Sam Darnold
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

Michael Nania lists the New York Jets’ best and worst players against the Buffalo Bills, and stacks up the roster according to each player’s impact on the team’s performance to date.

Studs and duds + season-long roster rankings:

Week 1 at Buffalo Bills

Week 2 vs. San Francisco 49ers

Week 3 at Indianapolis Colts

Week 4 vs. Denver Broncos

Week 5 vs. Arizona Cardinals

Week 6 at Miami Dolphins

Each week this season, I will be laying out my picks for the Jets’ best and worst-performing players from their previous game – but with a twist. Each player listed as a “stud” will receive a positive score ranging from 1 (solid) to 5 (dominant) based on their impact level, while each player listed as a “dud” will receive a negative score ranging from -1 (below average) to -5 (horrendous). The sum of all players’ scores will be equal to the Jets’ scoring margin from the game.

As the season progresses, we will get an increasingly good look at each player’s contribution to the team’s success (or lack thereof) up to that point.

Here are my studs and duds from the Jets’ 18-10 loss to the Bills. The Jets lost by 8 points (finally, a loss by only one touchdown!), so the scores below add up to -8.

At the end of the piece is a ranking of the season-long scores for each player, showcasing the team’s most valuable and most detrimental players on the year.

Duds

Brian Poole: -1

I must have some sort of jinx superpower. After lauding Poole for being one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks over the past three weeks, his hot streak came to an end against Buffalo. Poole allowed 5-of-6 passing in his direction for 63 yards and three first downs. That’s the most yardage that Poole has yielded in a game as a Jet. His previous high was 49.

Blessuan Austin: -3

One look at Austin’s coverage stats suggests that he was amazing: 1-of-3 passing for six yards and one first down over 50 snaps in coverage.

Unfortunately, that is misleading. Austin was very lucky that his coverage numbers did not end up looking much worse. First off, he played a big part in allowing a 38-yard completion to Tyler Kroft that would have been a touchdown if Kroft did not stumble to the ground untouched. Bradley McDougald was credited with that one for vacating his outside third responsibility to pick up another route, but I’d argue it was more on Austin, who picked up Kroft’s wheel route and then strangely decided to drop down to the man in the flat when he saw Josh Allen begin to wind up, leaving Kroft wide open. He probably thought McDougald would be there. Either way, bad play.

Austin made a similar mistake earlier in the game, biting on the underneath route from his outside-third responsibility and allowing an easy 22-yard touchdown to Gabriel Davis. Fortunately, an illegal formation penalty called it back.

Against the run, Austin coughed up a huge 26-yard scamper to Zack Moss in the fourth quarter that set the Bills up in the red zone. Austin zeroed in on his man and followed him towards the middle of the field as he blocked down, completely oblivious to the run, allowing Moss to zoom straight by him.

Austin also had a bad missed tackle on an Isaiah McKenzie jet sweep. Fortunately, Poole made a great tackle to prevent it from going any longer than eight yards.

Sam Darnold: -3

This was far from Darnold’s worst game of the season, but it was still a poor one, as I broke down in my weekly Sam Darnold Grades.

Darnold posted an abysmal stat-line, going 12-of-23 for 120 yards (5.2 Y/A), no touchdowns, and two interceptions. That equates to a 31.1 passer rating, the second-worst of his career.

While Darnold wasn’t quite that atrocious, he was still bad. His adjusted completion percentage – which accounts for drops, throwaways, batted passes, etc. – was just 68.4%, which ranked 25th out of 28 qualified quarterbacks in Week 7. The interception he threw at the end of the first half was horrendous, as was his missed touchdown opportunity to a wide-open Mims in the flat on the opening drive.

George Fant: -3

Yeah, I definitely have the gift of jinxing abilities. After I praised Fant for his work at left tackle in Miami last week, he moved back to his native right tackle and struggled in protection against Buffalo. The Bills exposed Fant’s susceptibilities to power and inside moves, clearly learning from their first matchup against him. Fant was tagged with allowing five pressures over the team’s 35 protection snaps (14.3%) and also had a holding penalty. He was also involved in quite a few miscommunications that allowed unblocked rushers through – whether or not those were on Fant, we don’t know for sure, of course. Fant did have a nice game as a run blocker, though, as did most of the line.

Bradley McDougald: -3

McDougald’s performance this season warrants a spot on the bench.

Against the Bills, McDougald was tagged with allowing 3-of-4 passing for 63 yards and three first downs. He also had a brutal ratio of one tackle to two missed tackles.

McDougald is Pro Football Focus’ lowest-graded qualified safety this season (41.0 overall grade), well-deserved as he has allowed the third-most yards per target among qualifiers at the position (12.9) and has the second-highest missed tackle rate against the run (38.5%).

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Josh Andrews: -5

Yikes, yikes, yikes. That’s pretty much all that could possibly come out of your mouth while watching Andrews’ performance against the Bills.

Andrews was by far the biggest culprit in the Jets offensive line’s brutal game in protection. He was tagged with allowing nine pressures over the team’s 35 protection snaps, a whopping 25.7%! That’s the worst rate allowed in a game this season by a starting offensive lineman at any position.

In addition to constantly being defeated one-on-one, Andrews had zero chemistry with the rest of the line. He failed to pick up stunts and blitzes, struggled with passing off and exchanging rushers, and poorly executed combo blocks in the run game.

The offensive line would have looked substantially better – probably even decent – simply by swapping out Andrews for Alex Lewis.

Studs


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