Bills vs. Jets | Trail Technique


The Bills offensive struggles took a toll on its defense versus the New York Jets in week 2. The Bills defense was on the field for a total of 39:12. That definitely contributed to the shoddy defensive pass rush but in my opinion, the Bills secondary still had opportunities to makes plays on the ball. It seemed as though the Jets offense, led by former Buffalo Bill Ryan Fitzpatrick were always a step ahead. Calling the right play, keeping the Bills in the “trail technique” the whole game.

In my opinon, the key to the Jets win, was their ability to make plays down the field versus what was considered the Bills strength. Ryan Fitzpatrick attempted 9 passes over 20 yards, he completed 6 of them for 178 yards. I broke down all 6, plus two that were right on the threshold of an “explosive play”.

Rex Ryan had a game plan. He put the defensive game plan in the hands of the Bills secondary, but they were not up to the task. It started by limiting Jets receiver Eric Decker. Eric Decker was Fitzy’s go-to to receiver last season hauling in 11 catches for 135 yards and 2 touchdowns versus the Bills. Anytime the Jets needed a big play, they used Decker in the slot and converted several times. That’s why when the Jets had a 3rd down and 10 on their first drive on Thursday, offensive coordinator Chan Gailey used Decker to get wide receiver Quincy Enuwa one on one coverage.

Jets bring out 11 personnel in a 3×1 formation with Enuwa to the top of the screen, Decker in the slot, Davis in the off-line TE position and Marshall solo to the bottom of the screen. The Bills match with nickel personnel. Enuwa gets the single coverage and makes a play versus Gilmore.


Enuwa was an X-factor early in the game. He was targeted three times versus Gilmore converting all three times for 55 yards. He kept the Bills defense off balance and dumbfounded on who to cover from play to play.

In week one, the Jets ran the ball with the most success out of 12 personnel. Forte sliced and diced the Bengals for 96 yards on 22 carries. The Bills saw that on film so their defensive game plan was to match that with their base defense. The staff would devise ways to slow down Decker and Marshall with their secondary, leaving the front seven to stop the run. But as you will see on this play, even though the play design is good on paper, the legs of Fitzy extend the play just long enough to find Decker.

Bills are in their base defense on 1st and 10 expecting run. Gailey calls a play action pass with double in routes down the field.


Here is another 1st and 10 at the Jets 34 yard line in the second quarter. Rex was expecting run, so he keeps in his base defense. This allows the Bills to have a safety near the line of scrimmage to slow down Matt Forte, but again Gailey calls a deep shot. Marshall catches the 37-yard pass over Ronald Darby. Marshall beat the second-year corner three times (6 targets vs Darby) for 54 yards.


On this 1st and 10 at the Jets 23 yard line, New York brings out 11 personnel. The Bills decide to match up with their base defense, but they line up Hughes over the slot WR. Expecting run, the Bills linebackers bite hard on the play-action. This allows Enuwa to get deep over the middle for a 21 yard gain.


On the same drive in the second quarter, one that led to an Eric Decker touchdown, Fitzy and Marshall show off their rapport. The Bills show two safeties high on first down, but then drop into cover 1. Fitzy hits Marshall with a bullet to Marshall’s back shoulder. Nothing Gilmore can do about that, a safety over the top wouldn’t have made a difference either.


The Jets had three possessions in the third quarter. They only got seven points off of those drives. Their scoring drive consisted of a 12 play drive that ate up 6:27.  At the end of the third stanza, the Bills were down 27-24.

On the Jets first drive of the fourth quarter, they opened up the offense by hitting rookie Jalin Marshall on a 27 yard pass over Gilmore. Similar to the first drive where Gailey used Decker as a decoy, he calls it again on 3rd down and 9 from the Jets 14 yard line. As to not key the defense, Gailey trots out Jalin Marshall to the top of the screen instead of Enuwa. The Bills show two high safeties again, but they have Graham double the deadly slot WR. Decker runs a deep hook route at the marker, that occupies two defenders allowing Marshall to get one on one with Gilmore. Gilmore was abused this game. He surrendered 7 of 8 targets for 129 yards, 35 yards after catch and was graded as the worst Bills defender (-5.1)


The Bills surrender another explosive play on the very next call. On 1st and 10 the Jets bring out 12 personnel in a 2×2 set. So the Bills stay in their base defense, but with Aaron Williams at safety instead of Duke. Williams’ man blocks, which usually means that Aaron should backpedal and get depth. This assumption is based on Darby’s reaction and the other assignments. Aaron fails to drop and Decker wins on the double move versus Darby for 35 yards. This drive ended with a Jets field goal and the Bills down 30-24.


The Bills turn it over on downs and the Jets took over at their 44-yard line. Chan Gailey sends out 11 personnel, so the Bills match it with their nickel package. They play what appears to be cover 6 on this 2nd and 6 play. Prior to the snap, you can see Graham creeping to the short side of the field as if he has the deep half, over the top of Darby. But you have to give Fitzy credit, he knows how to hold and move safeties with his eyes and body. He does just enough to move Graham, allowing him to hit Decker on the skinny post for 27 yards. This play was the back breaker in the game. Another deep pass at the heart of the defense. The Jets went on to score another touchdown, going up 37-24.


The Bills and their fans’ hearts were ripped out on national television. Buffalo lost at home to a division rival, in primetime, to a former quarterback who didn’t live up to a lofty contract extension while in the Queen City. The loss sent the Bills to 0-2, but it was the way that they lost. They gave up big plays on defense. Ronald Darby (PFF rating 77.9 overall, 20th) and Stephon Gilmore (PFF rating 39 overall, 88th), considered to be a top corner tandem struggled mightily and were the main reason the Bills lost. Week three won’t get any easier. The Arizona Cardinals come to town and they were one of the best deep passing teams last season. They have speed and size to stretch this secondary vertically. Let’s hope the Bills cover guys can rebound from a miserable outing.



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