The biggest takeaway I initially had from the New York Jets’ thumping of the Buffalo Bills was a) I cannot believe how much money Buffalo paid for its defensive line because Mark Sanchez sat comfortably all day in the pocket, and b) how much money did the Bills give quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick?!
Not a good time to be a Bills fan. (Then again, when is it ever?)
But the Jets were able to dominate the Bills’ defensive front, and Gang Green took full advantage. Sanchez played with poise, exhibited a quick delivery on throws, and his timing was pinpoint. The signal caller hit his receivers in stride on some difficult throws, and showed zip in his release. On both of Sanchez’s first two touchdowns passes, he was able to use the double move and pump fakes to freeze Buffalo’s defensive backs, and once he did, he used impressive arm strength and accuracy, leading the ball perfectly to Jeremy Kerley and Stephen Hill for two touchdowns.
Sanchez led the Jets to 27 first-half points, and showed that his team not only could be explosive, but that they could manufacture points through well-timed routes and be effective on third-downs (they went 10-14 which is unlikely to stay constant, but Sanchez showed he could prolong drives, which is a coveted skill).
Sanchez may have played the best he has ever played, but the breakout star that took most people off guard was second-round pick Stephen Hill. Hill finished with five receptions for 89 yards and a pair of TDs, and looked flat-out dominant against the Bills’ cornerbacks.
Hill showed the versatility and athleticism that prompted the Jets to draft him, and caused headaches for fellow rookie Stephon Gilmore all day. Many are proclaiming Hill’s performance to be a sign of great things to come from the rookie, seeing his tremendous first game as an omen for a breakout first-season. (People are more skeptical of Sanchez, denoting his first game success as a possible anomaly.)
I disagree. I think that, when given the pass protection he was given on Sunday, Sanchez is adept enough to pick a defense apart, and that even his average performance, especially if given the time under center, will not regress too far. Hill showed he has loads of talent, but the preseason showed how raw he is. He was fantastic in Week 1, but rookie struggles and a big regression seem much more plausible given how much of a project he appeared during training camp and preseason.