Jets takeaways from 45-17 loss to Bills, including defense allowing another 40-point game

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Jets Javelin Guidry green jersey beat by Stefon Diggs
Jets Javelin Guidry green jersey beat by Stefon Diggs

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

The clock struck midnight on the Mike White Era on Sunday as his bandwagon crashed into the NFL’s No. 1 defense with a thud.

White threw four interceptions in a terrible, 45-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills, and he couldn’t generate any offense despite completing 24 of 44 passes for 251 yards. He even left the game with an injury with about five minutes left in the game after Bills defensive end Efe Obada slammed him hard to the turf.

It’s a good bet this performance will be all the excuse the Jets need to go back to rookie quarterback Zach Wilson against the Miami Dolphins next week.

This wasn’t all White’s fault, of course. There was plenty of sloppy play around him and the Jets’ defense has just turned into an absolute disaster. But the wild ride of Magic Mike had been gripping the New York headlines for weeks as the world thought a quarterback controversy was coming.

It was clear pretty early in this game, though, that there would be no controversy at all. White struggled from the start, when he was very nearly picked off on his second pass of the game – a dangerous throw over the middle that went off the hands of linebacker A.J. Klein. He actually was picked off on the second drive and nearly picked off on the third.

The killer, which surely had many fans cancelling their Christmas orders for Mike White jerseys, came on the first Jets offensive play of the second half.

Trailing 24-3, White unloaded a bomb over the middle, deep towards rookie receiver Elijah Moore. But Moore was double-covered and White overthrew him, resulting in an easy interception for Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White.

Nov 14, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mike White (5) drops back to pass. against the Buffalo Bills during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium.
Nov 14, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mike White (5) drops back to pass. against the Buffalo Bills during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium.

No one expected things would be easy against a Bills team that is as good at disguising coverages as any team in the NFL. And for all the Mike White hype the last few weeks, this was still just his third NFL start. But the hope was he’d be able to at least move the offense with a little consistency by making smart decisions and picking up small chunks of yards.

That didn’t happen, though. Not even close. And while it’s probably unfair to judge White on just one start, the Jets don’t have much of a choice here. They remain very invested in Wilson, their rookie, franchise savior, whom they took with the No. 2 pick in the draft just seven months ago. They were willing to ride the White train as far as they could.

But this will be the stop where they get off.

Here are some more takeaways from the Jets’ latest disheartening loss …

  • White will get all the headlines in New York, but this should be shouted from the rooftops: The real blame for this loss should go to the defense, which has turned into a tragedy for this team. They gave up 489 yards – the fourth time in five games that they’ve given up 450 or more. They keep saying they're embarrassed and that it will never happen again, yet every week it does. They can’t generate any consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks and their young secondary is just falling apart. Bills QB Josh Allen had open receivers all over the field and he found them, completing 21 of 28 passes for 366 yards and two touchdowns. Most of that damage was done by Stefon Diggs, who had a ridiculous eight catches for 162 yards and a touchdown. Gabriel Davis had three catches for 105 yards, too.

  • This was an awful game overall for the Jets’ young secondary, but it was particularly bad for rookie cornerback Brandin Echols. He looked silly early, getting juked when he tried to tackle Bills running back Devin Singletary. Then, late in the first half, he bit badly on a pump fake from Bills QB Josh Allen and was burned by Stefon Diggs for a 57-yard catch. A few plays later he left with a thigh injury and missed the entire second half. Of course, it’s not like his replacement, Javelin Guidry, did any better. The Bills went right after him.

  • A bright side for the Jets? There’s always the Michael Carters. Michael Carter the running back had a strong game with 82 combined yards (39 rushing, 43 receiving) and a touchdown. He is a really hard runner and that will help the Jets if this offense is ever any good. And on defense, Michael Carter the cornerback keeps proving he can play. He had a terrific stop early when he kept up with Isaiah McKenzie on a deep shot, got in front of him and got hand up to deflect the pass. He’s been outstanding in coverage, which is why teams are throwing so often to the other side.

  • After three really ugly offensive drives to start the game, the Jets finally got their offense going early in the second quarter. But when they tried to keep their momentum going on a 4th and 1 from the Buffalo 45 they got called for a delay of game penalty. That’s just inexcusable in that spot and a sure sign of White’s inexperience. They ended up punting instead

  • On that drive, the Jets got their offense moving because they established the run and White started looking for the short passes again instead of longer throws over the middle. That was the formula that worked for him in the previous three games, but the Jets seemed to abandon it early. Why? And why would they start out the second half with a risky deep pass down the middle (that was, of course, intercepted). Yes, it was 24-3, but they still had about 26 minutes left in the game – plenty of time if they had just established some offensive rhythm. It’s like they were playing for the big play all game long, which is hardly their strength.

  • The Jets rushing game was actually decent – 70 yards on 22 carries. But they ran on only 22 of their 70 offensive plays. And yes, much of that is because they were playing from behind, but they were also way too pass heavy in the first half when the game was still close. They need to remember that this Kyle Shanahan offense is powered by the run. Maybe offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur got a little over-confident in his passing attack after its success the last couple of weeks. But that was never going to be the way to beat the Bills.

  • Here’s another great example of the Jets shooting themselves in the foot. They get the ball back with 53 seconds left after the Bills score to go up 17-3. White completes a pass to get them to the 39. RB Ty Johnson then kills the drives with back-to-back drops. White salvages it on third down with a huge, 28-yard pass over the middle to No. 1 WR Corey Davis that puts them in field goal range … except Davis fumbles and the Bills recover. Such terribly sloppy play.

  • White sure wasn’t getting any “star” treatment to the officials, who let him get hit twice long after a whistle was blown. The first came on that 4th and 1. After they blew the play dead for the delay of game penalty, Bills LB A.J. Klein still raced after White outside of the pocket, slapped at his arm to knock the ball loose and even knocked White to the ground. But no flag was thrown. Later, after a Bills timeout was called, the refs let the pocket collapse around White and a Bills defender grabbed him in a bear hug. Again, no flag was thrown. I can’t imagine that happening to Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers twice in one game. Maybe not even once.