Aaaaaaaand sometimes, a team thinks its way right out of its strengths. The Buffalo Bills have succeeded in large part because their playcalling and offensive intelligence has been better than that of their opponents. With some exceptions, the Bills have played to their strengths rather than away from the opposition. In other words, our best against your best. Let’s go.
We don’t know what the Buffalo Bills best will do against the New York Jets after Sunday’s butt-whooping, and that’s the real shame as the Bills head to a three-game road trek at a still solid 5-3.
— There are weeks to blame the quarterback and while Ryan Fitzpatrick’s interceptions were less than ideal, I find nine other players on offense who deserve more blame (The 10th will be revealed later).
Maybe the nine is unfair because I’m not an offensive line coach and perhaps one of those giant lads had a whale of a game, but holy backfield presence, Batman! The Bills were pushed around at the point-of-attack by a unit that’s missing its prime attackers. Buffalo’s wide receivers consistently missed on catchable balls and Fred Jackson — despite some lofty garbage time numbers that also benefited Fitz — had one of his worst games in a long time. In CBS’ desperation to give tongue-hugs to Darrelle Revis, they conveniently refused to notice that had Jackson not triple-bobbled a potential reception, Revis couldn’t have broken it up.
— Mostly, however, I find myself defiant in the face of Chan Gailey’s flawed game plan, which played into the “Saint Revis Theory.” Yes, he is a gifted cornerback, perhaps the greatest in the league, but if you’re afraid to let your $10 million quarterback and soon-to-be rich wide receiver take a shot at him until the second half, you aren’t just betraying your identity, you’re sabotaging the notion that you’re building one at all.
Johnson is a big, fast stud. Once the Bills started going after Revis, it opened up the rest of the field. David Nelson was suddenly more effective. After Johnson toasted Revis for the 53-yard snag, Fitz was immediately able to offer the fans a Scott Chandler sighting. In short, Gailey’s job is to put the Bills in the best position to beat an opponent, and he didn’t. Now they need a win in New Jersey to split. Good luck with that.
— Nick Barnett and Jairus Byrd were the other Bills aside from Johnson to deliver consistently throughout the 60 minutes. Even when he missed his first shot at a tackle, he seemed to slow the play enough to assist on it. Kelvin Sheppard was invisible and I’m barely sure — seriously — that Spencer Johnson played and — facetiously — that Arthur Moats was out there.
— More on Gailey:
1) Down 13-0 and facing 4th-and-3, I really disliked Gailey’s election of a field goal attempt. In a spot to make it a one-score game, I do it most times.
2) Fourth and an inch. Always go for it and always QB keeper up the middle. As I’ve said before, in the words of Ace of Base, “Don’t turn around.” The numbers seem to bear it out.
— Mark Sanchez is getting a bad rap from his big market media, because for a third-year guy I’d sure accept him as my quarterback. Live arm with good accuracy who happens to fall victim to bad reads every now and again (see Byrd’s interception). With the Jets stable of backs, they won’t have to force him into too many difficult passing situations if they could only block consistently.
— Marcell Dareus and David Nelson had mostly-good games, but I didn’t feel Dareus got the better of Nick Mangold enough, nor did I think Nelson made enough plays until the second half. Nelson now has 66 catches in 23 games as a Bill, 20 more than he had in four years in Gainesville.
— Aaron Maybin is the same player he was when he left Buffalo. He is all bluster and bad haircuts. His job description is as follows, “Go out there at an angle where it’ll be impossible for a slower guy to catch you. Try to get to the quarterback.” I’ll give him this: he sure can celebrate his teammates successes like a first-round pick!
— I think I’m done with Leodis McKelvin having a future as a first-string corner… and I probably should’ve been done before today. Too inconsistent and when he does break on the ball he has bad hands. Sadly, the latter was in every scouting report that appeared before the draft. If DRC had multiple kidneys…
— Lost in the hub-bub of Drayton Florence’s horrible hands and sense of timing on the onside kick attempt was Bruce Dehaven’s smart play design and Brian Moorman’s brilliant execution. That’s a no-look “pass” the best soccer fans can be proud of… great core strength.
— To sum it all up, if you believe it’s possible to lose a game more than an opponent wins it, that’s what the Bills did today at the Ralph.
Stat line I liked…
The Jets, 39 rushes at 3.2 yards-per-carry
— I’m sure this counts kneels, but the Bills run defense was mostly on it.
Stat line I didn’t like…
Sanchez, 20-of-28 for 230 yards, TD, INT
— The Bills corners were bad. Appeared just as simple as that description.
I have to pick one? Fine, Nelson.
If the Bills go to Dallas and don’t play to their strengths, they’ll lose. The Seahawks ran all over the Cowboys, but apparently Pete Carroll decided that Tavaris Jackson needed to keep Seattle in the “Suck for Luck” chase.
Honestly, Fitz and Romo have a lot in common. Both can appear to be world-beaters one minute and poor passers the next. Will the Bills rebound down in Dallas? I have a hard time predicting it, but I also think Jackson and Johnson can feast on the Cowboys. Give me the Bills in a bounce-back, 29-19.