This past Sunday, the Bills welcomed the Miami Dolphins to the Ralph for their season opener. It was the debuts of Buddy Nix, new Bills GM; Chan Gailey, new Bills Head Coach; George Edwards new Bills Defensive Coordinator and CJ Spiller, Bills first round draft pick and starting RB. Let’s take a look at what went right for the Bills, and also, what went wrong.
First, let’s start with what went wrong:
· For starters, losing the game 15-10, at home against a division rival.
· The offense was held to 166 total yards and time of possession was only 23:07.
· CJ Spiller was held to 6 yards on 7 carries and the Bills run game was shut down.
· The Bills WR’s could not get constant separation from the Miami DB’s.
· The offensive line missed blocks and had some blown assignments, which had Edwards scrambling for most of the day.
· Trent Edwards had a bunch of bad passes and looked erratic. He needs to learn how to pump fake, to avoid getting the ball batted down.
· Miami’s defensive coordinator Mike Nolan outcoached Chan Gailey. Nolan stacked eight defenders, sometimes eleven in the box to shut down the run and dared the Bills to throw.
Now, let’s look at what went right (and some other positives from the game):
· The run defense looked improved from last year. Last season, the Bills run defense ranked 30th, giving up 156.3 yards per game at an average 4.7 yards per carry. The Dolphins managed to get 132 yards on the ground on the Bills, but their stellar RB’s, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams were held to 65 yards for Brown and 62 for Williams. That's an average of 3.7 yards on 36 carries.
· Strength and Conditioning. Over the last four seasons under Dick Jauron, we’ve seen the Bills lose games in the fourth quarter where the Bills were either winning, tied or within seven points. In Sunday’s game, the defense was on the field for 36:53 and finished their last drive with a three-an-out on Miami. Nice to see the new Strength and Conditioning program paying dividends so far.
· The secondary limited Brandon Marshall to 53 receiving yards and did a great job of shutting him down in the second half. Great halftime adjustment by Bills DC George Edwards to put Leodis McKelvin on Marshall, as McKelvin batted down a couple of passes intended to the Miami WR.
· The defense held the Miami offense to 13 points, considering the -13.46 difference in time of possession. When your defense holds two good RB’s to less than 100 yards each and limits one of the best WR’s in the game to 53 yards, then they have done their jobs to keep the team in the game.
· Attempting a 63 yard FG with: 01 second left before halftime. Even though Lindell didn’t make it, you got to love the confidence that Gailey has in this team. Gailey is playing to win and not being conservative. If it was Dick Jauron, there’s no way he sends Lindell out to attempt a 63 yarder.
· Special Teams. In the preseason, coverage on kickoffs and punt returns looked bad, but in Sunday’s game, the coverage was solid as the unit did not let up any big gains.
· Going for it on 4th and 11 at the 31, with 5:19 left to play. If this was still Dick Jauron’s team, Jauron would have played safe and elected to go for a FG. Again, Gailey showed confidence in his offense, especially after the way they were performing all afternoon. Edwards connects with Parrish for a 31 yard TD pass, gusty move by Gailey, but it shows confidence in the team and shows that he wants to win.
Much like the first preseason game versus the Washington Redskins, the Bills offense did not look good at all. But, Chan Gailey made the necessary adjustments and the Bills played better the following two games against the Colts and Bengals. Can Gailey do that again? Bills fans better hope so, as the team travels Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.