Anyone who chalked up the Bills sloppy play against the Dolphins to being a fluke occurrence in the home of a division rival (like I did) was quite disturbed by what happened at the Ralph this past Sunday. Apparently the Bills once efficient offense that didn’t make big mistakes has decided they’re going to go against the philosophy that led them to a 5-1 start. Trent Edwards fumbled inside his own ten then threw a backbreaking interception, which accumulated to ten points for the Jets. Besides the fumble on the QB sneak against the Dolphins, I still have yet to blame Edwards for the fumbles he’s had in the pocket. In this game, the fullback completely whiffed on the blitzing linebacker who came from Trent’s blindside to knock him down and the ball loose. If my memory serves, all Edwards fumbles have come from blindside hits and have come quickly after the snap. He needs to protect the ball, no doubt, but he also is in a position where he has to trust his offensive line is going to give him three to four seconds.
Speaking of the offensive line… You can say turnovers have resulted in back to back loses for the Bills and certainly they have played a big part in the defeats. However, you are not going to be a successful offense or team for the matter, if you cannot run the football. Ladies and gentlemen, fans and friends, to this point, the 2008 Buffalo Bills CANNOT run the football. Lynch has six touchdowns in eight games, which is nice, but he has yet to crack even 90 rushing yards in a game. Maybe some of that is on him, but it seems every time he is handed the ball he gets hit at the line and has to grind forward just to get a couple yards. Maybe it’s the injuries to Butler and Fowler mixed with a “rusty” Jason Peters, but whatever the problem is, the Bills need to fix it or this season is going to take an ugly (uglier) turn than it already has. I for one am actually impressed Edwards has been able to pass as efficiently as he has considering teams have completely, for the most part, have completely neutralized Lynch.
I did manager to find a silver lining to this game. The Bills tight end’s combined for over one hundred yards receiving and a touchdown! Not to mention, Robert Royal did not fumble the football away. In only his second game, Derek Fine showed some pass catching ability, which could help open up the Bills passing game. If the TE’s can step up, that may help fill some of the void created when Josh Reed went out with an injured Achilles. Edwards said this week he plans on putting in extra time with all of the tight ends in hoping to make them more integral in the offense. Now, if someone would just nudge James Hardy and tell him there’s a game going on, we might have something in the works.
The offense more or less lost the game handing the Jets ten points by way of two turnovers. Anytime you give your opposition double-digit points with your defense on the sideline, you’re going to have a tough time achieving victory. The offensive line gave up four more sacks, which brings the season total to 18 in just eight games. As if the pass blocking wasn’t enough of an issue, for most of the game, a flu suffering Marshawn Lynch had more carries than he did yards. This unit has become a serious cause for concern. What was once a productive unit with high potential, has become a liability for the Bills.
The defense played adequately. Once again the Bills struggled to get consistent pressure on the quarterback. Brett Favre was knocked down a few times but the Bills were unable to register a sack against him. This team is really starting to miss Aaron Schobel and it doesn’t look like they will be getting him back anytime soon. The “D” made a huge play that got the Buffalo back in the game when Jabrari Greer returned an interception for a touchdown with about ten minutes to go in the game. Instead of coming out on the next series and feeding off the crowd and new found momentum, the defense allowed the Jets to slowly march down the field, hand-off after hand-off, in what would result in a key field goal that not only made it a two possession game, but ate up about seven minutes of clock at the same time. This was particularly frustrating because I think everyone at home and in the stadium knew Mangini wasn’t going to let Favre put it in the air after throwing a potentially game ruining INT on the previous drive
I’m starting to think it’s just the design of the Bills defense that has their D-ends rushing in towards the pocket on every play. If that’s not the case, Ryan Denney needs to be pulled from the line-up. This guy loses containment on every misdirection play the opposition throws the Bills way. I know this to be true because I watch for it every week! It is unreal how many times he’s out of position and the end is wide open to run through. I’m not the coaching staff or the player, I’m sure they know something I don’t and there’s a reason for this apparent pathetic attempt at defense. However, if I’m right… well, I don’t want to be right. Chris Kelsay is not innocent of this offense either, but he seems to be able to read the screen pass once in a while. Unfortunately, until Schobel returns, expect that right end to be wide open for teams to attack. God help us if we ever play a team with a speedy QB who likes to bootleg… and I don’t mean one of those guys who sits in the movie theater with a camcorder kind of bootlegging.
Idiot Announcer Comment of the Game:
We had a real treat this weekend. The powers that be at CBS decided to send their “marquee” broadcast team up to Orchard Park for the big game. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms provided STELLER commentary including Simms’ brilliant analysis after half-time in which Nantz asked him what the Bills need to do in the second half and he replied “the Bills need to come out of the locker room and play better, they just need to play better.” Wow, that’s deep, Phil. However, this didn’t discourage me as much as when Nantz opened the broadcast by talking about the “beautiful weather” for the first ten minutes. He resorted back to the climate several times early in the game. Folks, this is what happens when you let a golf commentator call a football game. I find it hard that CBS doesn’t have a better play-by-play man than Jim Nantz. Listening to him call a game is like listening to your grandpa tell you a bed time story. I keep waiting for Nantz to break out the bag of “Werthers Original” and pass them out amongst the crew. By the second quarter I was drowsy, heavy-eyed, and in need of being changed.
Wins needed to prove Donte Whitner (injured) correct: still 5
Well, the Bills have now lost 3 of their last 4. After beating the Chargers and going to 5-1, the Bills started receiving some media national media attention that they felt was well deserved. Now Buffalo sits in a three-way tie (which they are at the bottom of the tie due to an 0-2 division record) for first place with a record of 5-3. They are winless in their division with a trip to Foxboro ahead this weekend. 5-4 and 0-3 in their division is staring this team straight in the face. That wouldn’t be catastrophic, but it certainly would put them in a position where they would have to play a lot of catch up. I don’t know too many Bills fans that are optimistic about this game against the Pats. Not only has the team played very poorly the past two weeks, we just lost another starter in our secondary, as Donte Whitner will miss time due to a separated shoulder.
This is a character game for the Bills. I said after the Chargers game that we would really know what kind of team we had after this run through division play. The first two games have revealed some ugly truths. However, if they can rally together and pull one out this weekend, they have Cleveland at home on the national stage and then an away game against the vulnerable Chiefs. Bottom line, if they can pull one out in New England, the schedule is very favorable the rest of the way. With that said, a loss this week could be devastating and see the Bills in last place after being in first place by themselves three weeks ago. The offense must find away to run the ball against the Patriots, if not, “homeless” Bill Belichek will be licking his chops, and it will be a long day for Edwards and the passing game. Likewise, the defense has to STOP the run and make the inconsistent Matt Cassell beat them down the field (which might not be too hard considering the Bills banged up secondary and lack of pass rush). All I can say is, if you’re a Bills fan, go to church Sunday, they’re going to need all the help, spiritual and non-spiritual, that they can get.