Week 9: Offense Stinks Up The Road
Offensive ineptness spoils solid defensive effort
by Steve Saslow
The Bills came back from the bye week and were suppose to be prepared for a battle in Texas. The defense was, as they put up a stellar effort but the pathetic display by the offense on the road once again was the undoing of the Bills in this one. Our gameday grades will reflect the glaring difference in both main units:
Drew Bledsoe was downright awful once again. He threw for just 104 yards, completing 50% of his passes and fumbled the ball away twice. He would have had a third fumble if it wasn't for the tuck rule. He seemed skittish and nervous against a blitz that he had two weeks to prepare for. He looked like a rookie out there, or worse Rob Johnson. Grade F-: By far, the worst road quarterback in the NFL.
Travis Henry was the only player on offense to show signs of success. He ran for 80 yards on 21 carries and was just a shoestring tackle away from breaking a couple long. He did fumble once but it was recovered by Mark Campbell. He struggled in blitz pickup. Sammy Morris saw substantial playing time as he was in to pickup the blitz. They used him effectively on a screen pass late in the first half that he almost broke for a score as it was one of the few times they beat the blitz in the game. Sam Gash saw extensive playing time in the backfield and blocked well. One of his blocks gave the Bills a first down. Grade B: Not the reason they couldn't score.
With Eric Moulds may still be slowed by his groin injury because he did not seem himself out there. He had five catches for 32 yards but wasn't even close to making a game breaking play. Josh Reed had four catches for 30 yards and one big one for 11 yards on third and 10. He did drop a pass. Bobby Shaw only caught two passes for eight yards. Mark Campbell caught one pass and Dave Moore caught two passes back to back but they never went back to him. Grade D: Didn't do anything to help beat the blitz.
They did a decent job opening up holes for the running game but didn't know what to do against the blitz. Bledsoe was constantly under heavy pressure against the blitz all game long. Jonas Jennings was inactive but Marcus Price filled in well. Ruben Brown was called for a leg whip on the Bills first possession, amazingly enough it was the only penalty on them all game long. Trey Teague didn't make the right calls to pick up the blitz. Grade C-: Three years under Williams and they still can't hold back a blitz.
The line stuffed the run very well. Constantly making stops in the backfield before they tired in the final minutes. Pat Williams had a solid day as he had seven tackles including a few stops behind the line of scrimmage. Sam Adams didn't have a tackle but he clogged the middle very well. Aaron Schobel was active and had a sack along with a pressure that broke up a WR option pass. Ryan Denney had one nice open field tackle. Grade A: Did a solid job against a tough offensive line.
London Fletcher led the team with seven tackles but was beat by TE Dan Campbell for the lone touchdown of the game. Takeo Spikes was active at times and nearly had an interception. Jeff Posey as usual was very quiet. Grade B: They made most of the plays they had to.
Nate Clements had six tackles and was solid in coverage but was beaten downfield on one long pass. Antoine Winfield was very active, he had a great open field tackle that forced a punt and a fourth down pass breakup as well. He was also very close to picking off a pass that would have been returned for a touchdown but he couldn't hold on, which has been a problem his whole career. Lawyer Milloy had his best game since opening day. He was very active with seven tackles. Kevin Thomas was beat for one reception. Terrence McGee saw extensive action in the secondary and knocked a third down pass away from Terry Glenn and forced a receiver out of bounds on another third down play. Izell Reese made a third down stop of his own. Grade A: Held the Cowboys to 114 yards in the air, excellent game.
Brian Moorman struggled as he couldn't "flip the field" as his punts were constantly short and returnable. He finished with a 40.4 yard average but his net was just over 33 yards. Rian Lindell was 2 for 2 on field goals hitting both of them just inside the right upright. Antonio Brown was only able to return one of nine punts and got seven yards on the return. His kick returning continues to improve as he averaged 28.5 yards on two returns including a 37 yard return of the opening kickoff. Joe Burns returned a short kickoff 17 yards to the 40. Terrence McGee was a special teams demon with four tackles including one on Joey Galloway right after he caught it for no gain. Grade B-: The one unit that is performing with some consistency.
Everyone hoped that Gregg Williams would have the team ready after the bye week but only two of three units were ready. Kevin Gilbride needs to take a heat as the offense was totally unprepared for the Cowboys blitz package. That is inexcusable as everyone knew it was coming. Also, why did they continue to try and run sweeps against a very fast defense like the Cowboys? When was the last time they even tried to go deep? At least try to stretch the defense by throwing it deep. Grade F: Seven more games before this coaching staff gets fired.
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