It was Tuel Time at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday, and it went just about as well as I imagined when it was announced that Thad Lewis was out and it would be Jeff Tuel not Matt Flynn making the start for the Bills against the Kansas City Chiefs and their stingy defense.
That vaunted Chiefs scored two defensive touchdowns, including an unforgivable interception thrown by Tuel, and Ryan Succop kicked three field goals to down the Bills by a score of 23-13. The Chiefs improved to 9-0 on the season, and are the only undefeated team remaining in the NFL. Despite the win and unblemished record, KC’s offense was again struggled, showing why many were expecting a Bills upset on Sunday.
The Report Card
OFFENSE – C
Sunday was a tale of two offenses for the Bills. There was C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson running rampant over the Chiefs vaunted defense to the tune of 241 rushing yards. The Bills run game has been solid all year long and that didn’t change today. The one major blemish came just before Tuel’s costly interception when Fred Jackson was unable to punch the ball in on first or second down from the goal line, but it was an otherwise excellent day for the ground attack.
The other side of the coin was the passing game. While some were quick to defend Jeff Tuel as it was his first career start and he is an undrafted rookie, I on the other hand take the view of if he’s a starting quarterback, he should play like one. Tuel went 18 of 39 for 229 yards, including a 59 yard touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin. While these numbers aren’t great, they actually show Tuel in a better light than the actual game did. Tuel consistenly misread the defense and misfired throws while showing very little zip on any of his passes. I don’t know what Matt Flynn could possibly have done to not look better than Tuel in practice, because man that wasn’t fun to watch.
The 100-yard pick six that Tuel threw was absolutely inexcusable. Tuel stared down his receiver, and threw the ball right into the chest of the defender. If Tuel had scanned the field even momentarily, he would have seen Stevie Johnson standing without a defender within 10 yards in waiting in the back of the endzone. Instead it was 7 points on the board for the Chiefs.
DEFENSE – A
The Bills held the Chiefs to 210 total yards and just 15 first downs on the day (only 3 successful third down conversions). They allowed just 9 points to be put on the board against them (while the Bills offense allowed the Chiefs to score 14), and quite literally did everything they could to will a Jeff Tuel led offense to victory.
Alas their herculean efforts were all for naught as the Bills offense couldn’t pick up the little amount of slack needed for the victory. The Bills front seven was once again solid, with rookie Kiko Alonso notching a sack and adding to his rooie of the year candidacy.
There’s not really much to say about the defense other than they were great, so we’ll just leave it at that.
COACHING – C-
While I’m sure they had their reasons for doing so, I find the decision to start Jeff Tuel perplexing. While he may know the offense a little better then the recently signed Matt Flynn, Tuel is a terrible quarterback which should factor into the decision making process when deciding whom will start at quarterback for your NFL team.
Aside from the Tuel decision, the play calling ahead of Tuel’s terrible pick six was perplexing. Sitting first and goal, the Bills attempted to run Fred Jackson up the gut twice and were stuffed both times. On third down, they decided to go with the aforementioned awful Tuel, and were rewarded thusly. The entire time, the Bills best player, C.J. Spiller, sat on the sideline watching. I realize that Jackson tends to get the majority of short yardage carries, but after being stuffed twice, giving Spiller and opportunity is a much more palatable option than allow Jeff Tuel attempt to pass the ball right?