Yesterday after the game I decided to hop on over here to check on how the fanbase was doing. It was about as expected - we as Bills fans should be use to these losses. It's tough but it shouldn't wear on any of us at this point, especially this far in a losing season. This team is building something and if you can't see that then I really don't have much to say because it's not all losses and wins - but that's another conversaion.
Let's look at some of the things that transpired yesterday.
S. Johnson - 5 drops
L. Evans - 2 drops, fumble
L. McKelvin - fumble, tripped over Moats for what would have game winning return TD
Looking at those stats quickly reveals not much until you dive down into the nuts and bolts of the drops, the fumbles. The timing of these things are a bigger issue - killed drives, killed momentum, loss of field position, loss of game. These things are on the players.
Chan Gailey's job is to put his players in a position to succeed. I'll grab Brian Gallifords comment on the post game thread because he summed it up properly.
Gailey’s job is to put his players in position to win games. CLEARLY, he did that.
From our fearless leader - this much was obvious - in plain sight easy to see. The players failed us. We all knew going into this season that our team lacked talent and was young. We're starting to see some talent develop but a lot of our contributors are young guys still learning to play in the NFL. These things happen and i'm super soaker X2 happy that it's happening in this lost season so these guys can learn from their mistakes and plow forward.
After the game a few questioned play calling. I have to assume that not running the ball was part of that griping. Hopefully those who were at the game or live in WNY can tell others that kicking into the wind WHILE THE WIND GOT STRONGER THROUGHOUT THE GAME (did at my house a mere 40 minute drive) would have been a bad idea so we needed to get more yardage and hence throw and not run on the leagues best run defense.
Chan succeeded - Lee and S.Johnson failed us in that respect. The plays were right, the throws were right, the blocking was right, the routes were ran right - but our WR's failed to finish the plays. All the best ones do it and it will happen again. (side note - WTF Lee?)
In looking at our rushing I wanted to see how the stats bore out because obviously just saying that passing wasn't a bad idea doesn't hold any weight I figured let's see how the stats look.
Stats from espn.go.com
424 attempts - 1867 yards, 4.4 YPC, 6 TD
271 attemps - 1211 yards, 4.5 YPC, 6 TD
The Bills would need on average 34 carries per game to equal last years total number of runs - that obviously isn't going to happen so yes we ran the ball more last year.
This year we have played the number 1, 2, 4, 7, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23 and 24th ranked run defenses.
Last year we played the number 8, 10, 10, 10, 13, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 28, 31, 32 ranked run defenses.
We have yet to play Minnesota (ranked 5th), Cleveland (21st), Miami (13), NE, (16) and Jets (4th).
When we look at those numbers we see that Buffalo has had to play 3 top 5 rushing defenses. Right now Pittsburgh is giving up 64.0 yards per game, Chicago 80.5 and Jets 86.5.
Last year the top 3 rushing defenses that we had to face gave up 98.6, 106.9, 106.9, 106.9 and 110.5.
You can easily see how much better the rush defenses are this year as opposed to last year already. Trust me - playing a team that gives up 64.0 YPG as opposed to a team that gives up 98.6 is a HUGE difference.
A new scheme has been implemented in WNY on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. We all know that - but along with those schemes has been a fundamental change in a key area. It's tough for me to gauge how much we did it last year, but i've been paying attention to Chan's play calling more this year because he was suppose to be an offensive guru.
What I have seen (and see teams like the Colts, NO and NE doing) is us substituting the short passing game for runs. We have seen more WR screens and shorter hitch routes and certainly more drag routes underneath than last year.
I think that's hard to quantify because a) not sure where to get stats and b) captain checkdown makes it look like we only had a short passing game when he was in! I have, however, seen that and look forward to the stat break down after the year that Brian & Co. have planned for us.
Another point I want to make is strength of schedule. Did you know that the Bills have played 7 teams that are either tied for first or in first place in their divisions? Hint: there's only 8 divisions! That's not counting the 7-4 Packers!
I don't have the stat anywhere - but I heard yesterday that our opponents winning percentage is over .700!
What does this tell us? It tells us that we're possibly playing the toughest schedule in the league and have almost beaten all of those teams.
It's very tough to win in the NFL but it's doubly tough when you're playing the best teams in the league week in and week out. We always pointed at the Bills having shots other years because of cup-cake schedules and never being able to take advantage. Let's look at both sides of hte coin here - anyone know where I can get strength of schedule stats?
Just added info: Actually from Behind the Steel Curtain:
2-9 The Bills record
12 - the combined number of points that Bills lost their last 4 games by.
28-13 - the collective records of those 4 teams....
When I look at this team I don't see losers, I see a losing record and that's it. I don't see the team quitting, wallowing in self pity (well maybe a little yesterday, S.Johnson), I see a team that fights with the leagues best week in and week out almost snatching victory out of these "Super Bowl Contenders" in NE, NYJ, Pitt, Bal, Packers and Bears.
It's painfully obvious that we have to find a way to win these games but the teams we have been playing are established with great quarterbacking, great defenses and experienced scheme. We're still learning scheme and have less talent than most NFL rosters and are WITHIN A PLAY OR 2 of beating all of them.
This team IS GROWING, IS LEARNING, IS SHOWING CHARACTER and that isnt' reflected in their record. You can have a negative, piss poor look at the team becuase of the record and that sure is your perogative. "You are what your record says you are" - while true - that statement doesn't take into consideration future endevors and the development of a crappy team in the progress while overcoming probably the hardest strength of schedule in the NFL against the best rushing defenses and defensive teams in the NFL while playing against some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Sure this team has work that needs to be done - but it's not terribly far off. We're able to compete with the big boys right now and should have certainly won a few more. Soon enough we'll start doing that - if I were any of the teams remaining on our schedule i'd be nervous. Including NE and NYJ. Chan and Buddy are building a contender - heck we already contend that's not an issue - they're going to build is a winner.
I haven't felt this good about a team in a long time. I was always skeptical about the DJ Bills - but Chans' Bills have a completely different look and feel to them. I see it and I hope you see it to.