The Buffalo Bills are now 5-5 after losing their third straight game (embarrassingly) to the Miami Dolphins 35-8. At all levels the Bills struggled, whether from offensive miscues, defensive holes and even a special teams blooper. Worse still is the fact that the Bills seem to lost a few more starters to injuries (likely for the rest of the season). At this point the Bills playoff hopes seem all but dashed barring short of a miracle. Major retooling needs to be done, but to diagnose where it needs to happen, we need to look further at this game...
Run Offense: F
Despite heading in as the league lead rusher, Jackson was checked to 8 carries for 17 yards on the ground before getting pulled out with a leg injury (which X-Rays were negative, silver lining). Fitz was forced to scramble several times for 16 yards, while Spiller was again limited in the game with three carries for two yards.
Pass Offense: D
Ryan Fitzpatrick had a rough go, despite throwing for over 200 yards on the day. Passes were slightly off (including a crucial third and short in the red zone in the first quarter) resulting in a 51.3% completion rate while 2 deflected passes off Bills WRs ended being picked off. TE Scott Chandler had another strong showing going 5 catches for 71 yards and should be used more in the upcoming weak with WR Donald Jones seemingly done for the season after getting carted off the field. Fred Jackson meanwhile did better receiving with 5 catches for 50 yards. Brad Smith and Naaman Roosevelt both had a few good grabs as well. Once again Stevie Johnson and David Nelson were non-factors. Thigpen's limited showing was poor.
Blocking Offense: F
Two sacks aren't too bad, but Fitz was under pressure all day long. The line also failed to create opportunities for the rushing game as well, although they did execute a few screens well enough. Andy Levitre's time at center may be over after constantly hiking the ball off target today filling in for Eric Wood.
Run Defense: B+
Aside from a few runs/reverse, the Bills run defense was fairly solid, particularly in the middle limiting Miami's rushers to 95 yards, 30 rushes for 82 yards (2.7 average) to both Bush and Thomas. DaNorris Searcy had a good game in run support starting in place of the injured George Wilson finishing with a team high 11 tackles. The Bills front seven also recorded a safety.
Pass Defense: F
The Bills pass defense was again systematically picked off one by one. Worse still is that the Bills likely lost their best corner, Terrence McGee to another injury for the rest of the year (again). Aaron Williams had a bit of a rough go while the secondary needs to tighten up. Secondary coach George Catavolos needs to teach his guys (and Kelvin Sheppard) to turn around to break up passes! Cornerback seems more and more a top four pick next year.
Pass Rush Defense: D-
The Bills had more of what resembled a pass rush during the game today with Chris Kelsay back in the lineup, and while Moats also had a few good rushes, the only sack on the day went to Nick Barnett. Dareus and Troup struggled to penetrate the interior. The best thing that George Edwards can do is shift Spencer Johnson back to the D-Line to give Moats and Batten more reps at outside linebacker to contain the run and keep up with players in coverage.
Special Teams: C-
The first blocked punt since 2002 (I believe) was returned for a touchdown... for Miami. Aside from that, the Bills special teams were O.K. Amid windy conditions, Brian Moorman had 6 punts averaging nearly 50 yards while coverage units did well. Kicker Dave Rayner had a much better showing making two field goals including one from 56 yards out. Brad Smith continues to struggle with kick returns, although Spiller had a great punt return for 45 yards (although had a few bad ones as well).
For two weeks in a row Gailey's crew has been pummeled and outplayed in the first half and instead of being able to come back, stay down. One thing that Gailey should work on to establish a better offensive rhythm (of which I saw glimpses) are to get Spiller more involved, particularly on quick slants, work on slant passes in general, pass more to Scott Chandler throughout the game and run more, especially in short yardage situations. Defensively, the Bills need to find out how to generate pass rush consistently and apply tighter coverage.
Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of BuffaloRumblings.com.