The Anthony Lynn Era (if we can call it that yet) has begun on a low note.
In a game that had a very strong preseason feel to it, the Bills dropped their season finale to the New York Jets, 30-10, finishing off their seventeenth consecutive season without a playoff appearance. It’s their second straight loss and fourth in the last five games, with the lone win coming against the then-winless Cleveland Browns in Week 15.
EJ Manuel, starting in place of Tyrod Taylor, was awful. He finished 9-of-20 for 86 yards, but even those numbers don’t begin to tell the story of how badly he missed his receivers. He underthrew a wide-open Charles Clay for a surefire touchdown at the end of the first half, and routinely threw passes to nobody at all. He also lost a fumble on a sack before giving way to rookie Cardale Jones in the fourth quarter.
Jones, for his part, looked about as good as one could expect from a severely inexperienced rookie who was inactive for the first 15 games of the season. He finished 6-of-11 for 96 yards and an interception in one quarter of work. He’ll probably be the backup next season, but definitely needs quite a bit of work in live game situations before he could be considered reliable.
Even the Bills’ rushing offense had a rough day. LeSean McCoy had 10 yards on five carries before an ankle injury ended his day. Rookie Jonathan Williams ripped off a 20-yard run before losing yards on his next two carries and losing a fumble. Mike Gillislee finished with a team-high 40 rushing yards on 15 carries, including a touchdown when the game was well out of hand. Reggie Bush didn’t earn a carry, making him the first running back with double-digit carries and negative rushing yards in a season.
Defensively, the Bills made the woebegone Jets look positively productive. Bilal Powell ran for 122 yards on 22 carries, repeatedly gashing the Bills defense for big gains. He also caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick, who went 20-of-30 for 210 and touchdowns to Powell and Jalen Marshall. Lorenzo Alexander recorded a sack, giving the Pro Bowler 12.5 on the year after nine in his first nine seasons combined.
Even the special teams got in on the futility. The Bills’ official Twitter account summed it up nicely:
Gillislee doesn't field the live ball on the kickoff, Jets recover in their endzone. Touchdown. So, yeah.— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) January 1, 2017
30-3 Jets | 3:21 4Q
Well, we’ve finally reached the end of the season. The Bills finish 7-9 for the first time since they hit that mark three straight years under Dick Jauron from 2006 to 2008. There’s plenty to look forward to in the offseason, including a coaching search, the Draft, free agency, and a new season where we can go through all this crap again.
For all of us here at Buffalo Rumblings, thanks for sticking around.