Buffalo Bills Preview: Obviously Important


Buffalo Bills Preview: Obviously Important
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The Bills crossed the pond this week and are in the United Kingdom where football involves feet. They will be playing in the London Series against the Jaguars whose only claim to fame this year is beating a Joe Philbin Dolphins team which isn’t saying much. The Bills had an ugly loss last Sunday that they need to rebound from and with the bye next week, a good old fashioned beatdown would be just right.
Free Moore……and Gragg
The Wide Receiver corp is a shell of its former self with over half the wide receivers either nicked up or incognito. That leaves only Robert Woods, Chris Hogan and Denarius Moore. Of the three, Moore is the only legit deep threat. Woods and Hogan are really good in the short and intermediate routes which means if the Bills are looking for a home rum to take the top off the defense, Moore is that guy. Now that the Bills are forced to play Moore, I expect him to be used in the Marquise Goodwin role of the offense. Primarily running go routes, Moore’s job will be to force the Jaguars to play two safeties over the top which will open up the short and intermediate game. If the Jags play single high safety over the top, I expect the Bills to attack that and Free Moore with the go route. He might not have a huge stat line, but with the Bills lacking speed at WR, he is extremely important.
Big Play Clay is the workhorse TE of the offense. With EJ Manuel at QB, the TEs are extremely involved in the offense as he primarily throws in the middle of the field where the TE does most of their work. The Jaguars will probably copy the Bengals of taking out the seam routes which means the Big Play ability of Clay might not be there as he primarily will be a chain move. With the depleted WR corp, two TE sets will probably be used which means Chris Gragg wll hopefully be playing more. Gragg has been the second best TE since Training Camp and he gives the Bills a well rounded receiving and blocking TE. Last week when he finally played against the Bengals, he was targeted often and in a little over a quarter of play, racked up 5 catches for 54 yards. Gragg is very similar to Clay and he also provides a mismatch at the TE position due to his athleticism. Unless the Bills decide to play the horrible Mulligan, Gragg should be seeing the 2nd most TE reps and should cause problems for the Jags defense as EJ really likes throwing to him. I expect Gragg and Clay to have big games.
Don’t Marrone the Defense
Last week the Bills defense regressed heavily as they were not being used to attack the QB and were very conservative playing zone. That might have been due to Dalton being a good QB however the Bills are not a zone defense. This week they play Blake Bortles who is overrated just like Mariota. The Bills should go back to their bread and butter and let the defensive line attack and blitz Bortles until it goes out of style. Gilmore and Darby have done a very serviceable job this year which means the Bills should have faith in leaving them on an island against Robinson and Hurns. The only potential threat is Julius Thomas at the TE position as the Duke Williams and Bacarri Rambo are horrible at covering TEs. If the Bills pressure Bortles enough, he should be rushing his throws and turning it over. With the bye next week, this is the perfect week to go back to their week 1 roots of attacking defense.
Bench Ron Brooks
The biggest problem the Bills have had this year has been Special Teams. Penalties have killed them and with no kickoff specialist, their kickoff coverage is getting exposed.  Last week the Bills lost because their Special Teams let the Bengals dominate field position and if the Bills want to win this week, they can’t let that happen. Ron Brooks not playing would be a good start as he has caused some truly horrendous personal fouls which has hurt the Bills Special Teams. Marcus Easley being back should help on kickoffs as even though Carpenter has no leg, Easley is the best gunner in the NFL and should assist in limiting the big returns. If the Bills quit the stupid penalties, the Jaguars should not be able to have favorable field position and less pressure will be on the defense.
Overall this is a perfect bounce back game for the Bills. The Jaguars are a horrible team and with a loss, they probably will start the Marrone Era next week. The offense will have an easier task than it did last week and if it feeds Shady McCoy, it should be fine. The defense needs to go back to what it was doing best and if it does, it should be a shutdown game. The biggest question mark will be Special Teams as I have very little confidence in them not having stupid penalties. However with how bad the Jaguars are, the Bills should win this game.


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