So that game was pretty, uh, not memorable, eh? The Bills bested the Redskins 23-0 on Sunday in front of a decent sized crowd, that made some noise for the good guys, yet it still felt very sterile and sleepy. I don't care, though. A win is a win is a win. The Bills defense played some great football, finally found a pass rush and the team overall just overwhelmed a poor team. That's what the good teams need to do. This week's game against the Jets is a season turner. Either the Bills continue their ascent up, or the Jets slap them back to reality and back down the standings. This game is absolutely huge; a win would go a long way towards securing a playoff berth later on. A loss will make it very difficult to overcome the Pats, Jets, Steelers, Ravens, and Bengals for a spot in the dance. The team is 5-2 and I almost feel this is going to be a must-win Sunday, but I digress. Let's take a look back at some of the more memorable moments and players from Sunday's win.
- After securing his new contract, Ryan Fitzpatrick played an efficient, yet somewhat quiet game. If a 262 yard, 2 TD, 9.7 ypa game can be considered quiet, this was it...not that that was a bad thing. Fitz found some mismatches (Jackson just before the half) and took advantage of what was there. This game didn't require a fast paced approach, nor did it require much downfield passing. The Bills were in control for most of the game and Fitz led the offense that way. That's fine by me, but this week against the Jets will require some bigger plays, while sticking with the efficiency.
- Fred Jackson has to be the MVP, right? Or at least #2 behind Aaron Rodgers. He's just simply awesome and does everything really well. He has good vision, makes big plays, gets the extra yards, picks up the blitz, catches the ball well, makes guys miss and has the respect of every player in the stadium. You can't ask for much more out of a player and his production is testament to his hard work, preparation and dedication to becoming one of the best. I hope he gets his new contract and plays well for the next handful of years. If ever a guy deserves a new deal simply for past work, it's Freddie.
- It sure was nice to see Scott Chandler back in the game play. With a guy that big causing a mismatch against whoever he plays, he can be a weapon for this offense. I loved the flag pattern for the second touchdown, as it was a thing of beauty. I'd love to see more of that because Chandler runs well enough and it's hard to overthrow him.
- Is Stevie Johnson nothing more than a possession receiver? He seems to very rarely go downfield anymore, other than the occasional quick fly (see Giants game). Has there been a lot of bracket coverage over the top? Does he draw extra attention underneath opening it up for other receivers on his side? Is he simply much better at the shorter routes and picking up first downs? I'd love to see him used more downfield in order to take advantage of his wiggle and ability to get open. The crossing pattern with him seems to have gone away as well. With news that Johnson may not be next up for an extension, it makes me wonder if the team doesn't view him as much more than a possession receiver who they'll find it hard giving a huge extension to. We'll see, but I don't feel that way.
- Stevie's Chan Gailey Halloween costume was fantastic.
- CJ Spiller made a helluva blocker to help spring Freddie on his long run. It was textbook positioning and sealing off his man, something you don't always see out of a WR, let alone a converted RB, so good on him. He also received ZERO carries for the second week in a row, and only has 2 short receptions. I know the WR position is decimated, but the fact that Chan Gailey just doesn't find ways to get him the ball more is pretty telling. You'd think we might see a reverse or a bubble screen or some way to get the ball in his hands. Instead, he's caught a handful of quick slants and dump offs, while going deep once or twice. Is this all we should be expecting out of him, good blocking as a WR and the occasional odd reception? For a team that still lacks explosive plays outside of Freddie, it sure would be nice to see them at least try to get Spiller the ball more in space. I guess there are reasons we aren't seeing that...
- I thought the OL played quite well, especially Andy Levitre against Brian Orakpo for the most part. The first sack was definitely Levitre's fault and Orakpo cleanly beat him and forced Fitz up into the middle of the line. Besides that, he played pretty well against a very tough player. You can't ask for much more than that out of your LG moving to LT. The run blocking was decent, and has been better at times this year, but this was definitely a game where the offense tried to control the clock with a lot of interior runs. They held up well in pass protection, as well. Fitz had plenty of time to throw all day. The second sack was on a 7-man rush where the interior really collapsed. Tough play to defend.
- Wow, we actually had a pass rush for once! Sure, the team was aided by a bad Redskins' OL, but they certainly took advantage of it and got pressure all game long. I loved that and with it could happen more often.
- John Beck is the pits. He is the absolute worst and just excruciating to watch. I don't know if he was worse in this game or the game with the Dolphins back in 2007. The guy has no pocket awareness and just doesn't know when to get rid of the ball. I'm glad the Bills got to face somebody like that.
- I sort of called out Marcell Dareus last week for his lack of impact plays. I'm glad I did! He had a great game and was disruptive all day long. That's the guy we need in this defense, especially for the rest of this year. We need a guy moving the interior around, collapsing the pocket and clogging holes in the running game. We only saw that sporadically throughout the first six games, but Dareus really exploded this week. He really looked great at NT, which makes me wonder what will happen when Kyle Williams is healthy again. Will they keep Dareus at NT? Move him back out to DE? Roll with 4 DL? None of the above? I just hope Dareus can continue with some stellar play in the coming weeks. This defense needs him.
- It was nice to see Arthur Moats generating some pressure off the edge. Somebody needs to step up and slowly but surely, it may be (and may have to be) Moats.
- Outside of Dareus and the pass rush, there wasn't much the Bills defense needed to do. The Redskins are that bad. Their running game was non-existent with the mediocre Ryan Torain not doing much behind a poor OL. I'm surprised they didn't give Roy Helu more opportunities.
- It was nice to see Jairus Byrd make plays all over the field. His sack and his interception were both things of beauty. I loved having him blitzing and hope we see more of that. George Wilson was his normal productive self and continues to impress. The Bills have one of the best safety duos in the NFL. They may not have the flash or overwhelming athleticism, but they are both very solid in all facets of the game with a good nose for the ball. It's obvious how much better they are for this defense than Donte Whitner was.
- Shutouts are always nice!
There's not much more to say about this one. It was a stinker and the Bills were simply the better team. It was nice having a game where it felt like the Bills were in control the whole game with very little worry about the opposition making a comeback.
The next two games are going to make or break the season IMO. A win over the Jets puts the Bills in great position in the AFC East and wildcard, while a loss could really make it difficult to overcome. With a tough road game against Dallas to follow, Sunday is going to be probably the most important game of the season. Win both of these games and the Bills are in excellent position, up at least 2 games on the Jets and at the top of the AFC. Win one (hopefully Jets, at least) and their position is still pretty good, while losing both would pretty much destroy all playoff hopes. I just hope the Bills come out and play emotional, balls to the wall football against the Jets this Sunday. Bring it, and prove to the league you are for real and are here to stay. And to top it off, sticking it to Rex and the Jets would be so sweet. Go Bills!