The Buffalo Bills season has been a roller coaster affair with twists and turns and ups and downs to make anyone sick. Through six games the Bills are a disappointing 2-4 but that record could have easily been 6-0 or 0-6. The Bills are the only team except the Broncos to score 20 or more points in every game. However they have also given up 20 or more points in every game. The offense has made great strides and with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson have the number three rushing attack in all the NFL. Under rookie QB E.J. Manuel the offense has looked vastly improved and when clicking it can’t be stopped.
The defense actually has a pass rush this year led by Mario Williams who is 3rd in the NFL with 8 sacks. Rookie Kiko Alonso looks like a stud at linebacker and is the best rookie defender at the moment. However the record is still 2-4 and playoffs look to be out of reach as injuries and bad coaching have kept them away from reaching the promised land.
With E.J. Manuel out for 4-6 more weeks due to a LCL sprain caused by a questionable hit to his knee by a Browns defender, Thad Lewis is the temporary guy. Against the Bengals last Sunday Thad showed he can hold the fort while EJ is out and not much drop off occurs. He kept the Bills in the game and if it was not for a bad coaching call to go for it on 4th and goal instead of kicking the FG, he might have just pulled the upset. Still with each QB playing, the offense is extremely anemic and this goes to the play calling by the Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. His predictable play calling has put the offense in tough situations and made two young QBs in tough spots in 3rd and long.
His lack of diversity in plays has made the Bills not pull away from teams it should and lose games they had in their hands (Patriots game). When EJ comes back in a month, look for the offense to mix things up. Instead of running it up the middle on first down with C.J. Spiller, maybe run it to the outside with Spiller or throw a screen. Even a bubble screen would do, something to make the opposing defense think. Hackett needs to realize he isn’t in the Big East anymore and being conservative on offense will not lead to victories. If he has that epiphany, maybe the offense can be as explosive as it should be. They have the talent, just need the coaches to do their part.
The defense has been dealing with variety of injuries which has made it not be as good as it can be. Losing Stephon Gilmore for the beginning of the year has really been a big blow as the Bills have been forced to play such guys as Justin Rogers who made Geno Smith look good. Him being back will allow Aaron Williams to more back to safety where he is more comfortable and no more starting Rogers. The loss of Jairus Byrd has not been noticed and if possible, the Bills should look to trade him for picks since he doesn’t want to be there and can be easily replaced in the upcoming draft. Rushing the passer has been an added improvement and the Bills are 3rd in the NFL in sacks with 21. The linebacking core has made significant improvements with Kiko Alonso playing at an elite level as a rookie. The defense can only hope to improve when healthy and see what pieces work and what pieces need to be changed for the offseason.
Overall this year is a rebuilding year for the Bills and wins and losses do not matter as much as they would to say the Broncos. Progress is what is the basis of this year and on the defensive side of the ball, it has been great success. The offense however has been a work of progress and with EJ being out that progress will be moving at a snail’s pace. The key to a successful season will be if Head Coach Doug Marrone realizes he is not in the Big East anymore and coaches accordingly. To end the long playoff drought soon, I hope he does.
Written by ArcherNoles, who hopes FSU demolishes Clemson