When the Jets squared off against the Bills eight weeks ago at MetLife Stadium, OC Marty Mornhinweg called for an air-it-out game plan, and QB Geno Smith and his receivers delivered. The Jets completed four passes of 40 or more yards for the first time since the Joe Namath days en route to a 513-yard day.
But as head coach Rex Ryan said this week, "We have to know our opponent," and on that day, S Jairus Byrd and CB Stephon Gilmore were both out, while CB Leodis McKelvin left the game with an injury after playing just seven snaps on our opening drive.
All three of Buffalo's starting defensive backs will be playing this time around.
"Byrd is a ball-hawking safety, Pro Bowl-type safety," Smith said. "They play a ton of man, so having Gilmore back, their starting corner, obviously makes them a better defense. And they've been pretty stout up front, so just having a chance to have those guys back gives them, I think, better guys in that secondary, which really helps their defense out because that's the style that they play."
The back end of the Bills' defense might not be depleted this time around, but their strengthened secondary isn't changing how our receivers are approaching this AFC East rematch.
"We have to take advantage of what we can do on the field," WR Santonio Holmes said, "and that's studying more film amongst ourselves, just the way that we practice and put things together, learning the techniques that Coach Sanjay [Lal] is teaching us, and continue to use them out on the field against these guys. They like to play man-to-man defense, so our biggest thing is create separation and get our hands on the ball."
"It changes a lot for us looking at them for how we're supposed to play them individually," WR Stephen Hill said, "but other than that, our preparation definitely doesn't change. We're just going out there to do what we have to do and make sure we make plays and score touchdowns."
Holmes and Hill had one of the best games of their respective careers when we played Buffalo earlier this season as they combined for 262 yards and two touchdowns on just eight receptions (32.8 yards/catch).
"All we need to do is just go out there and execute," TE Jeff Cumberland said. "As far as receivers, tight ends and running backs, be at your right landmark, your right depth, and the line up front, as long as they're protecting right, everything should work out pretty good. I wouldn't say that it will make it more difficult because they have their guys out there. As long as we're doing what we need to do, then we should be in great shape."
With wins over quarterbacks Matt Ryan, Tom Brady and Drew Brees since our 27-20 Week 3 win over the Bills, along with the expected returns of Holmes, Cumberland and TE Kellen Winslow, there's plenty of optimism surrounding the Green & White offense.
Despite any expectations for a season sweep, with Buffalo's secondary patched up and a cold, windy, rainy day in the forecast, don't count on as many fireworks through the air for Geno and the Jets in Round 2.