I'll be honest. Coming off of a holiday highlighted by three full days of tryptophan-induced lethargy (oh, how I love Thanksgiving), I knew heading into Sunday that my weekly film session post wasn't going to be as in-depth as usual. My apologies for not warning you before this morning; call it a preparatory lethargy on my part.
The Buffalo Bills blew the Miami Dolphins out yesterday. There, I said it. If we're calling the Bills' 27-7 loss to New Orleans a blowout loss, then their 31-14 performance yesterday was a blowout win. I've got some observations for you to ponder and/or expand upon after the jump, but let's just get the most obvious note out of the way: Gus Johnson is awesome. Moving on.
On Perry Fewell's gonads. I'll be talking more about the interim head coach this afternoon, so I'll keep this brief. Praise Fewell all you want for his decision to send Rian Lindell onto the field for a 56-yard field goal attempt that proved to be a huge fourth-quarter spark for his team as well as the decisive points in the game. It was ballsy, and it worked to perfection. Understand the hot and cold that comes with his territory, though - if he punts there, or the kick misses, he's a goat this morning. Keep that in mind when Fewell inevitably makes his next mistake.
Case in point - Tony Sparano is a good coach. He put his stamp of approval on a ballsy call in the first quarter, and Ricky Williams threw an interception out of the Wildcat. That completely changed the face of the game, because it was looking like a Dolphin blowout early. Today, Sparano is the goat. He's still, however, a good coach.
On Ryan Fitzpatrick's gonads. According to Fewell, they're large. They came in handy in this game; Fitzpatrick certainly had his best performance as a Bill, and I thought he played a hell of a game. Yeah, he's still inaccurate. Sure, he's still good for one horrible read per game. Absolutely, he's got limitations. But he's also a gamer and has a flair for the dramatic; add his aforementioned gonads to those qualities, and you have one heck of a backup quarterback. The offense has now improved in two straight weeks under his direction; it'll be curious to see if they can build some momentum with actual NFL defenses coming up on the schedule.
On Fred Jackson. Fewell gave him the start - Freddie touched the ball 20 times and scored twice, while Marshawn Lynch got just four touches - and it's the latest in a line of several smart personnel moves Fewell has made. (Starting Fitzpatrick at quarterback was the first.) Jackson has deserved the lion's share of the rushing load all season, and as long as he continues to produce, he should - and will - remain in that role. He's such an asset to this offense because he doesn't make negative plays, is dependable and tough, and can hurt a defense in a lot of ways. Jackson out-performed Ricky Williams yesterday, touching the ball 20 times for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Don't write off Mr. Lynch, however. He's everyone's favorite whipping boy at the moment - apparently, it's impossible for a fan base to survive unless at least one whipping boy is at its disposal - but Lindell's 56-yard game-winner wouldn't have been possible without Lynch's 9-yard catch and run to set it up. Lynch, too, is a player. He's just not the hot hand right now.
On the run defense. Yes, turning the tides in the fourth quarter helped, as the Dolphins were forced to put their hopes on the right arm of Chad Henne, which clearly didn't work. But give credit to Fewell and the defensive coaching staff for finding a way to slow down the run in the second half; Miami ran for just 52 yards in that time frame, at under 2.9 yards per attempt. Miami became increasingly one-dimensional throughout the game, and as a result, the Bills were able to crank up the aggression and pick off three Henne passes in the fourth quarter. That doesn't happen if Miami, and most importantly Williams (79 rushing yards in the first half, 36 in the second half), continue to run at will.
On the safety rotation. More credit for Fewell - he had a safety rotation in on Sunday that kept Jairus Byrd off the field for a good chunk of the game. That's tough to do when you're talking about the NFL leader in interceptions, but Fewell knows his guys. Byrd is a liability against the run, and in case you weren't aware, the Dolphins are kind of really excellent at running the football. Donte Whitner and George Wilson both played the run relatively well, particularly in the second half, and both made their share of plays near the line of scrimmage. Byrd was still in enough to prevent Miami from attacking the Bills deep; teams are petrified of throwing the long pass because of Byrd's presence. Yeah, Miami's complete lack of receiving talent has a lot to do with that, but for this particular game, Fewell played the matchup game with his safeties brilliantly.
On Drayton Florence. It is still mind-boggling to me that some folks actually expected him to be released in the pre-season. Aside from Byrd, one could make an argument that Florence has been Buffalo's most valuable defender this season. He'll never be a high-interception guy, because he just doesn't have the hands to do it, but Florence is a physical, aggressive cornerback who plays with an attitude that fits the ideal mentality of 'Bills football' to a T. He's consistent, he rarely gets beat, and aside from a minor knee injury early in the season, he's been durable - another rare gift for a Bills player. He's having an outstanding season, and it might be worth considering a Florence contract extension once the front office and head coaching situation is figured out (Florence signed a two-year deal last March).
That's it for this morning. More on Fewell later this afternoon. As usual, your comments and observations are welcome and encouraged.