Losses, ugly of­fenses, QB un­cer­tainty mark Bills-Jets

The Norwalk Hour - - NFL -

EAST RUTHER­FORD, N.J. — Even the most diehard of Bills and Jets fans might have a tough time get­ting fired up about this one.

Strug­gling of­fenses, quar­ter­back ques­tions and los­ing streaks are the ugly sto­ry­lines mark­ing the lat­est matchup of AFC East ri­vals, the first of their two meet­ings this sea­son.

“It’s the NFL and any­body can be beat in this league,” Jets safety Ja­mal Adams said. “You’ve def­i­nitely got to show up each and every Sun­day. It doesn’t mat­ter what the num­bers are.”

Well, they aren’t very good — for ei­ther side — when it comes to of­fense.

The Bills (2-7) have the 31st-ranked over­all unit and have been deal­ing with a quar­ter­back carousel all sea­son, and were try­ing to fig­ure out late in the week where it would stop this time.

Rookie Josh Allen has missed three games with a sprained right throw­ing el­bow, vet­eran Derek An­der­son was in con­cus­sion pro­to­col, and turnover­prone Nathan Peter­man has been healthy but in­ef­fec­tive, to put it mildly. He com­pleted a ca­reer-high 31 passes last week against Chicago, but also had three in­ter­cep­tions in the 41-9 rout by the Bears.

It has been a prob­lem all sea­son no mat­ter who has been un­der cen­ter for the Bills, who have lost four straight. They have scored two touch­downs in their last four games, and been outscored 103-20 in their last three.

“Well, you know, the re­sult, ob­vi­ously, is not what we want it to be on the of­fen­sive side,” coach Sean McDer­mott said. “We’ve got to con­tinue to find ways to cre­ate things, to cre­ate sep­a­ra­tion, to cre­ate wins in the 1-on-1 game, whether it’s the run game or the pass game. You al­ways look at your­self first. I ex­pect my­self and our coaches to look at our­selves first, and I ex­pect the play­ers to look at them­selves first.

“Col­lec­tively, though, we have to do a bet­ter job.”

The Jets (3-6) know the feel­ing.

Todd Bowles’ bunch has echoed those sen­ti­ments dur­ing the team’s sec­ond three-game skid of the sea­son.

“We’re kind of re­al­iz­ing that it’s a time to come closer to­gether as a team, as a fam­ily and as a brother­hood,” de­fen­sive line­man Leonard Wil­liams said. “When times are start­ing to get hard, that’s when we’ve got to face ad­ver­sity arm in arm and face it as a team.”

It ap­pears they’ll have to do it with­out rookie Sam Darnold, who is deal­ing with a foot strain that could side­line him a few weeks. Darnold leads the league with 14 in­ter­cep­tions, so 39-year-old Josh McCown might be what the Jets need to get things back on track for the league’s 29th-ranked of­fense.

“I’ll go out and ex­pect to play to my stan­dard and to the stan­dard of this foot­ball team,” McCown said, “and win a foot­ball game.”

Here are other things to know about the Bills-Jets matchup at MetLife Sta­dium:

THE REAL MCCOY?

Bills run­ning back LeSean McCoy is off to the worst start of his ca­reer with just 267 yards rush­ing and has yet to score.

OH, SNAP!

The strug­gles of Jets cen­ter Spencer Long have epit­o­mized New York’s prob­lems on of­fense.

Long has been try­ing to play through an in­jured right mid­dle fin­ger on his snap­ping hand, and things re­ally came to a head last week when he had sev­eral way­ward snaps out of the shot­gun. Bowles fi­nally pulled him for Jonot­than Har­ri­son late in the game, and Long could find him­self on the side­line again this week.

FA­MIL­IAR FACE

The Bills were so des­per­ate for re­ceiver help they thrust Ter­relle Pryor on the field five days af­ter sign­ing him. That came two weeks af­ter the Jets cut him with an in­jury set­tle­ment be­cause of an ail­ing groin.

ELI RE­TURNS

Sec­ond-year run­ning back Eli­jah McGuire had 30 yards on seven car­ries and three catches for 37 yards for the Jets in his sea­son de­but af­ter spend­ing the first eight games on in­jured re­serve with a bro­ken foot.

BRIGHT SPOT

Buf­falo’s de­fense ranks third over­all in the NFL, in­clud­ing third against the pass and 11th against the run.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Nick Mul­lens re­mem­bers get­ting the phone call from Archie Man­ning invit­ing him to the pres­ti­gious Man­ning Pass­ing Academy two sum­mers ago.

Mul­lens sa­vored the chance to take part in the four-day clinic run by Archie and his two NFL quar­ter­back sons, Eli and Pey­ton. Mul­lens es­pe­cially rel­ished the op­por­tu­nity to watch Eli Man­ning take part in some of the drills.

“To see how he moves in the pocket, he has very quick feet and is just very smooth,” Mul­lens said. “I def­i­nitely re­mem­ber just sit­ting there and watch­ing him throw. I took that all in.”

Mul­lens now will get an­other chance to see Man­ning up close when he makes his sec­ond ca­reer start for the San Fran­cisco 49ers (2-7) on Mon­day night against Man­ning and the New York Gi­ants (1-7).

Mul­lens is com­ing off a scin­til­lat­ing de­but, com­plet­ing 16 of 22 passes for 262 yards, three touch­downs and no in­ter­cep­tions for a 151.9 passer rat­ing in a 34-3 vic­tory over the Oak­land Raiders. That’s the high­est rat­ing since the merger for a player in his de­but with at least 20 at­tempts.

Things might not be as easy now that the Gi­ants have an idea of what Mul­lens can do.

“I think they’re go­ing to be like, ‘Oh crap. This guy is good,’ ” run­ning back Matt Breida said. “I think they’ll put more peo­ple back there to cover be­cause of the throws he made and can

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