When consistently watching “their” team, fans can quickly develop preconceived notions that dictate how they view what is happening on the field. You think Player A sucks? You’re going to consistently see every mistake he makes, and will subconsciously ignore his positive contributions.
In order to fend off this tendency, I asked our friends over at Factory of Sadness to give me their perspective on the Bills after their clash with the Browns on Thursday Night Football. Here is what they had to say, along with my thoughts on their thoughts, which is some next level inception stuff.
1. The Bills running game shows signs of being prolific but it was obvious the injuries limited them. While the Browns have a stout run defense the combination of CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson put fear in the hearts of many Browns fans. Even after Spiller’s huge run he limped his way to the sidelines.
It certainly did look like C.J. Spiller was back to his normal self with his big touchdown run. Part of me wanted Spiller to just sit this game out and maximize his rest, as the last thing the Bills need is him not 100% for the rest of the season
2. EJ Manuel is a leader on the team but doesn’t have the accuracy, yet, to lead the team to competition for the playoffs this year. Manuel, before the injury (which I will cover next), had control of the huddle and the team. The Bills never took advantage of his running skills last night, running multiple read options where he always gave up the ball. He seemed to have an opening at least once. Not sure if that was him or the team wanting him to do such. You can see why Bills fans are excited about him though. His throwing motion and accuracy was a concern going into the draft, that development will decide how far the Bills go in the next few years.
Manuel’s lack of willingness to keep the ball on the read option has been a point of frustration for me for much of the year, there have been multiple instances of him giving up the ball when a keeper was clearly the best option in each game this season. For the option to work, the opposition must think there is an option of Manuel keeping the ball, if not, it won’t be effective.
3. Both hits that led to the QB injuries probably riled up the QB’s team and fan base. While Hoyer was starting to slide, the hit to the head was a concerning action. The injury to the knee for Hoyer was nothing dirty and a part of a late slide and a physical game. The Manuel hit was also not dirty, the response by Tashaun Gipson after was inappropriate. He was excited immediately after the hit, fine, but to celebrate Manuel on the ground was inappropriate and discipline, and a flag, should come his way. That both QBs were injured after running for first downs is ironic. The battle of the backups was on.
I didn’t like either hit, but didn’t think they were dirty either. You never want to see a player get hurt, but in both instances the quarterbacks put themselves in a compromised situation. The news came down today that Hoyer is out for the rest of the season, and I’m just hoping that Manuel’s prognosis is better.
4. It was obvious the Bills were missing pieces in their secondary. Browns’ backup Brandon Weeden stared down his receivers all day, not coming off his first read until the pass rush was almost touching him. That the Bills didn’t pick any passes off and allowed a few drives say alot about their injuries. The team has the making of a really solid defense on all levels with Marcell Darues (wow he is big but agile), Mario Williams, Kiko Alonso and different defensive backs. If they can put it together, as the offense grows, they should be a power next year in the East.
The Bills secondary is clearly hobbled, but I don’t think that can excuse the fact they could have been better. While they did shut down the Browns pass game for the most part, it was Brandon Weeden, so it doesn’t really count. After their 5 interception performance last week, I really hoped they could create turnovers again this week.
The team definitely has the foundations for a solid defense, it’s just a matter of getting healthy, executing, and adding some depth before they can make the next step.
5. Jeff Tuel probably shouldn’t be playing in the NFL at all this year from our perspective. He was a deer in the headlights against a powerful defense. While his receivers, specifically Stevie Johnson, were injured, he simply isn’t ready for game action. Kevin Kolb‘s season long injury looks even bigger now. Why the Bills didn’t, or haven’t, brought in a veteran backup to help mentor the 2 rookies is unknown from a national level. After 2 snaps with Tuel it was pretty obvious the Browns were probably going to win the game. Hopefully Manuel returns quickly or the Bills fans will lose momentum quickly.
Jeff Tuel is not an NFL quarterback. I remain blown away that the Bills didn’t reach out for a veteran they were comfortable with to back up Manuel with Kevin Kolb out for the season. With Hoyer’s injury, my wish of Jason Campbell in a Bills uniform is a non-starter, but there has to be someone out there that can step in and not be Jeff Tuel.