This week, the Buffalo Bills leave Orchard Park for the first time this season and head to New Jersey to take on Geno Smith and the New York Jets. This will be the first of hopefully many duels between rookie quarterbacks E.J. Manuel and Geno Smith. Here are some do’s and don’ts for the Bills.
E.J. Manuel needs to continue to be the efficient passer that he has been for the first two weeks. Manuel has shown that he is very mature for a rookie quarterback, only throwing for one interception so far in his career. Manuel has done a good job of not making many stupid mistake that rookie QB’s tend to make. When the pocket starts collapsing, Manuel doesn’t try to force passes downfield, instead he will check it down to C.J. Spiller or Fred Jackson out of the backfield, or hold on to the ball himself and pick up yardage. For the Bills to be successful, Manuel will have to continue his patience and not turn the ball over.
Spiller is going to have to have another great game. Last week against the Panthers, Spiller looked like the back that everyone was expecting him to be, rushing for 103 yards on only 16 attempts. His explosiveness out of the backfield looked as good as ever, breaking off two 40+ yard gains (one of them was called back because of…you guessed it…penalties).
Last week, the Jets limited the Patriots to only 54 yards on the ground. New England’s RB’s aren’t nearly as talented as Spiller, so I expect C.J. to have another big game.
The defense is going to have to keep pressure on Geno Smith. Geno is a rookie so it will be important to make him uncomfortable. Last week, the Bills were able to keep pressure on Panthers QB Cam Newton, sacking him 5 times, with 4.5 of them coming from Mario Williams. The Bills also did a good job of keeping the duel threat Newton contained, not allowing him to beat them with his legs. Smith is another duel threat guy, so Buffalo will have to stay disciplined and keep him from escaping the pocket.
Buffalo needs to get their defense off the field on third down. The Bills made an improvement from Week 1 to Week 2, only allowing the Panthers to convert on 7 of their 16 third down opportunities. This is especially important given the type of offense Coach Doug Marrone runs. The Bills run a no-huddle offense. When the Bills go 3-and-out, the defense only has about 5 minutes to catch their breath before having to go back out there. Buffalo needs to get their defense off the field as quickly as possible.
The Bills absolutely can’t keep taking so many penalties. In the first 2 weeks of this season, Buffalo has managed to tally up 15 penalties for 130 yards. Constantly getting flagged can kill you in this league; Doug Marrone needs to keep his players in check. I am getting sick of writing about something as stupid as penalties every week.
Buffalo can’t be so conservative on 3rd down. In my “Do” section, I praised Manuel for not taking risks, and I’m going to do my best to not contradict myself in this paragraph. He needs to throw the ball passed the 1st down marker on 3rd down. There were many occasions last week that he would throw the ball well behind where he needed for 1st down yardage. Manuel needs to be conscious of where the 1st down marker is. It doesn’t make any sense for him to throw the ball to a receiver 8 yards behind the marker. If the Bills can convert on more 3rd downs, it will give the defense more time to rest up.
In Vegas, the oddsmakers have the Jets a 1 point favorite this week. I’m assuming the only reason the Bills are getting that 1 point is because they are a young team on the road. I think Vegas might be on to something here: this game will be close. My prediction is 24-20 in favor of the Bills.