The second quarter of the Bills 2012 season has been nothing short of disappointing bordering on disaster going 1-3 in their latest stretch. In their fifth game, the Bills were all but destroyed by the San Francisco 49ers losing 45-3. That game in particular was noted for the Bills becoming the first team in the modern NFL to give up 300 yards in the air and the ground. The Bills managed to edge out the then 4-1 Arizona Cardinals 19-16 in OT despite sloppy play at times. In week 7, the Bills suffered a heartbreaking 35-34 loss at home to the Tennessee Titans. Finally after their bye week, the Bills lost to the Houston Texans 21-9.
Above I have posted a link to the first part of this series (thanks for all the input and comments!) Obviously, the Bills look like a team that needs a lot of work (and coaching). Still, there are some bright spots on the roster despite struggles of varying areas on the field. So without further ado, I give you my grades for the Bills from their latest 4 games.
Passing Game: C-
While Ryan Fitzpatrick only threw 2 picks over 2 games; he averaged less than 200 yards per game and only managed 3 TDs over four games. His most successful receiver through this latest four game span was Stevie Johnson, with 20 catches for 221 yards and 1 TD. The Bills need to find a way to involve their other receivers more to become more effective passing.
Running Game: B
The Bills have one of deadliest duos in the backfield. Yet despite his supposed love of the run game, Chan Gailey only has Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller averaging 10 and 9 carries a game respectively. Both only ran 1 TD apiece for this span of time. Jackson had 174 yards (4.4 yards a carry) while Spiller had 221 yards (6.0 yards a carry). For those of you who want to get rid of the wildcat, just keep in mind that Brad Smith rushed 5 times for 56 yards (11.2 yards a carry).
The Bills offensive line did very well despite several injuries. The Bills were without starting LT Cordy Glenn and RG Kraig Urbik for a few games each. The Bills gave up just 7 sacks over the last four games, but particularly in the last game, gave Fitz little time to throw the ball as a result of only passing the ball. However, more worrisome is the fact the Bills will be without starting right tackle Erik Pears for the rest of the year. Also gone on IR are backup interior linemen Chad Rinehart and Colin Brown.
Pass Rush: B-
The Bills pass rush was a little better thanks to a healing Mario Williams who made 3 sacks in the last 4 games. Also getting in the mix is backup Kyle Moore who has recorded 1 sack and numerous pressures in that span. Kyle Williams despite not being 100% has been getting in the backfield a lot as well. Still Dareus has been somewhat quiet while Mario and Chris Kelsay have not been as productive as they could be. Consistency is an issue here as well.
Run Defense: F
In just four games the Bills surrendered 850 yards on the ground or a disgusting 7.0 yards a carry and 8 TDs. This includes the 300 yards they gave up in San Francisco. Yeah, that’s not good. At times the Bills defense can contain the backs, but as I said earlier in part one, the linebackers have trouble disengaging from blocks which causes the Bills to give up several big runs a game.
Pass Defense: C-
Let’s face it; if teams can just run over the Bills, they don’t really need to pass the ball now. Still the Bills gave up 300 yards to Alex Smith’s near-perfect performance. In the last four games they have given up 956 yards in the air (nearly 8 yards per attempt) and 7 TDs. The lone bright spot has been Jairus Byrd’s 2 picks against the Cardinals in week 6. Stephon Gilmore has been ok, but the currently injured Aaron Williams has struggled. George Wilson has been fair, but aside from Vernon Davis, the Bills have not had to worry with pass catching tight ends much…
Special Teamers: B+
The return men deserve an A for their great performance to date. Leodis McKelvin is averaging over 30 yards per kick return and over 10 yards per punt return (and had a punt return TD called back against the 49ers). Teams kicking away from him in turn have to deal with Brad Smith who returned 2 kicks for 109 yards including an 89 yard score against the Titans. Rian Lindell is once more the full time kicker connecting 7 of 8 attempts in the last four games. Coverage on returns has largely been decent. The only reason why this grade is not higher lies in the inconsistencies of rookie punter Shawn Powell, who despite his struggles has averaged 45.4 yards on 20 punts with 6 inside the 20.
You know things are bad when Gailey admits to making bad calls and also is unable to adjust his game plan against teams when they stack the box. More concerning is Dave Wannstedt’s inability to adjust his game plan to keep his defense from giving up an average of 29 points a game in the last 4 alone despite having talented players. Dial in the blitzes, mix up plays and throw in a few tricks once in a while coaches!
My 5 star players during this latest 4 game span are as followed:
FS Jairus Byrd [18 tackles, 2 picks, 1 FF and 2 passes defended]
RB C.J. Spiller [37 rushes for 221 yards (6.0 avg), 1 TD, 15 receptions for 117 yards (7.8 avg) and 0 TDs]
CB Leodis McKelvin [7 KR for 216 yards (30.8 avg), 0 TD and 7 PR for 75 yards (10.7 avg), 0 TD]
RB Fred Jackson [40 rushes for 174 yards (4.4 avg), 1 TD, 19 receptions for 98 yards (5.2 avg) and 1 TDs]
LB Nick Barnett [23 tackles, 2 sacks and 1 FF]