The Buffalo Bills fell 27-20 to the New York Jets in the Meadowlands on Sunday afternoon. While the score would have you believe that the Bills were at least in the game, that wasn’t really the case as they were thoroughly outplayed on offense, defense, and special teams (although Dan Carpenter did have himself a day). As per usual I’m going to take a look at the Bills day, and give my thoughts on what was an ugly game.
1) Could The Injuries Get Any Worse?
Many in Bills-land lamented the tough injurt luck that had struck the team thus far in the NFL season, little did we all know that our whining about injuries was going to bring on the wrath of the Football Gods in the form of an injury tidal wave that would sweep across all facets of the team. By the time the game ended last night in the Meadowlands, the Bills quite literally hobbled back to their bus with 12 players now injured. Here’s hoping the newest injuries aren’t terribly serious and that the likes of C.J. Spiller, Mario Williams, and Leodis McKelvin will be able to suit up next Sunday against Baltimore (mostly because I’m heading to the Ralph to watch and would really like to see a competitive game).
2) C.J. Needs To Figure It Out
Around the NFL, it was a preseason consensus that Bills RB C.J. Spiller was poised to finally live up to his lofty draft pick status. After averaging 6 yards per carry last season in a limited role, Spiller was going to break out as the featured back for the Bills this season and join the NFL elite. Through 3 weeks of the NFL season Spiller has looked absolutely ordinary. Before he was injured yesterday, Spiller managed just 9 yards on 10 carries, while not be David Wilson bad, is pretty terrible. If the Bills are going to have any success, they need to establish a solid run game in order to open up the pass for rookie EJ Manuel.
No one expects Spiller to be Adrian Peterson or LeSean McCoy, but the Bills need him to be better than what he has been thus far (which shouldn’t be hard). Spiller has looked hesitant in hitting the holes, and has been tackled for far too many losses. If he does continue to struggle, expect to see more and more of the reliable, but unspectacular Fred Jackson as the season wears on.
3) E.J. Manuel – Work In Progress
Last week, the game winning drive orchestrated by Manuel led many to overlook what was a very mediocre game by the rookie QB. He was inaccurate, and was unable to sustain very many long drives for the Bills, but he sustained the one that mattered and they won the game, so it was brushed aside. This week, Manuel once again struggled with his accuracy, most notably with any deep ball, which he several times threw to places that his receiver had absolutely no chance of making a play on (i.e. 4 yards out of bounds). Manuel’s in ability to throw the deep ball has been his greatest flaw thus far through 3 weeks of NFL play, and is something that Bills fans will need to keep an eye on going forward.
Another area for improvement for Manuel is his play out of the read-option. The Bills have run the read option a number of times, although Manuel has properly executed it on very few. Almost every instance of the read option in the Bills offense finished with Manuel handing off the ball, no matter what the defense was giving them. This led to a number of negative, or no yards plays for his running backs when he had an open lane that would have been easy yards had he kept the ball. Whether he reluctance to keep the ball is due to his own averseness or design by the coaching staff isn’t clear, what is clear is that it has to change.
4) Disappearing Defensive Pressure
With members of the Bills secondary dropping like flies, the Bills defense more than ever requires that they get to the opposing quarterback in order to be successful, something they utterly failed at yesterday. With Geno Smith able to stand in the pocket all day, he went through his progressions and waited for one of his WR’s to get open, which was inevitable given the state of the Bills secondary.
After their performance last week against the Panthers, expectations were raised for the Bills pass rush, and like we should have all predicted they came up small, and were unable to bother the Jets rookie QB at all. With both Mario Williams and Marcel Dareus hobbled by injuries, don’t expect this units performance to get any better.