So the Buffalo Bills didn't squish the fish, losing to the Miami Dolphins 25-16 this past weekend. We know how inept the offense was in the fourth quarter. We know that the defense struggled, particularly in stopping Ted Ginn. (Typing that still makes me sick to my stomach.) We know that while losing, every other AFC East team won over the weekend. Plain and simple, it wasn't a good weekend to be a Bills fan.
After agonizing about the loss for two days and re-watching the tape, however, there were some solid individual performances that deserve to be mentioned. Never hurts to talk about bright spots, right?
Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson: It's hardly a surprise, but Buffalo's potent one-two running back punch performed quite well. Sure, Jackson got stuffed three times at Miami's goal line early in the game, but when they got opportunities, they made the most of them. The running game in general was much better than usual; in fact, Lynch and Jackson actually had some holes to run through in this one. Lynch is a monster - there's no excuse for him only logging 13 carries. Miami wasn't stopping him on the ground or through the air (though he stopped himself twice in the latter department). Our runners looked great.
Lee Evans: Over the past two games, Evans has 15 grabs. He hasn't been this productive since a four-game, 32-catch stretch in the 2006 season. Miami did a good job shutting down Buffalo's short passing game on Sunday, yet Evans still hauled in 7 passes for 116 yards. Perhaps this offense has reached a point where Evans will be consistently productive from this point forward. Evans has at least 65 receiving yards in every game this season. Think he's not a legitimate #1 receiver? Think again.
Derek Schouman: I'm liking the fact that Turk Schonert is finding ways to get Schou the ball, even if it's only once a game (or, in reality, every other game). It should happen more. He's averaging 15 yards per reception, people! He's also an underrated blocker. I think it's high time we gave this kid a shot as our full-time starter at tight end; at least he doesn't fumble the ball. Robert Royal has lost 4 fumbles over the past two seasons; that's unacceptable for a guy who touches the ball as infrequently as he does.
Keith Ellison: People like to point out that we have a "need" at outside linebacker, but those same people rarely - if ever - acknowledge that Keith Ellison is playing out of his mind. He has, quite literally, been our most consistent linebacker this season. Whereas Kawika Mitchell is borderline dominant one week and a liability the next, and while Paul Posluszny is disappearing for stretches, Ellison just makes plays. He is one of the best open-field tacklers on the team, and he can make plays in the backfield. He'll never be spectacular, but boy, is he dependable. He played very well against Miami.
Jabari Greer: I'd like to offer a public apology to Mr. Greer. Throughout the summer months and the pre-season, I was adamant that rookie Leodis McKelvin would vault Greer to be a starter for this team by mid-season. McKelvin has had to play, obviously, but not because of Greer; Jabari has been outstanding. He's a gamer. He's physical, he's athletic, and though he can be taken advantage of, he's a guy that can be relied on. He's held down the fort very well while Terrence McGee has been out of the lineup (or playing matador to Ted Ginn's bull). Jabari's underrated, and I think it's safe to say at this point that he deserves discussion of a contract extension.
Bryan Scott: It's probably not the best news when Scott is the heart and soul of your defense, but that was the case this Sunday. Scott was outstanding, registering a sack, making two big tackles (in key situations) in the backfield, and providing excellent coverage on the Dolphins' tight end duo of Fasano and Martin (it was Kawika Mitchell that allowed Fasano to score on Miami's opening possession). Whether or not he's the team's second or third safety is irrelevant - he's playing very, very well right now.