Maybe Rex Ryan isn't done helping the New York Jets just yet.
Last Sunday, Ryan, who's now the head coach of the Buffalo Bills, put together quite the defensive game plan as Buffalo pulled out a surprise victory over the Colts, 27-14. Buffalo dominated both lines of scrimmage, made quarterback Andrew Luck incredibly uncomfortable in the pocket and succeeded in doing what few have been able to over the last few years.
This Monday night, the Jets face the Colts, and will likely look to duplicate Rex's battle plan. But what exactly did Rex do that worked so well? Scout.com took to the film room to break it down:
The Buffalo Bills had a relatively, easy-enough game plan on the offensive side of the ball Sunday: Don't turn it over, be smart, take what the defense gives you.
The Buffalo Bills executed that game plan perfectly.
With Tyrod Taylor making the first start of his career under center, the Bills never really asked him to do too much. In fact, it wasn't until the end of the first quarter (literally, the last play) that Taylor threw a pass 10 yards down the field. On each play, Taylor stood in the pocket, waited for a receiver to find an opening in the zone, and then hit that receiver on short curls, hitches, outs and drags.
After a couple series, the defense began to anticipate the underneath throws, and thus brought their safeties up into the box. When that happened, Buffalo took a shot.
And Taylor it count
What Buffalo did on offense was very much, in a way, showing belief in their defense. They trusted its defense to get the job done, and thus didn't force anything on offense. It's not much different than what the Jets will likely plan to do.
With that being said, Taylor did bring an aspect to the field Sunday that worked well, but is unlikely something that can be mimicked by the Jets. On several occasions, Buffalo's protection broke down, and a rusher or two got free. Instead of taking the sack, Taylor escaped the pocket, got away from the rush and found a receiver down the field, or just kept it himself.
Fitzpatrick doesn't have that mobility. If the rush gets to him, there's a good chance he's going down.
There are few ways to truly "beat" Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. The three-time Pro Bowler has the speed to make plays on the move, the arm strength to make every throw on the field, and the accuracy to fit the ball into the tightest of spots.
What Luck can't do, and few in the NFL has ever been able to, is make constant plays with constant, unrelenting pressure is barring down on. Sure, he'll make a few, but not a 30-for-35, 400-yard, 5-TD passing day.
Rex Ryan knew this, and threw the kitchen sink at him, giving Luck fits for 60 minutes.
The Bills used unique fronts and blitzed on near every play to collapse the pocket on No. 12. While Indianapolis is solid at the tackle position, its interior offensive line is vulnerable. The Bills realized this, and instead of going at the offense's strength, instead attacked its weakness. By attacking the middle of the Bills offensive line, it prevented Luck from being able to set his feet. He couldn't move left or right, and couldn't step up. Luck had to throw flat-footed and entirely with his waist. That led to passes sailing high, and two interceptions.
But it wasn't just putting pressure up the middle that had Rex giving Luck fits. What the defensive-minded coach did brilliantly was give Luck looks he likely has never seen in his career.
What the Bills did Sunday on defense was perfect: Yes, they attacked the offense at their weakest spot. Yes, they blitzed. Yes, they forced Luck to make mistakes. But the Bills also confused Luck. So not only was he under pressure, but he spent the beginning of each play trying to figure out where the heck it was coming from.
Oh yeah, and Buffalo was playing without Marcell Dareus.
On one play, the Bills had Kyle Williams, Manny Lawson, Jerry Hughes and Mario Williams all lined up within five yards of each other on the far side of the field. On another play, Kyle Williams lined up at middle linebacker, then moved to rush from a standing linebacker position on the outside.
Buffalo used stunts, bull rushes, safety blitzes, linebacker blitzes... everything. Rex got creative, gave Luck something new on each play and it worked. It was brilliant.
In a way, Rex gave a blueprint to not only to the Jets, but the entire league, on how to slow the Colts offense. If you let Luck sit clean in the pocket, he'll pick you apart all day. You need to disrupt him.
But where even constant pressure doesn't work is if the Colts are able to establish a running game. Luck is deadly with a quick release. When he hits the third step in three-step drops, the ball's out. It can even happen in the shot gun with quick snap-throw passes. What the Bills did a tremendous job in doing was keeping the Colts in third-and-long situations. Essentially, imagine how far down the field a receiver can get during a three-step drop. The Bills kept the Colts to third-down distances that were beyond that.
Why? Because when they didn't, this happened:
There's no reason to believe the Jets can't replicate what the Bills did to the Colts. The two teams have similar offenses, and while the Bills have a better front four, the Jets secondary is superior. Bowles will likely look to use the same methodology.
Will it work? We'll find out Monday.