EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills went from a 4-0 start to a two-game skid in a span of seven tough days.
That might be a bit unnerving to some teams. But with a road game against the winless New York Jets up next, the Bills are keeping things in proper perspective.
“We’re not going to panic,” Allen said. “We’re going to stay solid in our locker room and be a family. We’re 4-2 and we understand that we’ve got to stay ahead of the curve and get things rolling. It’s no panic, but there is a sense of urgency in this locker room that we have to be better, myself included.
“Myself leading that charge.”
Allen and the Bills (4-2) opened the season with a dominant 27-17 victory over the Jets, who have since gotten even worse during an 0-6 start. Buffalo ripped off three more wins before its schedule was adjusted by the NFL, forcing the Bills into a Tuesday night game against Tennessee — which caused the shifts because of a coronavirus outbreak — followed by a Monday night game against Kansas City.
Buffalo isn’t making any excuses, but the disruptions in practice and preparations to face the teams that played in last season’s AFC championship weren’t ideal. The Bills can get things righted in a big way Sunday at MetLife Stadium when they take on a Jets team that is the NFL’s only squad without a win.
“The talent gap from the best team to the worst teams in the league is this,” Buffalo cornerback Tre’Davious White said while holding his thumb and index finger a few centimeters apart. “They’re professionals and we’ve got to treat them as such.”
Meanwhile, Jets coach Adam Gase remains squarely on the hot seat. Some believed last week’s dismal display in a 24-0 loss at Miami would seal Gase’s fate, but he’s still in charge. But it’s tough to envision things getting better anytime soon.
New York is 0-6 for the first time since 1996, when that squad began 0-8 en route to a franchise-worst 1-15 season.
“When you’re at this point, when you say everything’s on the table, you’re trying to find a way to put one good one together, where all three phases are playing complementary football,” Gase said. “We’ve had moments, but we haven’t had enough.”
BACK TO EARTH
Allen has cooled a bit after his hot start, with his 122 yards passing against the Chiefs fewer than he had in any half this season. The 42 in the first half were also the second fewest in the first half of his career after throwing for just 39 in a 24-17 loss at Baltimore on Dec. 8, 2019.
“I don’t think there’s one exact reason,” offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said. “He’s made some really nice plays, too. We’ve all got to do a better job. I’ll do a better job of getting him into a rhythm. And I have all the confidence in the world in Josh.”
Still, Allen’s 16 TD throws are the most in team history through the first six games of a season. He has also completed TD passes to 10 players, one short of a team record.
Jets quarterback Sam Darnold has missed the last two games with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder, but Gase expressed optimism early in the weekthat he might have a chance to play against Buffalo.
If not, Joe Flacco would make his third straight start in Darnold’s place. The 35-year-old quarterback hasn’t been able to jumpstart the Jets’ struggling offense, though. He’s 41 of 79 (51.9%) for 397 yards and one TD and one INT this season.
“Obviously, you give the priority to Sam in terms of the reps and things like that,” Flacco said. “I’ve just got to stay mentally locked in and make sure I’m going through as much of the week as I can like I’m going to play.”
The Bills and Jets have been complete opposites when it comes to a crucial stat: third-down conversions.
Buffalo leads the NFL in that category with a success rate of 56.2%, helping the Bills consistently sustain drives. The Jets, meanwhile, are last in the league with a 30.23% conversion rate on third downs. That includes New York going 2 of 17 in those situations last Sunday at Miami.
RUNNING ON EMPTY
Buffalo’s running game has topped 100 yards just twice this season, and hasn’t done so in three straight — the Bills’ longest drought since a four-game stretch from Sept. 21-Oct. 12, 2014.
The Bills also are tied for last in the NFL with just one rush of 20 or more yards all season: a 34-yard gain by T.J. Yeldon against Tennessee. Starting running back Devin Singletary is averaging only 3.8 yards per carry with 270 yards on 71 carries.
“We’re looking hard at that over the last couple of weeks, in particular the last three weeks,” coach Sean McDermott said. “And it’s something we have to be able to do better.”