In their final game of the season the Buffalo Bills jumped out to a 21-0 lead before being shut down by the patriots, losing 49-21. If the game was to be judged by the first quarter the Bills would have received A+ across the board. However, between a benched Stevie Johnson and the fact the Bills were facing Tom Brady equaled disaster afterwards. Otherwise Happy New Year!!!!
Running Game: B
One thing I hope that Gailey does next year is to give Jackson ~20 runs per game, Spiller ~15 runs per game and balance the pass game with Fitz. Spiller averaged 4.6 yards on 13 carries for 60 yards total, but this number should/could have been higher with a more balanced game plan especially in the second half. Fitz had 5 rushes for 36 yards while Choice's lone rush went for a touchdown. The nice thing that both Spiller and Jackson have shown is the ability to run w/o a fullback and catch passes resulting in a larger playbook for a hurry-up offense. Spiller also showed good patience.
Passing Game: C-
Ryan Fitzpatrick started the game off as a gunslinger with a large completion percentage and two touchdown passes to Stevie Johnson and C.J. Spiller (both of whom finished the day with 4 catches for 40 yards too). The second half was cruel with a few tipped balls ending up in four picks including a pick-six. Derek Hagan did well as the #2 WR with 7 catches for 89 yards, until Stevie got pulled from the game.
Blocking Game: B-
The offensive line gave up two sacks on Fitz during the game. The first half line looked stronger than the second half. Colin Brown was OK as the backup, backup center though he muffed a few snaps.
Run Defense Game: C-
While the Bills limited the law-firm to 3.1 yards a carry, Green-Ellis still had 2 TDs. Ridley meanwhile averaged over five yards a carry for 81 yards while Hernandez had 26 yards on two carries. Barnett showed good hustle, but the Bills need to do better to contain the run next year, as they did earlier this year.
Pass Defense Game: D+
ILB Nick Barnett had the lone pick for the day stopping a Patriots drive late in the first half. Through the first quarter checked Brady pretty well. Aaron Williams did a nice job covering Welker, but neither he, the safeties or linebackers could cover Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. If there was ever a reason to draft an ILB like Kuechly in the first round, these guys (x2) would be why.
Pass Rush Game: B
The Bills got four sacks against Tom Brady, two of which came from NT Kellen Heard. Dwan Edwards andArthur Moats recorded the other two sacks while Dareus had some bright spots throughout the game. Overall though, pass rush was not consistent enough to thwart the Patriots' comeback.
Special Teams Game: B-
A successful fake punt/run with George Wilson helped set up a touchdown drive by the the Bills. Brandon Coutumissed his only field goal attempt with the Bills. Brian Moorman meanwhile hit two of three punts inside the 20. The return men, Rogers and McKelvin were held in check but the Bills did a nice job on coverage as well.
Coaching Game: C-
Clearly, Gailey didn't make the necessary halftime adjustments the Pats did. Some risks paid off while others did not. Twice Chan started the game with successful fourth down conversions. Then again going for it on fourth and long was not a practical option. Benching Stevie Johnson hurt, but it was the right move. Last thing the Bills need is Stevie to be the next T.J. Whoeveryouare. Replacing George Edwards with Dave Wannstedt will have an interesting impact on next year's defense to be sure. (Look out later in the week for an article advocating a 3-4 defense by me).