A huge divisional win helps keep the Buffalo Bills’ postseason hopes alive. A 32-6 win against the rival New York Jets was about as strong a win as the Bills could have hoped for. The defense stifled Nate Hackett’s offense, forcing the Jets to bench starting quarterback Zach Wilson, and the elite Jets defense got worn out taking on the Bills’ run game, ultimately giving up too many big plays to Josh Allen in the passing game.
Below we’ll take a look at the most inspiring performance, the part of the team that has the most questions moving forward, discuss the need for the Bills’ consistency moving forward, and talk about the most irksome part of the game.
Inspire – Joe Brady, Josh Allen, and the offense (and Rasul Douglas):
It was an incredible debut for Buffalo interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady as he took the play-calling role after Ken Dorsey’s firing. It was a wake-up call, and perhaps one that should have happened earlier and maybe shouldn’t have required firing Dorsey in order to occur. Regardless, Brady made a concerted effort to get the running backs involved in the passing game, and it worked throughout the entire contest, not the least of which was on a 28-yard Ty Johnson touchdown catch and run on 4th and 1. Dalton Kincaid continued his strong run of games, collecting six catches on seven targets for 46 yards while consistently finding the soft spots in the zone. Khalil Shakir had two critical catches including a massive 81-yard TD catch and run that effectively put this game out of reach for the moribund Jets offense. It wasn’t always pretty and it certainly wasn’t perfect, but the offense did what they needed to do to stay in sync, not shoot themselves in the foot, and did so against a top-tier defense. After a short week, Brady had a very difficult task preparing for this defense and rallying his offense after a difficult game against the Broncos. But he did a phenomenal job sticking with the run game, and keeping the players focused and not pressing to make plays when they just needed to keep “matriculating” the ball down the field. This was a huge win for the Bills and their hopes for this season, but it was even more important for the offense to show they could do exactly what everyone knew they could do.
The defense also deserves a big shout-out, but Rasul Douglas in particular generated three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble recovery). A big trade by Brandon Beane to reinforce the secondary has paid big dividends.
Inquire – Injuries:
Despite the big win, the Bills suffered several injuries to the secondary. Dane Jackson and Taron Johnson both left with concussions, and Taylor Rapp had a neck injury that required an ambulance to take him off the field but did not require hospitalization at this time. With the Philadelphia Eagles on the horizon, the Bills can’t afford to have injuries to their secondary going against A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith. More than that, the Taron Johnson injury is the most concerning part given how critical he is to the structure and identity of the Bills defense. If he can’t go next week, they will likely be relying on Cam Lewis to fill the role on an already depleted Bills defense that cannot afford more losses. These injuries to the secondary will be a critical factor to monitor moving forward.
Require – Consistency moving forward:
The Bills scored on big plays, they went on long drives, they got turnovers, and they didn’t turn the ball over themselves. If you were to come up with easy ways to win football games, most people would come up with some combination of those things. The real question is if the Bills can do this consistently moving forward. During their rough stretch of games starting against Jacksonville, they struggled to get turnovers, and they struggled to not turn the ball over themselves. It’s a rough combination when you do both of those things! Today was the opposite, and they looked great on both sides of the ball from a turnover perspective. But can they continue to do this down the stretch? Can they continue to do this against a very difficult schedule? Can they continue to use whatever it is that worked today to their advantage? Time will tell, but given all the difficulties they had in the middle stretch of the season, momentum seems to be swinging back their way.
Irk – Special Teams:
A missed PAT, a fake punt conversion, poor punting, and a big return on a kickoff. It wasn’t the best day for Matthew Smiley’s unit, and coming off last week’s loss where the team bungled a substitution on a fire drill field goal, some fingers are being pointed toward him. The special teams unit has been underwhelming for most of the year, and the Bills are going to have to find a way to stop the bleeding at some point. Tyler Bass remains a constant, despite his missed PAT, but for the most part, the Bills special teams unit has been struggling for this entire season. Some of this is due to the injuries on defense, where guys who normally play special teams are now forced to take a role on defense, which means less experienced guys are playing in those special teams roles. Regardless, the Bills can’t afford to have these gaffes week in and week out, especially during the tough part of their schedule.
The Bills, as mentioned above, will face the Eagles next week at 4:25 in Philadelphia. The Eagles, who boast the best record in the NFL, will be coming off a short week as they play the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football. The Eagles are a very difficult team to defend against and have playmakers on both sides of the ball, and if the Bills beat them, it will be a huge swing of momentum that they have needed going into their Week 13 bye week. A critical moment approaches for the 2023 Buffalo Bills.