Well that was a defensive masterclass by your Buffalo Bills. Yes, I know they took advantage of eye-searingly bad performances by Geno Smith and Michael Vick, but they did it.
The pass rush looked good. The run defense was aggressive and hard-hitting. The secondary made plays, including Stephon Gilmore snaring a pick and breaking up a mean pass. Leodis McKelvin is, all of the sudden, legitimately looking like a good cornerback.
And perhaps most telling, you knew the day was going to be a winner when Preston Brown looked like the second-coming of London Fletcher-Baker with an interception at linebacker. He had struggled against the pass, but not today.
The Buffalo Bills are 5-3 going into the bye week. While there’s plenty to worry about, there’s also plenty to like and a bevy of winnable games before things get tight. And two weeks to prepare for Kansas City.
[ MORE: Week 8 Bills rap ]
– Let’s start with the complaints, which largely have to do with a horrible, horrible run game. If you thought Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller were underperforming, well, now we have an answer as to why. By the time the Bills started a drive with 11 minutes to go in the 4th quarter, Frank Summer was their leading rusher in yards-per-carry with 2 (on 1 carry). Anthony Dixon couldn’t generate anything and Bryce Brown didn’t fare much better. There wasn’t much push going on.
I swear first contact for the Bills backs was with the backs of their own offensive linemen more often than not. Gross.
– We now have a solid read on Kyle Orton, Bills quarterback. He’s capable of brilliant passes, is going to pull the ball down and take a sack rather than risk anything questionable, and isn’t going to get your chances to win a game killed. No, I still don’t like his chances in a game where he’s forced to deal dimes “against” an above-average quarterback, but that’s not his skill set. It’s the defense’s duty, and Orton just has to take advantage of the other team’s mistakes.
Really, you have Orton for what he did in the second half. Don’t panic. Don’t take risks. Just navigate the rest of a game against a bad team you should beat. He’s Fitz without the gunslinging. That’ll do, Kyle. For now.
– That said, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is not bathing in glory today. This game should’ve been buried in the first half (a period where Orton honestly didn’t shine overall, but was not the No.1 problem). Against an offense worth its salt, it could’ve been tied or worse heading into the fourth quarter. This run, run, pass thing is brutal.
– Jim Schwartz did a good job of taking an uncomfortable Jets offense and inviting them to do things they’d rather not. Combine strong 3- and 4-man rushes, and Buffalo’s secondary was allowed to breathe a bit. Good job, coach.
– Seriously with McKelvin? I’d say I’m eating crow right now, but really he’s matured into something decent over the past few weeks. Maybe it’s as simple as his not dropping interceptions that hit him in the hands — and he didn’t really ‘drop’ the overturned pick, so to speak — but one of the most fun personalities in the Bills locker room has been showtime for about a month. Not too shabby.
– Could Buffalo have tried harder to get the Jets back in the game in the first half’s final two minutes? First you had Orton’s ball-pat marathon that lead to a sack on 2nd down, then Nathaniel Hackett’s choice to run Anthony Dixon on 3rd-and-long. Maybe it was lack of confidence in his offensive line, but letting the clock run down to punt was saying, “Well, we have no faith Orton will throw for a first down, so we’ll let the Jets have a minute to get into field goal range.” Unacceptable.
– I bet the actions of Sammy Watkins on his touchdown didn’t ingratiate himself with the fans who wanted to crush him for showboating before the end zone on his early 84-yard reception. I’ll be honest, though: I’m over it. You could see Watkins looking up at the scoreboard as he tried to get into the end zone, and he slowed down. I don’t like it any more than any of you, but until I see what he saw, I can’t really rain down judgment on him. Rookie mistake that he seemed to toss back into the fray when he slowed up on his second score.
He’s really good at football.
– Nigel Bradham did not have himself a ball game. After taking a penalty for taunting on a play he was barely a part of, Bradham doubled down with 2 minutes to go in the half with a roughing the passer call. Sprung free on Michael Vick, Bradham tried the “maybe I can make it look like I’m batting down a pass and still slap Vick in the face” play. It was inadvisable, see-through and called.
– Vick is 34 years old, and can still make defenses look foolish with his legs. He can also still fumble with the worst of them, so there’s that.
The big question: When your team gets you 7 turnovers, many in prime field position, should you win by more than 20?
The bigger question: Is anyone buying into Orton as the second-coming of Rich Gannon?
Three things I liked…
1. The defensive line
2. The secondary
3. Orton’s second half.
Three things that troubled me…
1. The running game/play calls
2. Wimpy coaching decisions
3. Watkins rookie mistake
The entire defense
– If we could give the biggest piece to Gilmore and the smallest piece to Bradham, that would be cool. Bradham made a lot of plays, but made several poor decisions, too.
That game was longer than “Braveheart” by a solid 20 minutes. Director’s cut.
Bye week. Then… KC at home, at Miami, home to Jets and Cleveland. Those are all potential wins.