The preseason doesn’t matter, right? Save it. The Buffalo Bills continued their sleepwalk into the regular season Sunday, dropping the opener for the fifth time in the last seven seasons.
Looking at the final stat lines doesn’t begin to tell the story of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s day at MetLife Stadium. For most of Sunday’s season opener against the New York Jets, Fitzpatrick was a boy lost in a man’s world.
Fans were calling for Vince Young to come back. And you know it’s bad when Mark Sanchez shows you up.
Fitzpatrick and Sanchez both threw three touchdown passes in what would be a 48-28 Jets win, but Sanchez got all three of his when it was still a game, well before Fitzpatrick could put anything together. The Bills finally got the ball moving through the air after New York went up 41-7, with Fitzpatrick’s three garbage-time touchdowns matching his three interceptions.
Saying Fitzpatrick couldn’t get comfortable in the pocket would be putting it nicely. He was terrible in the first half and merely bad in the second.
Fitzpatrick forced passes into windows he’d be lucky to hit at a family picnic, let alone with a pass rush in his face and Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie in coverage. He threw to receivers that weren’t even sort-of open, missed reads and was late on his throws. Jets cornerbacks had a field day in the first half — and if they messed up, Fitzpatrick’s throws didn’t make them pay.
The defense wasn’t any better. Mario Williams, Mark Anderson and the new-and-seemingly-unimproved defensive line was invisible. The Bills didn’t have a sack and weren’t even credited with a QB hit.
The secondary got picked apart by Sanchez and a slew of largely unknown receivers. Leodis McKelvin followed Fitzpatrick’s lead of continuing last season’s struggles, getting picked on routinely. Rookie Stephon Gilmore didn’t look good, nor did sophomore Aaron Williams.
For all the time the Bills defense spent worrying about Tim Tebow and the Wildcat offense, Tebow didn’t get to throw once and wasn’t much of a factor. Then again, he didn’t have to be — Sanchez took care of the scoring.
One of the few positives of the game was C.J. Spiller’s career-high 169 yards on just 14 carries (12.1 yards per attempt), though it may have come at the cost of losing Fred Jackson for an extended period of time. We’ll know for certain how bad his knee injury is after an MRI tomorrow, but it looked pretty bad when it happened. Receiver David Nelson’s knee injury could be even worse.
Starting the regular season doesn’t mean there’s some switch the team flips to automatically start playing good football. It’s going to take more practice and more players playing like they should (Mario Williams? Williams? Bueller?). Probably the only good news ahead for the Bills is that Kansas City and Cleveland are the next two opponents on the schedule. But Fitzpatrick and Co. better figure something out soon. If they play like the did Sunday against New England and San Francisco, it’s going get a lot uglier than a 20-point loss.