 25-ayard catch and run and ex-Giant Will Tye was effective with three catches for 34 yards, one a 21-yarder. Once Austin Sefarian-Jenkins returns from his suspension, the trio could create some havoc.
LINEBACKERS AND LINEMEN: The linebacking corps had some rough spots, especially early in the game. They were often caught out of place and hitting the wrong gaps, opening holes for the Bills’ runners as well as their receivers.
Head coach Todd Bowles spoke about “missed assignments” in his postgame conference and referred to veterans, not just rookies. It became evident Bowles was speaking about his linebackers and linemen up front.
Still, Demarion Davis (14) and Darron Lee (10) had double-digit tackles. Lee had a sack, and Davis and fellow backer Josh Martin combined on one.
Muhammed Wilkerson batted a pass down in the opening quarter, but he faded in each passing quarter. Ex-Patriot Kony Ealy was disruptive in his role as a pass rusher and Mike Pennel plugged some holes along the line.
SECONDARY: The rookie safety tandem of Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams had a welcome to the NFL, as Maye was burned on a touchdown by Jet-killer tight end Charles Clay. They both tackled well and seemed to eventually reach a comfort level in their first game.
Justin Burris ended a Buffalo drive in the opening quarter with an interception that he brought back near the 50-yard line, but the Jets couldn’t capitalize.
OAKLAND: Things don’t get any easier for the Jets as they meet the Raiders in Oakland next Sunday. The Jets will need to get their running game going to maintain some long drives and take pressure off the defense. Their passing game appears to be the short game unless they develop a deeper threat.
Another plus for the Jets was kicker Chandler Catanzaro, who booted a pair of field goals.
Their defense has plenty of cleanups and will need to tighten the reign to pull in the Raiders.
Oakland’s Derek Carr threw for 262 yards with a pair of touchdowns and Marshawn Lynch ran for 76 yards in their 26-16 victory at Tennessee.
The Jets showed they can hang in games, but they will need an increase in firepower and stinginess to stay away from a potential disastrous start and season.