Dolphins, Jets, and Patriots fans, congrats on your respective wins. I could not care less about your teams at the moment.
The Bills Offense
I actually don’t have a lot to complain about here. They hung 21 points (this week) on a very good Bengals defense without their starting quarterback, their top two wide receivers (Sammy did play a half for a change), their starting right tackle, and their number two running back. The problem they have, aside from injuries, is consistency. The Bills O came out swinging and marched down field for 80 yards capped off with a QB keeper for a touchdown. Perfect. Then, as though a switch were flipped, the offense looked as incompetent as a typical D3 college football team, unable to even gain a first down for several possessions and giving the ball away on a badly thrown interception. They couldn’t get their act together again until the final drive of the first half (just enough to get the score close before halftime to give us fans some hope). Then they came out in the second half and were abysmal again, accomplishing precisely nothing until there was 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter. At that point they were already down 20 and there was no coming back. We can safely attribute much of this to injuries, but these injuries appear to be an ongoing trend that does not bode well for the future. After what should be a winnable game in London (God, it had better be a win) and the bye week, the schedule gets ugly with three straight division games, the last two of which are on the road, followed by a road trip to Kansas City. The Bills will be very, very fortunate to enter December with a winning record, let alone in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot.
The Bills Defense
Despite the many arguments between myself, other Bills fans, and various members of the Truck Nuts Brigade over whether Rex Ryan is a better coach than Joe Philbin (which he is, by any objective measure), I’ve never been keen on the hire. I have always been of the opinion that they should have kept Jim Schwartz as head coach after Marrone left because that would ensure the one thing we had going right last year would remain intact, the defense. Chalk that up to another thing I’ve said the Bills should have done that would have been better than what actually happened.
However, when Rex was hired and brought on Greg Roman to run the offense, I was at least content with the belief that Rex is, if nothing else, a great coach of defense and would allow Roman to run his offense. I was wrong. Rex is no better or worse than the vast majority of coaches in the NFL, at anything. He has his scheme that he likes and if the personnel fit the scheme then it works out great. But when the square people don’t fit into the round holes, he just does what everyone else does and brings out a hammer to pound them into place instead of finding the right holes to put them in. I sincerely doubt that everyone has figured out how to beat this absurdly talented Bills defensive line all of the sudden. This DL has lead the league in sacks and QB pressure over the last two years and now they can barely touch an opposing passer, let alone rack up sack after devastating sack like they used to. With a quarter billion dollars invested in one positional group, the results need to be better than they are. And the blame for this lands squarely on Rex Ryan’s shoulders.
The Bills Special Teams
Another outstanding unit from last year that is horribly underperforming, the Bills ST unit is just pathetic. The Bengals started north of their 40 half the game yesterday and all of that can’t be on the shoulders of an injured Marcus Easley. I think that Special Teams, maybe even more than offense or defense, requires intense discipline. This team has a severe lack of discipline, both in terms of on field play and playing within the rules. I could go on and on about how poor the officiating is in this game, but the fact remains that we all know this. The players know this and yet they refuse to adjust to it. Stop doing dumb things, like taunting players after a good tackle, so the great play you just made on a punt return isn’t negated by handing the opponent 15 yards of forward progress before they even take a snap. Idiots.
The Bills will travel to London next week, before their much needed bye. The Jaguars are proving to be a tougher out than anyone expected with Blake Bortles figuring out how to throw the ball to his own team instead of defenders. Bills win, but it’s an uncomfortably close one, Buffalo 20, Jacksonville 19.