Immediate Reactions: New England 37, Buffalo 31

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Today may be the day you verified your suspicions about Chan Gailey as a head coach.

— First: Ryan Fitzpatrick. If you’re looking for me to barbecue the non-franchise quarterback after he nearly overcame the world of slop that was his defense and early offensive line play, look elsewhere. You have to hate the interception at the end of the game, but I cannot commit to blaming the quarterback on a throw to a project wide receiver who was seemingly blamed by the color analyst before taking the blame himself.

“They were playing Cover Two, deep half safety. I thought I’d be able to get TJ and wasn’t able to get him,” Fitz said.

Here’s what Graham said, “That was a rookie mistake. I was supposed to cross his face in the front. It was a good pass.”

I don’t expect Fitz to take the blame and even if it’s the fault of Graham, Fitz chose to throw it to the rookie. Still over the past three games — where the Bills have allowed 35, 21 and 37 points — he is 79-of-113 for 801 yds with 5 TD, 2 INT and two fumbles. Try telling me that shouldn’t have at least a ‘W’ on an NFL playoff team (team being the key word). Buffalo should be 4-5 at worst right now and I’m not putting it on No. 14. Not a chance. Four times this year the Bills have scored 28 points or more and lost. Weak sauce.

— Who am I putting it on? Well, despite a historically bad group of linebackers and some horrendous secondary play, I’m going with Chan Gailey. His personnel choices are flat-out mind-boggling. I appreciate Fred Jackson, but right now C.J. Spiller is one of the best, if not the best, non-quarterbacks in the NFL. His understanding of the game and what plays are designed to do has advanced to the status of star.

Yet Gailey consistently gives Fred Jackson the ball more often. Maybe Ralph Wilson has dictated that “restructuring that deal better be worth it”, but 16 carries to nine when the average per-attempt is 5.0 for Jackson and 7.8 for Spiller is just embarrassing. Jackson is not Marshall Faulk and Spiller is not Justin Watson. Jackson is not Willis McGahee to Ray Rice. This is Spiller as a bonafide No. 1 talent and Jackson as an unfortunate 1a. Sorry, but seven more carries is nuts.

Then you take into account how often they pass in “and-goal” situations. The NFL has made moves in that direction and yes, the Bills were 3-for-3 in “and-goal” spots, but why risk it? Well, maybe because Jackson fumbled twice (including the second being on a head shot). He’s fumbled four times and lost three of them this season. All of that brings you back to Jackson getting more carries than Spiller. It makes little sense.

— The Bills took five penalties early in the game, including two bogus — at least dubious — holds on Cordy Glenn & Eric Wood. Logically, the refs aren’t in the bag for New England, but I don’t blame a single Bills fans for saying so.
— I did not hate Stevie Johnson today by any means, but my dislike for his performance (despite the numbers) began with sloppy route running in front of a first-down marker on the game’s first drive. Buffalo also gave Johnson a chance to make a play one-on-one in the end zone in the fourth quarter but Johnson did not fight-through nor rise over the suspect Patriot corner covering him. Nine catches for 86 yards is nice, but it’s not superstar stuff.
— The Bills first six drive starts were at their own 20, 20, 20, 20, 20 and 13. The Pats had two inside Bills territory and lead by a single score at that point. They also had an almost unfathomable end zone PI called on Stephon Gilmore on a drive kept alive twice by suspect secondary calls. Like I said, I get the ‘ref-blamers’ even if I don’t completely run with it as an excuse.
— Another Gailey complaint: during Friday’s media scrum he mentioned that he can’t expect a specific defender — it doesn’t matter who he specified — to play 65 plays in place of Chris Kelsay before stuttering and changing the number to 85 because of his opponent. That sort of no-confidence in his defense was troubling and he backed it up by going for it on 4th & 4 with 4:12 to go in the third quarter. I liked the call, but not the lack of faith that his defense could fix anything during the week.

— Somebody page Mario Williams, mostly absent in another big spot. For the most part I cannot get behind a rip on the defensive line, especially Marcel Dareus and Kyle Williams. The Buffalo Bills linebacking corps is one of the worst in the history of the franchise.

— Not much to say on the Pats, but looking forward to hearing Tom Brady called a fiery leader for yelling at Julian Edelman, as opposed to Jay Cutler being a horrible teammate for doing the same thing.

Stat line I liked…

Scott Chandler, 8 catches, 65 yards, TD

— He’s had his share of drops, but Scott forking Chandler (30 catches, 350 yards, 5 TDs) should probably be an All-Pro this year.

Stat line I didn’t like…

Bills, 14 penalties, 148 yards given away

– A couple of the offensive holding and defensive secondary penalties were borderline ridiculous, but when the calls amount to 14 and 148 yards you cannot ignore that the referees and the Bills produced more yards on the ground than the Patriots.

Game ball(s)…

Ryan Fitzpatrick, 27-of-40 for 337 yards, 2 TD, INT, fumble lost

– The Bills set a franchise record for first downs with 35.


– UB’s on a two-game winning streak and is 3-7 with games at lowly UMass and solid Bowling Green to go. The Bills are 3-6 and their next three are home Miami, at Indy, home Jacksonville. Honest question, who has the better record after both have played 12?

Next week…

– Miami at home in four days. Honestly, the Bills should throttle the Dolphins on a short week at home but who can count on this Buffalo defense to do anything?


7 Responses to Immediate Reactions: New England 37, Buffalo 31

  1. Last time the Bills beat the Pats Fred Jackson was a big part of it. The Pats gameplanned for shifty CJ and got burned by Downhill Fred. In spite of this defense having a Merry Wanny problem, the offense was balanced and gutsy, and I LOVE the 4th and 4 call. I am behind Chan because good offense is more fun to watch than defense. I won’t pin it on Chan like all you Media guys this past week. I thought you weren’t a hater man!

  2. Great analysis on the game overall. Not sure aboutnthe Johnson point, though. Being short of the first down agreed. The end zone I thought was a bit of rushed pass and not fighting through. Missed opportunities by the D, especially that free INT Scott missed really hurt.

  3. So, that’s why the fans tolerate Chan. Scoring is fun (well, being the 20th best offense in the league instead of 25th with Jauron). Defense isn’t.

  4. with all due respect , you’re completely wrong on Fitzpatrick . a franchise QB would have not made that throw. it’s second down and not fourth down with plenty of time. a Franchise QB would have seen spiller wide open instead of throwing a high risk pass not to mention he got lucky on the pass just before this play. This QB is average at best and unfortunately for the Bills , they will have to release him along with Nix , the head coach and the defensive coordinator at the end of the season .

  5. Great column, Nick. I agree with everything you said. The worst of a bad bunch of penalties was the PI call on Gilmore on a throw that nearly sailed into the stands and couldn’t have been caught by Dikembe Mutombo on a trampoline.

  6. The Fitz hate is extraordinary. He’s not the solution, but he isn’t the problem either (invariably it all comes down to the pick though to people, not that the d is horrid). If the Bills just had a crappy defense, instead of a catastrophic one, they’d lead the division right now.

    Leelee is right about Gailey. He, flat out, is the problem. 13-28 is a worse winning percentage than Kay Stephenson’s here. And he’s lost with Fitz, lost with Edwards, lost by little, lost (12 times!!!) by 20 or more.

    He’s an incredible downgrade from Jauron.

    Nix’s draft and FA misfires are about as bad though.