The Bills beat another thoroughly beatable team last week, the winless, hapless Cleveland Clowns, 33-13, to level their record at 7-7 and keep their slim playoff chances, well, slimmer.
But you really cannot win by beating a winless team, you can only lose. And yet the Bills took care of business instead of embarrassing themselves.
Shady McCoy has consistently proven that he Is still one of the best running backs in the league and Mike Gillislee amongst the best backups. Shady, along with The Lorax, were both named to the Pro Bowl this week. The Bills are the top running team in the NFL. Shady is leading the league in average per carry for starters at 5.5 yards per carry. TD Mike is at 5.7
The Bills scored their 27th rushing TD of the season, the most since 1975 and leads the league by five. They average .7 yards per carry more than the next best team, Dallas, which is considered to be the best rushing team with the best OL. For those that consider the NFL a passing league and running is antiquated, the top ten passing teams have a collective losing record by a substantial margin, and the top ten rushing teams have a substantial winning record, including the best teams.
The offensive line collectively played well against the Clowns. Cyrus Kouandjio has played consistently solid at LT and deserves kujos, still only 23 years old. Ryan Groy filling in for Eric Wood has shown flashes of competence. The weak link is still Jordan Mills, and it’s not unthinkable to play Cordy Glenn at RT next season, considering Kujo is clearly better at LT than RT.
Tyrod Taylor played one of most solid, steady, heady games as a Bill. He spread the ball around. Threw down the middle. Found his tight end repeatedly. Was accurate for the most part. Made good decisions. And yet it must be all tempered because the Browns are so bad. So he can’t win even if he wins.
TT still has an unnerving habit of not stepping into his throws even when he has time, which he cannot do if he is going to take the next step to the next level. It hurts his accuracy and there is simply no reason for it. He got away with it against a pitiful team but cannot against a good one.
Anthony Lynn had a strong game plan and called good, workmanlike plays, sprinkled with a couple of tricks, one of which had Brandon Tate catching an end around like it was the old Statue of Liberty play. The Bills had 29 first downs, 451 yards and scored 33 points.
The offense is really not the problem. Only two teams in the NFL have scored more touchdowns than the Bills and they are 9th overall in scoring. This with a defense that consistently gives up long drives.
The defense did its job the entire unwinable game outside of a couple glitches. Having Kyle Williams back made a huge difference and he wins warrior of the year for the 12th time in his 11 year career. He was super-snubbed in the Pro Bowl balloting and has dominated all season. He refuses to slow down like he refuses to be blocked.
Lorenzo Alexander now has 11.5 sacks, tied for third in the league. Zach Brown is third in the NFL in tackles. Ironically those two were signed in the off season to back up the top two draft picks who got injured and were penciled in to start. And yet GM Doug Whaley seems to get no credit for this.
Stephon Gilmore has regained his shut down corner status in the second half of the season and the Bills are going to have to make a tough decision on him in the off season. The DBs, however, were basically allowed to take the weekend off as the Cleveland WRs couldn’t get out of their own way, and RG3-and-out lived up to that slander.
On Special Teams, Dan Carpenter continues to be money on field goals and dukey on extra points, which is not only a league wide trend but makes no sense whatsoever.
Rex Ryan had his team ready against a woefully unprepared opponent, one of those things where you cannot get credit for it but could get clobbered for it if you do not come up big. The rumors continue to swirl about his future like the winds in the lower bowl of The Lid. This week against the Dolphins on Christmas Eve could be a determining factor on Rex’s career as an NFL coach.
Hopefully the Bills DBs will not forget what the coward and cheap shot artist Jarvis Landry did to defenseless Aaron Williams earlier in the year, and take Landry out of the game literally and figuratively. That alone may be worth the price of admission when the fair-weather Fins take the annual trek up north.
So come on down to the madhouse on Santa Monica Christmas Eve for a gift-wrapped victory, some Holiday nog, free wings at halftime, and a good old fashioned fish fry.
Come watch the Bills send the Fishsticks back to Miami as hapless and as winless as the Clownsticks.
By Pete Rosen