Every game from here on out is a "must win" for Todd Bowles and the Jets.
A loss to the Bills would send the Jets into their bye week with four straight defeats and a 3-7 record — and they haven’t played the Patriots yet. It also undoubtedly would lead to even greater speculation about Bowles’ job security. Bowles doesn’t talk about his job, but he did give an honest assessment of himself and his staff.
“Our coaching staff, we haven't done a good job,” Bowles said. “Being 3-6, we've got to do a better job. I don't want to assess anybody individually. As a staff and as a team we haven't done well.”
No one would argue with that, but that was Bowles responding to a question about offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates’ performance. It hasn’t been good considering the Jets have scored only one touchdown in their last eight quarters, and Bates says that’s on him.
“Right now, we're not scoring touchdowns,” he said. “That's my responsibility to get our players to score touchdowns and I'll do a better job at that. I got to put the players in position to be successful."
The Jets haven’t been good at much this year. But they have shown a strong ability to accept responsibility. Earlier in the week, Sam Darnold said he’s been “playing stupid football” the day after he threw four interceptions in a 13-6 loss to Miami.
If the Jets were to make a head-coaching change after the season, they almost certainly would hire a more offensive-minded coach.
The league is going that way, and scoring 17, 10 and 6 in three games is not going to get it done — unless the Jets played all three games against the Bills. The Bills scored 5, 6 and 9 in their last three games. Buffalo has eight touchdowns this season, and only three in the past six weeks.
This is a game, for so many reasons, that the Jets can’t afford to lose.
“Every game from here on out is a must win,” Bowles said. “Every game three weeks ago was a must win. Each week is a must win for us.”
For some more than others.
DEFENSE WON'T REST
The Jets’ skid and takeaway droughts could both end at three games this week.
Bills quarterbacks have totaled three touchdowns and 16 interceptions this season.
The Jets’ defense has been good. They didn’t allow a touchdown in Miami last week. But not getting a turnover is eating at them.
“We want to be great,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “We know we haven’t had turnovers the past few weeks. Defensively we played pretty well but we don’t want to play well, we want to play great. Great defenses get all of it done. They’re getting turnovers.”
Going into the weekend, Bills coach Sean McDermott hadn’t named his starting quarterback.
Veteran Derek Anderson (concussion) has been ruled out. Rookie Josh Allen is recovering from a sprained elbow, and was limited in practice. Nathan Peterman is healthy, but he has thrown seven interceptions in 81 pass attempts this season. He appears to be a worst-case scenario starter.
It could be newly signed Matt Barkley, who hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2016. Barkley’s career stats are 14 interceptions and eight touchdowns in 11 games
Second-year running back Elijah McGuire made some plays in his season debut last week and could be in line for more work. Bates talked up McGuire, calling him “a special player.” McGuire played 36 of 66 snaps in his return from a broken foot, 13 more than starter Isaiah Crowell. McGuire had a team-high 67 yards on 12 touches. Bates said the Jets need to run more and employ more checkdown passes to get the offense moving. That could mean more McGuire.
Jets' alltime record against the Bills.
Terrelle Pryor makes his MetLife return four weeks after catching a TD pass for the Jets against Indianapolis — their last victory.
Pryor healed pretty quickly from a groin injury that led to the Jets waiving him. He signed with the Bills and was in on 75 of their 91 offensive snaps last week. McDermott is looking for more from Pryor this week.
“I was impressed with the way he was able to learn the system in just a short amount of time,” McDermott said. “Now I’m excited to see him make a jump this week with more time on tap this past week in practice.”
The Jets said they waived Pryor because they thought his injury would sideline him several games, and they needed a roster spot to promote receiver Deontay Burnett. Pryor appeared in six games for the Jets, catching 14 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns.
SALUTE TO SERVICE
General manager Mike Maccagnan and his wife, Betty are the Jets’ nominees for the Salute to Service Award for their dedication and commitment to honoring and supporting the military community. Winners will be announced the night before the Super Bowl. Jets returner Andre Roberts won the award last year as a member of the Falcons.
The Jets will honor the armed forces at Sunday’s game.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
2: Touchdowns the Jets and Bills have combined to score the past two weeks