The New York Jets will be hitting the road to square off against a struggling Buffalo Bills squad in Week 11 that just fired their offensive coordinator. Both teams are currently on two-game losing streaks, with the Jets having a 4-5 record and the Bills owning a 5-5 record.
The Jets are in must-win territory with the AFC playoff picture shaping up. And if Aaron Rodgers ends up making a return this season, the Jets need to be in a position where the postseason is legitimately within reach.
In desperate need of a win, here are six players on the Jets to watch in Sunday’s divisional bout against the Bills.
QB Zach Wilson
Zach Wilson will continue to be mentioned as a player to watch until he puts together a notable performance under center. Among all quarterbacks in the NFL, Wilson has the worst EPA per play (-0.225), the worst success rate (38.5%), and the second-worst completion percentage over expected (-3.9).
The offense has simply not been good enough since Wilson has taken over as the starter in Week 2, but Robert Saleh continues to back the third-year quarterback. There needs to be some improvement from Wilson and the offense this week with how the defense is performing if the team wants any chance of sneaking into the playoffs. Just to note, the offense hasn’t scored a touchdown on 35 consecutive drives.
RB Breece Hall
Breece Hall remains one of the lone focal points in the offense, and teams can scheme ways to slow him down even more with the passing game lacking juice. Even with quiet outings in recent games, Hall is still fourth in rushing yards over expected (117) and is averaging 4.9 yards per attempt.
Hall is always a threat to break off a big play in the running and passing game, and the Bills are allowing 4.6 yards per attempt (fourth-most in the NFL). The Jets also released Michael Carter earlier this week, so the backfield workload is now exclusively going to be Hall and Dalvin Cook, with rookie Israel Abanikanda mixing in here and there.
OT Mekhi Becton
Mekhi Becton began the season as the starting right tackle for the Jets, but because of injuries, he’s been starting at left tackle. The former first-round pick will be tasked with seeing plenty of All-Pro Von Miller on Sunday, and he appears to be up to the challenge.
Mekhi Becton is asked if he is looking forward to seeing Von Miller:
He says “yes”
Then Mekhi is asked why he thrives against elite edge rushers:
“I’m elite as well, so that’s what I do.”
— Harrison Glaser (@NYJetsTFMedia) November 15, 2023
Miller isn’t the same player he once was as he’s yet to record a sack for the Bills this season in six games. At the same time, the Bills are desperate to get back on track, and Miller is still capable of flipping the switch in certain games.
Jermaine Johnson has been stringing together productive performances for the Jets in recent weeks, logging at least half a sack in three consecutive games. The Florida State product has always been a formidable run defender, but he’s showing more and more improvements in his pass-rushing repertoire.
Edge rushers are even more important when facing a mobile quarterback like Josh Allen as teams want to prevent him from breaking contain. Johnson and the other edge rusher will be crucial in not allowing Allen to generate his typical off-script plays on Sunday.
Another player who will be vital in containing Allen will be Quincy Williams. Back in Week 1, Allen rushed for 36 yards on six attempts, so expect the Jets to make a concerted effort to prevent the talented signal-caller from being effective with his legs.
Williams can be deployed as a quarterback spy on Allen, and he’ll be needed when the Bills elect to use James Cook in the passing game. There aren’t many linebackers who are more athletic than Williams, so he’s capable of wrecking a game from the inside linebacker spot.
Sauce Gardner was among the defensive players on the Jets to vocalize his frustration on the lack of ‘complementary’ football the team is playing right now. Gardner and the defense have remained dominant this season, and he’ll square off against Stefon Diggs for the second time in 2023.
Diggs registered 10 receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, so Gardner will want to make sure the go-to target for Allen isn’t as effective this time around. There is something to be said about defenses forcing the other pass-catchers on the Bills to beat them each week instead of letting Diggs run loose.