- Todd Bowles has the Jets playing hard, and a team that was supposed to vie for the NFL's worst record has moved to 4-5 after a convincing 34-21 win of the Bills.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Three takeaways from the Jets' 34–21 Thursday night win over the Bills:
1. If Jets management is debating whether or not to bring back this year’s coaching staff at the end of the season, they should have momentarily bottled the atmosphere at MetLife Stadium with about 10 minutes to go in the third quarter of Thursday night’s game.
Journeyman Josh McCown had just lofted a 25-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson, which floated perfectly over the shoulder of Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White, leaving just enough room for Anderson to tap his toes before stumbling out of the end zone.
A scattered, but involved crowd began waving the white promotional towels handed out in the parking lot pre-game and, for a second, it was easy to forget that this team pivoted to a full rebuild before the season started and was left for dead by plenty of analysts (present company included). Even if the four-win Jets lose out—they end the season at Tampa, home against Carolina, home against Kansas City, at Denver, at New Orleans, home against LA Chargers, at New England—this coaching staff has shown enough adaptability with a young core that removing them would almost seem irresponsible. To be clear, this wasn't Yankee Stadium during a Game Seven, but I’ve seen plenty of bad, poorly attended prime-time Jets football where a second-hand ticket costs less than a Shock Top at the concession stand. This wasn’t that, and it easily could have been.
Offensive coordinator John Morton has not only earned the right to mentor a young quarterback should the Jets go that direction in this year’s draft, but may be one of the more desirable coordinators around the league to do so.
It was impressive to see the way the Jets bullied their opponent Thursday. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, McCown had attempted just 19 passes to 22 designed rushes between Bilal Powell and Matt Forte. Forte was averaging more than five yards per carry. Powell was over eight for a time. Moments like this are typically few and far between for the Jets, who were coming off a three-game losing streak. But this year’s team always demanded special consideration when making a final judgment.
2. Newly acquired wideout Kelvin Benjamin was in team-issued sweats Thursday, trotting back and forth on the sideline while Buffalo's offense suffered without him. While Benjamin isn’t necessarily an immediate scheme fit, Tyrod Taylor can use a strong, rangy receiver who can position himself against cornerbacks. This was obvious at the 11:26 mark in the fourth quarter when Taylor was trying to create a spark by slipping through two crashing rushers in the pocket, then two defensive linemen, then a linebacker peeling off coverage before he was finally strip sacked by Jordan Jenkins. There was nowhere to go with the ball. He was hit 11 times and sacked seven times on the night.
3. I’m not nearly ready to call the Bills out, however this offense was always going to be a work in progress. Their remaining schedule seems friendly, with games against the Saints and Chargers coming up next, plus a game against the Colts and two games against the Dolphins left. But Benjamin needs to be more than just useful down the stretch, he needs to help offensive coordinator Rick Dennison refocus this vertical passing game. Taylor seemed more inclined to stretch the field when Charles Clay was in the lineup, but the tight end hasn’t played since Oct. 8 due to a knee injury. The more big targets, the better.