Mike White will lead the Jets’ offense again on Sunday, but Zach Wilson played a big role leading up to the game against the Bills.
Wilson, still recovering from a sprained right posterior cruciate ligament, ran the practice team and had to "simulate" being Bills quarterback Josh Allen. They’re two different players, but Wilson apparently made some plays that could help the defense — coming off a horrendous performance on Nov. 4 in Indianapolis — when they actually face Allen.
"You get those moments every other play with Zach, just what he’s capable of becoming and being and just the movement and off-schedule," defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. "We’re asking him to simulate Josh Allen and do a lot of scrambling and throw on the move, and it’s really cool to watch. I feel like a fan sometimes out there watching him."
As much as Wilson, who is itching to return to playing, may have helped prepare the Jets (2-6) for what they will face, they will see an even more driven Allen and the Bills inside MetLife Stadium.
The Bills (5-3) are coming off a terrible offensive performance, mustering only a pair of field goals in a loss to the Jaguars. Allen, who finished second in the MVP voting last season, threw two interceptions and fumbled once.
Coach Robert Saleh said the Jets will be facing a "team who’s probably a little [ticked] off."
The Jets’ defense could be described in a similar fashion. Saleh said they were an "embarrassment" against Indianapolis. The Jets allowed 532 yards, including 260 on the ground, and six touchdowns on the Colts’ first seven possessions in a 45-30 loss.
It was the second time in three games that the defense didn’t show up. The Patriots put up 551 yards and 54 points in the game in which Wilson injured his knee.
Other words used during the week by defensive players and coaches were "pride" and "soul-searching."
"You definitely take that personal," linebacker C.J. Mosley said about the defense’s play against the Colts. "Guys have to do some soul-searching this week. It’s easy to start letting things get a little lax when it’s not going your way.
"At this point, in my opinion, we’re not playing to just improve our record. We’re not really playing to show that we’re capable of playing against teams and win games. We need to prove it to ourselves that we’re capable of playing good, sound football every single day."
Buffalo is fourth in the NFL in scoring at 29.4 points per game and has a talented receiving group that includes Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley. They have totaled 127 catches and eight touchdowns. Tight end Dawson Knox (team-high five touchdowns) is returning from a hand injury that kept him out of two games.
The running game is the weakest component of Buffalo’s offense, but Allen makes up for that. The dual-threat quarterback has run for 1,881 yards and 28 touchdowns in 51 career games. He also is one of the better quarterbacks at making throws on the run.
The Jets have talked all week about winning the "second play" and "plastering." They know Allen can make strong throws on the move, and the Jets’ defensive backs need to stay plastered to the receivers and not allow them to break free for a big pass play off Allen’s scrambles.
"The challenge in playing Josh is the fact that you have to defend two plays in one," Saleh said. "We have to be great up front with regards to our rush lanes and keeping him in the pocket. And we have to be great in the back end with regards to plaster and staying connected to our coverage and understand that you’re not defending three plays, you’re not defending three seconds, you’re defending upwards of around 10.
"You have to strain."
Roster moves. The Jets activated punter Braden Mann and offensive lineman Conor McDermott and placed offensive lineman Chuma Edoga on injured reserve. They also elevated tight end Kenny Yeboah, fullback Nick Bawden and defensive ends Hamilcar Rashed and Ronnie Blair from the practice squad.