Keeping the Jets from Taking Off

The Bills will have their hands full with the Jets on Sunday, regardless of their record. If Buffalo wants to leave New Jersey with a victory, here are four things the Bills must do.

Don’t let the 1-6 record fool you; the New York Jets are better than their record indicates. Four of New York’s losses have been by eight points or less. The Jets have weapons on both sides of the ball and a head coach that has bested the Bills seven out of ten times.

How can the Buffalo Bills take the Jets from taking off?

Stop Chris Ivory

No disrespect to Chris Johnson, but Ivory is the running back that worries me the most on Sunday. Buffalo has done a terrific job of stopping the run for the majority of the season, but last week showed that the Bills can be run upon. The Vikings had two backs that were able to run the ball for 20+ yards. Entering Week 7, the Bills hadn’t allowed any rushes of 20 yards or more. Minnesota also had a back, Jerick McKinnon, who rushed for over 100 yards. Overall, Minnesota ran the ball 29 times for 158 yards (5.45 YPC).

This week, Buffalo’s defense will try to slow Ivory. This is easier said than done. Ivory is a tough runner who doesn’t usually go down after first contact. On the season, Ivory has 88 carries for 432 (4.9 YPC) and three touchdowns. Buffalo’s defensive line has to limit Ivory’s yards after contact if they hope to win on Sunday.

Stopping Ivory will put the Jets in 2nd and 3rd and long situations. That’s the recipe that Jim Schwartz and the Bills defense have used successfully all year.

Keep the Ball Out of Percy Harvin’s Hands

There’s no doubt that Rex Ryan will want to show off his shiny new toy. On Sunday, the Jets will look to get Harvin the ball as much as possible.

The Jets have already said that they plan on using Harvin in the kick return game. They may also feature him as a punt returner. The Bills have carried a kickoff specialist all season. They may want to do this on Sunday if Jordan Gay is kicking the ball through the end zone. The best way to slow down Harvin on kick returns is to not give him an opportunity to return the ball. On punts, Colton Schmidt has been terrific in terms of the distance of his punts. The Bills may ask him to sacrifice some of those yards in exchange for hang time against New York.

Harvin certainly doesn’t know the Jets playbook just yet, but he’ll still play significant snaps against Buffalo. The Jets will likely give Harvin a carry or two, throw it to him deep and even feature him in the screen game. New York will be looking to get their fans into the game and there’s no better way than to feature their new playmaker. Stopping Harvin is crucial as one big play can shift momentum and get the crowd into the game.

Don’t Abandon the Run

The Bills will be without their top two running backs on Sunday. They’ll feature Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown while also possibly using Phillip Tanner. The trio may not strike fear in the Jets’ hearts, but they still need to feed their backs.

The Jets have a terrific front seven and rush yards will be hard to come by, but the Bills can’t be too pass heavy against the Jets. If Buffalo struggles to run the ball, or abandons the run, Rex Ryan will surely dial up pressure to get to Kyle Orton. Orton has no mobility. You’d need a calendar to time his 40-yard dash.

Buffalo’s offensive line has been very shaky and Orton needs some time to get the ball out. The best way to accomplish this feat is to keep the Jets’ defense honest. Run the ball consistently and feature the backs in the screen game. Getting the ball to Buffalo’s backs will keep New York’s defense from being overly-aggressive.

Dixon is a tough runner and he certainly won’t shy away from contact. Brown is more explosive, but can also run the ball up the middle. Their success will go a long way in determining the outcome of the game.

Get the Ball to Your Playmakers

It sounds simple, but Rex Ryan will do everything possible to prevent this from happening. Buffalo’s top playmaker on offense is Sammy Watkins. The Jets don’t have any cornerbacks that can stop Watkins consistently, but getting pressure on Orton can keep the ball from going to Watkins. Having a safety help in coverage can also limit Watkins’ productivity. Buffalo needs to call plays that get the ball in Watkins’ hands quickly. Let him do the rest.

Besides Watkins, Bryce Brown has looked like a homerun hitter when given the opportunity. Buffalo’s screen game has been awful this year, but against an aggressive defense like the Jets, they may find success. Give Brown the ball in space and see if he can pick up large chunks of yards.

I’m not sure if Scott Chandler would qualify as a playmaker, but he has certainly been involved with Orton at quarterback. He’s also someone who can pick up large chunks of yards in the middle of the field. Exploit mismatches whenever they arise.

Finally, Buffalo has to take whatever the Jets give them. If the Jets double Watkins, trust Robert Woods and Chris Hogan. Orton has done a nice job of spreading the ball around as Bills quarterback. He needs to continue this trend against the Jets.

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