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You know how you have bad dreams that recur?
1. That looked like 2006. Painful long drives against our defense. On offense, running plays going nowhere, short passes, an occasional deep ball, and JP making a few bad decisions. Throw in a good measure of penalties and other mistakes. That was hard to watch. It’s interesting that statistically, the Bills outplayed the Cardinals. Better yards gained per play, better in a lot of categories. Moorman had a great day kicking, but he only kicked it twice, because most of the time the Bills turned the ball over before they had a chance to punt.
2. Winning starts at the line of scrimmage. So does losing. As excited as I was last season with the Bills’ progress on the offensive line, I’m that disappointed this season. It’s time to declare the Bills’ running game a major failure. It’s a miracle for a Bills running back to get to the line of scrimmage without being touched, let alone getting PAST the line untouched. There is is no push, there are no holes. Nothing. Watch the game in a sports bar, where you can see other games going on. Every running back on every other team sees daylight, at least once in a while.
And the pass protection isn’t much better. Losman had his problems, to be sure, but some of them were because he had too little time. All that good pass protection we saw last year has evaporated. The Bills cannot win consistently without better line play. It looked like 2006.
3. Defensive line was no better. Couldn’t stop the run in critical situations – average yardage wasn’t bad, but on big plays, the Bills rarely held. Couldn’t get to the passer, ever. There was no blitzing for most of the game, and there was no pressure on the passer, either. (Clearly, Fewell’s game plan was to keep the linebackers in pass defense, and clearly it didn’t work. No pressure on the quarterback, and not enough linebacker-stops in shallow zones.) No line penetration up the middle, nothing on the edges. Looked like 2006. All you really know need to know about the game is to look at the tackling stats. Leading tacklers for the Bills were, in order, Greer (!), Whitner, Poz, Mitchell, McKelvin, Youboty. When your defensive backs are making all the tackles, something isn’t right.
4. One thing I like about the Bills defense is how well they tackle. The Bills had a lot of open field tackles; their problem was that receivers and ball carriers were running free for yards before anyone got close enough to make the tackle.
5. Ko Simpson is a player. He makes good, solid plays all over the field. When he’s out of the game, all I see is George Wilson late to the play. I hope this is a minor hammy, not a major one.
6. Trent looked good. Just didn’t see him long enough. Nice read and throw on the play where he got hurt.
JP, on the other hand, showed us vintage JP. JP just doesn’t do enough right to make up for the things he does wrong. And the things he does wrong are the same things he’s been doing wrong for years. He holds on to the ball too long, which turns into sacks, fumbles and interceptions. He doesn’t make good decisions.
One fumble and one interception is tough to overcome with good plays. It looked like 2006. (Can’t blame the first fumble on JP – that d-lineman was in there in an instant, and Marshawn freaked when he saw the defender there. Maybe, maybe JP could have seen it quickly enough and pulled the ball back, but I didn’t think so.)
7. Nice to see Hardy make a few plays. Nothing spectacular, but he found found some space underneath and caught the ball.
8. When the Ball Burglar doesn’t show up, it’s tough to win. The Bills weren’t close to a takeaway any time in the game.
9. How come the Cardinals can run those quick slants for 8-9-10 yards, and the Bills can’t? It took Jabari most of the game to find a way to stop that play, but they picked up some crucial yards with it early. What happened to the deep out routes the Bills have run with success? What happened to 15-20-yard throws down field over the middle? Does JP not find the receivers on those routes? Does Turk not call those plays for JP? How could the Jets throw all over the field against the Cardinals, and the Bills couldn’t throw at all? Take away the deep throw to Evans (JP can get it downfield, can’t he?), and the Bills threw at about a 6.5 yards-per-attempt. Looked like 2006 out there.
10. The Bills did not look like a playoff team against the Cardinals. They didn’t look like an 8-8 team. They looked like a team with no playmakers, no way for the defense to get off the field, and no answer at quarterback. It looked like 2006.
Good time for a bye. Time for Trent’s head to clear, time for McGee and Roscoe and Ko to heal, time for the lines to look themselves in the mirror. The schedule gets tougher the rest of the way.