Mixed feelings on this one; the Bills struggled at times, especially offensively at the beginning, but they hung in there to beat the Jaguars 27-20. While this win hurts our draft stock, it should help to boost player morale and hopefully provided ample learning experiences for the Bills. Despite the win, the Bills are officially out of the playoff hunt, but can still bring the wind chill and snow down some division rivals’ throats. My thoughts and prayers to Stevie Johnson who lost his mom unexpectedly yesterday.
Rushing Offense: A-
The Bills finally got their run game up and rolling (admittedly against the worst run-D in the league. Nevertheless, Fred Jackson had a good game with 17 carries for 80 yards (4.7 avg) and C.J. Spiller also did well with 13 carries for 67 yards (5.2 avg). Summers added 14 yards to the equation while E.J. Manuel had 10 scrambles for 37 yards including a nice 8 yard run up the middle for a touchdown.
Passing Offense: B-
E.J. started poorly going 0-5 with an INT. After that though, Manuel completed 17 of 19 passes for 193 yards and 2 TDs. He also got sacked 4 times and lost a fumble, but this was perhaps his second best performance of the year. (Isn’t that somewhat sad...) Robert Woods led the Bills receivers with 5 catches for 82 yards and a TD while Frank Summers had the other TD reception.
Run Defense: D
The Bills struggles against (backup) RBs continued. Jags #2 RB Jordan Todman had 25 carries for 109 yards while a forced fumble by Aaron Williams prevented a would have been 25 yard TD run by Denard Robinson. No scores and 159 yards is not good, but remember, the Jags had been averaging under 75 yards this season on the ground.
Pass Defense: B-
The Bills secondary again gave up big yardage here and there along with two TDs, but they also came away with a nice strip-recovery by Robey, picks by A. Williams and Gilmore and 5 sacks from the front 7. They need to be consistent in maintaining coverage and not let the odd man break free.
Special Teams: C
Carpenter missed just his third field goal of the year from 54 yards out, but did make his other two attempts, both from 40+ yards out. Moorman has good on his 4 punts, netting 42.5 yards per punt. Nothing big in the return games from either sides.
Marrone and Hackett tried to ease Manuel into the game with some small throws that got butchered, but then switched to a run heavy mode with a more spaced out passing game. The defense gave up big yardage, but won the turnover battle. Way to motivate!
Honestly, the biggest thing the Bills now have to look at is weighing shoring up the front 7 of the defense with a linebacker, versus giving E.J. Manuel a tall starting receiver to throw to. Right now if Mike Evans, the 6’5" WR from Texas A&M is available, he has the slight edge to LB Khalil Mack as Marrone will want someone to complement Robert Woods on the outside. The utility linebacker would then be addressed sometime on Day 2.