After a very eventful week, the struggling Buffalo Bills head south to Florida to take on the suddenly surging Jacksonville Jaguars. Perry Fewell will be coaching his first game as the Bills' interim head coach and looks to start off on a positive note. It'll be a tough challenge, as the ravaged Bills defense faces another tough running back matchup, going against Maurice Jones-Drew and his league-leading 12 touchdowns.
With new leadership, a new starting quarterback and even more new starters on defense, it's tough to figure out how well the Bills will play this week. Who knows? Maybe the biggest question that needs to be answered this week is what there will be more of heading into the game: Bills players on Injured Reserve or tarped over sections of seats in Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. If the Bills come to play, this is yet another winnable game. Let's see how they can get it done.
Give Fitzpatrick a chance: I don't know if it was a coincidence or not, but the Bills have done a better job protecting Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has been sacked just four times. That's roughly once every 19 passes he's thrown. Trent Edwards on the other hand has been sacked 21 times, roughly every 9 passes. It's probably not so much the blocking as it is Fitzpatrick making quicker decisions and getting rid of the ball. He needs to continue that this week, but the blocking needs to give him a chance to make some plays against a Jacksonville secondary missing their best piece (Rashean Mathis). If Fitzpatrick is hurried and under duress all day, it's going to lead to turnovers and some terrible passes. That can't happen if the Bills want to pull the upset.
Show some semblance of a ground game: With Andy Levitre over at tackle and Seth McKinney in the lineup, is it possible the run blocking could be a little more physical this week? Could that mean more success? Who knows, but they are facing the 22nd ranked run defense this week, so the opportunities will certainly be there. The Jaguars are also likely to be without starting MLB Justin Durant. Fewell had his guys in pads on a Wednesday this week, for the first time in a long time, so maybe that small adjustment could lead to a more physical approach on Sunday. Let's hope so.
Hit some slants to Evans: He hasn't played well at all, but Fitzpatrick did seem interested in getting the ball to Lee Evans more while he was in the lineup before. He showed a willingness to throw the slant and actually completed a few. I really want to see more of this and would love to see Evans get his chances against a mediocre Jaguars secondary.
Take away MoJo's mojo: This is pretty much the exact same key as last week against the Titan when the Bills needed to slow down Chris Johnson. It's highly unlikely that they'll actually shut him down, but avoiding big plays is a must. They need to watch out for Jones-Drew in the passing game as well as he's one of the better RB's out of the backfield in the NFL.
Shut down Sims-Walker: Mike Sims-Walker has burst onto the scene this year and become a legit No. 1 WR for the Jaguars. He's had an excellent season to date, and it's not coincidence that when he performs well, the Jaguars tend to win. They are 3-1 when he scores a touchdown and 4-1 when he has six or more receptions. The banged up Bills secondary will need to focus on slowing Sims-Walker down, in addition to helping keep Jones-Drew from hitting on some big plays, so its obviously easier said than done.
Play like hell and win: Perry Fewell's motto is a simple one, and a good one to follow. Let's hope the players take his guidance to heart and go all out to try and win his first game. It'll be nice to see the team play off the head coach's personality and passion, in a good way, for once.
That's it. There's not much else to add, in my opinion. The Bills look to be in a hopeless situation with injuries, coaching changes and a quarterback shuffle, in addition to their normal ineptitude. I hope they can play well and not get embarrassed. That's pretty much where this team is at this point, so a nice performance would be a pleasant surprise. Go Bills!