(SportsNetwork.com) – When you’re 2-8, there’s a lot of time for what-ifs.
And that’s been the most productive hobby for the New York Jets in recent days
while fielding questions about whether their lost season would have gone a
trifle differently had they pulled the trigger on a quarterback change –
benching second-year man Geno Smith for veteran Michael Vick – a bit sooner.
Coach Rex Ryan was a steadfast defender of the scattershot Smith through the
initial seven games of the season, before sending him to the sidelines after
he threw three interceptions on eight passes in the first quarter of what
turned into a 43-23 home loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 8.
The Jets visit the Bills for a Week 12 rematch, presumably on Sunday.
Vick didn’t do enough in the substitute role to engineer a rallying win –
ultimately committing three turnovers of his own — but he completed 18-of-36
passes for 153 yards and ran eight times for another 69 yards as New York
compiled a per-rush average of 5.3 yards on the way to a ground total of 175.
“We were in the game and we put ourselves in a position to win the game, but
it was all about turnovers,” Vick said. “You can go through it and hope that
it’s not going to be the same.”
The Jets ran for 139 yards the following week in a 14-point loss to Kansas
City, then had 150 on the ground in a 20-13 upset of Pittsburgh prior to a
Week 11 bye. Vick threw for two touchdowns against the Steelers, including a
67-yarder to T.J. Graham.
The ease of the victory – New York had a 17-0 lead at one point – has turned
the attention to Ryan, and why he didn’t make the switch at a time when it
might have still given the Jets a chance for relevance.
“You can easily say, ‘Oh, well, we should’ve done this,’ now,” Ryan said. “At
the same time, I was comfortable in my decision, not just with Michael, but
with the other ones as well. So, I’m not going to spend time looking back.”
The first order of business looking forward is whether the Jets will actually
play on Sunday.
The Bills’ home facility in Orchard Park, N.Y. was deeply impacted – literally
— by the preposterous amount of snow that hit the Buffalo area early in the
week, which has forced the team to call in any support necessary to get Ralph
Wilson Stadium unburied in time for the 1 p.m. kickoff.
Some reports peg the final precipitation total at six feet.
Fans have been offered game tickets in exchange for help with shoveling, as
part of an effort that’s got three shifts of people working around the clock.
Both a postponement to another date and a change of venue are worst-case
scenario options if the snow hangs on through the weekend.
“We are working with the Bills to determine the status of the stadium,” NFL
spokesman Michael Signora said. “If a change to the schedule needs to be made,
the league will make the decision working closely with the club and local
The Bills did not practice Wednesday. In fact, coach Doug Marrone, who coached
at another state snow capital in Syracuse, wasn’t able to get closer than five
miles to the stadium.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “It’s very difficult to put into
words exactly what’s going on. Us being able to go out and practice is
obviously not an option for us. This is very challenging. It’s a tough,
The defeat of the Jets got the Bills to 5-3 heading into their bye, but
they’re returned for consecutive losses to Kansas City and Miami that have
left hopes for ending a 14-season playoff drought in jeopardy.
Quarterback Kyle Orton is probable with a toe injury and comes in off a 22-
for-39 performance against the Dolphins for 193 yards and no touchdowns. The
veteran replaced Buffalo’s own iffy second-year signal-caller, EJ Manuel,
before the Jets pulled the plug on Smith.
Orton threw for four touchdowns in the first game with New York.
Running back Fred Jackson remains questionable with the groin problem that
held him to three carries for 10 yards against the Chiefs and forced him to
miss the Miami loss.
“We need all hands on deck,” Jackson said. “I need 100 percent for me to be
out there and help my teammates. I think they want me out there. I want to be
out there. I want to try to make some plays and get this thing turned around.
We lost to two that we’ll be fighting for position with, but there’s always a
chance. And anytime you have a chance, you’re going to show up and fight.
That’s what I expect out of the guys in this locker room. And that’s what I’m
definitely going to do.”
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Presuming the game is played and presuming he’s able to take part, Jackson
figures to be a pain in the groin for a Jets defense that habitually struggles
to defend pass-catching running backs. Jackson didn’t play in the initial
matchup with New York, but he’s got 37 catches for 300 yards in the eight
games he has played – including multiple receptions in each of those
The Renaissance of Michael
Old No. 7 has shown off some young legs since taking the quarterback reins for
the Jets, reeling off 126 rush yards, averaging 6.2 yards per carry and
becoming the first NFL passer to reach the 6,000-yard career rushing
milestone. A heavy lean on the run game could be a necessity given weather
conditions, and recent QB foes Ryan Tannehill and Alex Smith combined for 41
yards on eight carries.
They’re 2-8 and heading for little other than a locker-room housecleaning at
the end of the season, but the Jets have shown some tangible signs of life
since making Vick the starter and acquiring Percy Harvin.
Just where that rise intersects with the Bills’ semi-regular free-fall in the
second half of the season will determine New York’s fate. But it says here
that ugly weather could yield an ugly win.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Jets 20, Bills 17