Bills vs Patriots: The Good & Bad of NFL Week 1


Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Each week of the NFL season we’ll look at the good and bad of the Buffalo Bills. After their Week 1 loss to the New England Patriots on a last second field goal on Sunday afternoon there’s plenty to talk about.

The Good:

E.J. Manuel

E.J. Manuel did not look overwhelmed in his NFL début against the might New England Patriots. While not spectacular, Manuel finished the game 18-of-27 with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Manuel avoided mistakes, which was a key to the Bills near upset of the heavily favored Patriots. Whether due to game planning, or Manuel’s on hesitance to throw the ball deep, he threw for just 150 yards despite his efficiency, mustering just 5.5 yards per pass attempt.

The lack of any deep threat in the passing game allowed New England to crowd the box, and clog up the running games of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.

While Manuel didn’t do anything to truly put the Bills in a position to win, he didn’t manage to lose the game for the team which is something many recent Bills quarterbacks couldn’t say. All in all it was a successful NFL début that both Manuel and the Bills can build upon.

Fred Jackson

Coming into this season it appeared as if Fred Jackson’s role with the Bills would be greatly diminished. However in Week 1 against the Patriots, he reminded us all why he was able to keep C.J. Spiller from seizing the starting job for so long, as he carried the Bills’ rushing attack in the second half. Jackson led the team with 67 rushing yards and tacked on 41 receiving yards acting as a safety valve for his rookie QB.

If you’re a C.J. Spiller fantasy owner, I wouldn’t be getting too nervous about Jackson taking a larger role quite yet, but maybe keep your eye on Jackson on the waiver wire just in case you need to make a move!

The Bad:

C.J. Spiller

Last season C.J. Spiller averaged 6.0 YPC, second in the league only to the great Adrian Peterson. His strong campaign led to increased expectations for the young half back, as he was suddenly considered among the elite rushers in the league.

His first game as the “star” of the show got off to just about the worst start possible as he fumbled on just his second touch of the game. Spiller was never able to recover from the fumble, putting up just 41 yards on 17 carries in the game.

While you may want to dismiss it as just one game, it was Spiller’s worst in over a year. His 2.4 YPC for the game would have been his worst game last season, the only game coming close being the season finale against the NY Jets wherein he ran for just 2.5 YPC.

I have full faith in Spiller to put things together before the next game, and he will have to if this Bills offense has any chance of being effective.

Doug Marrone’s Game Plan

While I’m a Doug Marrone fan thus far into his Bills career, his first start as a head coach left me with some concerns.

Firstly, Marrone often had the Bills offense running a hurry up style game, pushing the Patriots defense to the line of scrimmage quickly in hopes of tiring them out.

I have no problems with running this type of attack in the right situation, but when the offense is struggling and Tom Brady is the opposing quarterback, the time-of-possession game is much more important. Any advantage from tiring out the defense was quickly nullified when the Patriots got the ball, and went to work milking the clock like they do so well.

Marrone would have been better served slowing things down, and attempting to get the rushing game going, and keep the ball out of Tom Brady’s hands as much as possible.

That being said, I have full faith that Marrone will take a look at game tape from the loss, find what worked and what didn’t, and come back better prepared with a more effective game plan for the Bills Week 2 match up with the Carolina Panthers.