This post is largely a defense of Buffalo's defensive schemes. Or at the very least the effectiveness of those schemes against the Dolphins. Going into the game I was most concerned about Pennington's ability to throw underneath the coverage and hit big targets like Fasano and Martin as well as their little quick guys in Camarillo and Bess. Well The Bills essentially shut that stuff down. Here are the season averages of catches, yards and yards per catch for those four guys:
catches - yards - ypc
Camarillo - 4.5 - 56.2 - 12.5
Bess - 1.7 - 12 - 7.2
Fasano - 3.4 - 39 - 11.5
Martin - 2.7 - 38.8 - 14.6
With all the speculation that the Bills' corners playing off the line was part of the reason that we lost, wouldn't one conclude that these guys ate us up? Well you guys all watched the game and not only did this group of guys not beat the Bills, we kept them all below their season averages. Camarillo went for 35 yards and a season low 7 yards per catch. Camarillo hadn't had a game all year where his opponents held him under 11.3 yards per catch until he lined up across from Jabari Greer, albeit 6-10 yards away from Greer. Davone Bess was his typical ineffective self. On a side note, does anyone know why Dolphin fans were/are so high on the guy? He quite literally had the worst size/speed combo in NFL combine history. And back to my point, both Fasano and Martin were kept below their season averages in catches, yards and yards per catch by a good amount. The two TEs combined for 4 catches and 37 yards on Sunday which is about what they both do on their own in an average week.
So what went wrong? We all know the answer to that. Terrence McGee played the worst game of his life. I havn't watched every game he has ever played, I actually never managed to tune in to one of his games at Northwestern St (who even knew that was a school? and did we ever make a point to notice that Demetrius Bell also went there? Washington safety, Mike Green is the only other current NFL player to attend), but I am pretty confident that he has never played worse than what we just witnessed on Sunday. He was so bad that the only logical explanation is that he is in serious financial trouble and he bet his house on the Dolphins .... or he was still hurt. It's obvious that Mcgee was nowhere near 100% and had no business being in the game. That is a coaching error that we can all get behind and use as a rallying cry for everything that Jauron and co. have done wrong at OBD, but I think it is wrong to judge Jauron and Fewell for the schemes that McGee was unable to execute. Ted Ginn went off to the tune of 7 catches for 175 yards for a ridiculous 25 yards per catch. Ginn did everything players aren't supposed to do against the Fewell/Jauron style cover 2. What does it matter how far off the line McGee lined up? Ginn was able to get open 10+ yards down the field with consistency. That isn't the schemes fault, the scheme prevents that.
McGee's play and the coaches inability to pull him really, really, really bothered me. I was yelling at the TV all afternoon to the point where I just drank myself stupid and pouted for several hours after the game even ended. The other thing that bothered me was a bunch of the Rumblers reaction to scheme, specifically, that people accuse Jauron and Fewell of using schemes based on "fear". Does anyone else think that is completely ridiculous or am I alone on this one? Chess is a game with very aggressive and equally as conservative strategies. If one of the most brilliant chess players in the world employed a conservative strategy, would anybody say he chose that strategy out of fear? I know there are a lot of hockey fans around here and while we all hate the trap and the effect it has had on the game, do you go around and call all the coaches who use it afraid? Criticize the scheme all you want, but that very same "scared" scheme had held opponents to 184.5 passing yards per game, a number that would be the fourth best total in the league right now.
In my opinion, Jauron and Fewell challenge teams to make plays. They line their guys up in a conservative manner and say "good luck making a play". The coaches essentially dare their opponents to try and throw over the top with full knowledge that if an opposing QB attempts to make a big play, than our team is the one that is in a better position to make that big play. Don't think of it as giving up those short routes. The Bills give teams no choice but to make short completion after short completion after short completion until eventually they make a mistake or two and have to punt or settle for a field goal. You can't win in the NFL with dinking and dunking down the field and the Bills force their opponents to try and win with this losing strategy. After all the criticsm that went Edwards' way last year for being unable to throw the ball down the field, you would think Bills fans would notice that no opposing QB has been able to accomplish that against us all year, at least up until Pennington picked apart a helpless Terrance McGee. In the six games prior to Miami, the Bills allowed 7 completions of more than 20 yards and two of them (the slant to JL Higgins and the screen to Jackson) weren't long passes at all. Jacksonville couldn't complete a pass longer than 15 yards. Philip Rivers, who gets off throwing down the field, only completed one pass over 20 yards and it was a 23 yard completion to Malcolm Floyd.
Is it possible that Jauron isn't afraid of anything (except snakes ..... I bet he is afraid of snakes worse than Indiana Jones), but rather in all his years playing and coaching football he thinks that preventing the big play and forcing his opponents to either check down or throw into coverage is the best strategy to win a football game with the team he has? How did we beat the Chargers? Did Edwards put the team on his back and carry them to victory or did Jauron's conservative approach prevent Philip Rivers (whose 2,038 yards passing is 3rd in the league while his 30 completions of 20+ yards are the second most in the league and his 9 completions of over 40 yards are also the second most in the league) from making the big play that the Chargers live off of. Rivers has averaged 14.4 yards per completion against teams that aren't the Bills. When he came into Buffalo his average completion went for 9.5 yards.
I think it is time to give credit where credit is due and Dick Jauron, your defensive scheming is fine by me. If the trap can win the New Jersey Devils a few Stanley Cups, than I will put my faith in the cover 2 to eventually bring Buffalo a Super Bowl.