The Jets are preparing to face a Buffalo Bills team in Week 1 that has made the postseason in two of Sean McDermott's first three seasons as head coach. McDermott is very much a process-oriented leader and he has continued to stress controlling the controllables before his club's season-opener against the Green & White.
"Every year is a new year," he told reporters on a Zoom call. "We certainly have work to do. We're focused on that work, we're focused on the Jets and putting our best foot forward. That's all we can control at this point."
The Bills won 10 games in 2019 and earned a playoff berth, riding a defense that finished No. 2 in scoring (16.5 Pts/G), No. 3 overall (298.3 Yds/G), No. 4 against the pass (195.2 Yds/G) and tied for 10th in takeaways (23). In three career outings vs. the Bills, Sam Darnold has completed 66% of his passes for 544 yards with 3 TDs and 2 INTs.
"We went through the [scouting] process with Sam," McDermott said. "I have a lot of respect for Sam and his work and who he is. As you look at him, he's mobile, he does a good job in the pocket [and] he does a good job getting them in and out of checks at the line of scrimmage based on the looks he's presented with. So, he looks like a young quarterback with a lot of upside."
The Jets believe their monstrous rookie tackle, Mekhi Becton, has a lot of upside. Becton, the No. 11 overall selection in last April's draft, could often find himself matched up against edge pass rusher Jerry Hughes.
"It kind of feels a little college-esque in the sense there are no preseason games to go off," Hughes said on a Zoom call about preparing for new personnel. "Some guys don't even have NFL tape, so you're pulling up things from the archives of what they did a year or two ago and college. It's kind of eerie being in this position just because we've always had the preseason games to kind of catch our bearings and catch our breath and get into the whole game flow. But it certainly did come up fast. We're excited, we're tired of hitting each other, we want to see some new faces. We want to go out there and have some fun and play some competitive football, so Week 1 couldn't come any faster."
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Hughes (32) has racked up 51.5 sacks in 152 career appearances. To get any game film on the massive Becton, Hughes has had to go the non-traditional route and find what the internet has stored on the former Louisville star.
"That's been real key for me, watching what he has out there if it's on YouTube or highlights," Hughes said. "I'm a football nerd, so I like to study film just to see who I'm going against. 2020 certainly has been quite challenging — it's had its changes, its ups and downs [and] its ebbs and flows. This is something that is new, but it's been part of the whole process."
A player who has bought into the process in Buffalo is elite cornerback Tre'Davious White. It will be interesting to see how White, who signed a contract extension last weekend that made him the highest paid CB in the NFL, is employed against a new-look Jets wideout group that includes Breshad Perriman, rookie Denzel Mims and former Bills target Chris Hogan. White can play the slot, too, and the Bills, a zone-heavy unit, could elect to put him on Jamison Crowder at times.
"We're going to have to hone in on our fundamentals throughout the game because it's the first week," White told the "Good Morning Football" crew about Week 1. "We don't know everything the Jets are going to throw at us, so we just are going to have to go out and do the things we do well and believe in our techniques and our scheme and try the best way we can to put ourselves in the best position to make plays and be successful on Sunday."
The teams split the season series last year with the winners scoring 17 points (Buffal0) and 13 points (New York Jets) in Weeks 1 and 17. The two teams combined for 52 points in the two contests and McDermott knows his young QB, Josh Allen, will see a lot thrown at him from Gregg Williams. In three career meetings against the Jets, Allen is 1-2 with a 58% completion percentage with 1 TD and 4 INTs.
"They have a tremendous coaching staff that do a great job, very aggressive," McDermott said. "They try to give you different looks and move people around. They do a really good job inside out, playing physical. They do present a challenge."