With two consecutive victories notched against AFC East opponents, the Jets have to be certain that their growing confidence doesn’t become carelessness on Sunday when they travel to Buffalo (1 p.m., CBS).
Gang Green split two games with the Bills (0-3) in 2009, winning the second contest after a turnover-plagued overtime loss last October. But the development of second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez might be the difference for the Jets (2-1) this time. The 23-year-old “Sanchize” is playing mistake-free football, reading defenses with more patience and looking beyond the check-down receiver for three touchdowns in each of the Jets’ wins.
Tune-up for Slauson?
Second-year guard Matt Slauson’s drive-killing holding penalties can be credited to his inexperience. But in games against Baltimore and Miami, he faced some of the NFL’s best defensive fronts in his first three starts. The Bills’ defensive line depth isn’t adequate for a traditional 3-4 scheme, and they lack a legitimate pass-rushing threat to disrupt blocking assignments. Slauson should have an opportunity to slow the game down and build his confidence against a hollow front seven.
Getting Wilson up to speed
Although rookie cornerback Kyle Wilson can’t be blamed for Darrelle Revis’ injured hamstring or the Jets’ inconsistent pass rush (their five sacks are 21st overall in NFL), he can improve his playing speed. Against Miami, Wilson routinely allowed receivers to run by him, opening windows for Chad Henne and forcing Wilson to regain ground when the ball was in the air. If he’s not allowing a completion, he’s often flagged for interference when compensating for his distance to the receiver.
Schottenheimer vs. himself
Despite Sanchez’s improved grasp on Brian Schottenheimer’s system, the fifth-year offensive coordinator still strategizes against himself. During last week’s victory, Schottenheimer wasted exceptional field position after Brad Smith’s kick return placed the Jets on the Dolphins’ 43-yard line following the Fins’ first touchdown. An attempt at the wildcat offense and gratuitous pre-snap shifts and motion forced Sanchez to burn two timeouts, resulting in a scoreless three-and-out series. The Dolphins then sliced the Jets’ 14-point lead to four at the half.
Fitzpatrick and his feet
In three games against the Jets, dating back to 2008 with Cincinnati, Ryan Fitzpatrick has rushed 18 times for 75 yards and a touchdown. That mobility is what allows him to extend drives and force defenses into chasing him. Coming off a 247-yard, two-touchdown performance against New England, Fitzpatrick’s feet could be all the 27-year-old quarterback needs to find opportunities against a Jets defense looking to regain its stride.