Let me start by saying there is enough blame to go around for all. This game was not lost for one reason. There were multiple positional breakdowns, poor execution, penalties, and yes coaching deficiencies. I am writing this because it seems to me that so many here are upset at, complaining about, and giving up on individuals on the team, or coaching the team for the wrong reasons. Mistakes were made, and individual efforts will have to be better for this team to improve. This is a young team with a lot of potential for growth. Talent is needed in a few very key positions, and this will hamper us until these upgrades are made, but this is the team we have now. I am going on record as saying I will not give up on anyone on this team. We will win some games and get better as the season goes along, but win or loose I am firmly in the Nix, Chan, Trent, and the whole teams corner. So with that said lets look at some of the symptoms, and the real reason we lost in week one.
The O-line gets a lot of negative press, and for the most part it is justified. They simply are not ready to handle a solid front seven that is coming at them hot, and heavy. They will get better if they can stay healthy, but it could get real ugly if they can not improve on this weeks performance. Obviously the whole offence depends on this. I think CHIX thought they could be average pass protection, and open some holes for the running backs. They are not at that point yet and until they get there there will be continued calls for heads to roll. This in my opinion was the biggest contributing factor to the real problem in game one.
QB play also gets a lot of bad press, and Trent did make some poor decisions in this game. He in no way is the reason we lost this game though. He again was asked to perform in way less than ideal circumstances. I have been steady in my support for Trent as I think he does have the tools to lead this team. The question remains weather when he finally gets some better conditions to work in will he have enough left in the tank to step up and lead this team. In my opinion when Trent can stay clean and has a good balanced game plan he will shine. without vast improvements from the O-line we might not see that again this year, and that could be the end for him in Buffalo.
Play calling is the big thing that everyone seems to be jumping on. We have already had calls for Chan's job, and multiple comparisons to him being worse than DJ,(surly that is impossible) and other past head coaches. I am not saying that I am not disappointed here as well. After the whole preseason to plan it was weak. Again This was not the reason we lost to Miami. There have been a lot who have said he never adjusted his game plan just kept on running the same shot-gun over and over. I think he made several adjustments throughout the game and tried several things that were just not any more successful than the original plan.
So why did we loose this game?? Well there are several reasons that caused the real problem. First the O-line failed causing the rest of the offense to stumble repeatedly on first downs. Trent, and our RB's could not get into any kind of a rhythm with the lack of time and space to run. I think the game plan was to run a balanced run attack out of the shotgun (pistol) with just enough passes to keep the defense honest. Everyone(Miami) knew our run was going to be our strength so Chan came out throwing from a formation that he thought he could also run from if the pass threat was also there. It wasn't. That was the point of the first drive give them what they did not expect then work the run into the same formation, while giving your QB some extra pass protection when needed. I think we would all agree that if the game plan is to run the ball you absolutely have to make some (a lot) of positive plays on first and ten. We did not. And so there it is the real reason we lost this game. Poor execution on first down. Chan thought he could run on the Miami defense if it was spread out and he was right. The only first and ten productive runs in the game came out of the pistol. There were a lot of unproductive first and ten plays though as well. Twelve of twenty to be exact, eight of those were out of the shotgun four from other formations. When other formations were used in first and ten situations the result was no better. The two drives that were successful in scoring points were (14/16) plays run from the shotgun. What killed most of our offensive production was long down and distance. Forcing Chan to call mostly pass plays from a second and eight or longer, and third and seven or longer. This is something no team can get out of on a regular basis the key is dont get into them. Count them 14 second and longs, 10 third and longs, and 2 fourth and longs. Buffalo made 50% of there third and reasonable yard plays. They made 16.6% of the third and long plays. This is to be expected. Chan was forced out of his game plan by the poor first down execution. The game plan could have been stronger no doubt, but this was a plan that could have worked if first and ten downs had been more positive. He made the right calls for the right down and distances, he just had to many long down and distances. If you look at the average yards on all (20) first down plays it was a modest 3.45 YPA , but the problem is almost all of it came on the two scoring drives. When you take those two drives out of the averages you end up with a terrible 1.62 YPA on first downs. Add to that a lot of negative or zero yardage plays on second and long, and now third down is killing you (25%). In my opinion we could have won this game, but there are a lot of little things that will have to be improved upon that are symptoms to some degree of the main problem. EXECUTION ! ! ! especially on first downs.