Week 2: Passing Game Shines In Rout
Bledsoe's Play Reminiscent Of Last Year
by Steve Saslow
With the new look Bills it is all suppose to be about ball control, power running, and a solid defense. Against Jacksonville, they had a solid defense but the running game was non-existent. They were able to reach back to some of the success from last year to blowout the Jaguars. Drew Bledsoe looked like the player that started last year as he was as close to perfect as he could get in the 38-17 rout. The receivers also showed that they could play even without the departed Peerless Price. Our position by position grades reflect the solid performance of the passing game:
Drew Bledsoe had his second best day of his career with his 144.2 passer rating for the game. He was 19 of 25 for 314 yards and was nearly perfect when the game was on the line in the first half. Alex Van Pelt played most of the fourth quarter and completed his first pass of the year. Grade A+: His best game as a Bill, and that is saying a lot.
Travis Henry ran for three touchdowns as once again he had the nose for the end zone but that is the only time he ran well. He was held to a paltry 1.2 yards per carry finishing with 26 yards on 21 carries and just one reception for 2 yards. Sammy Morris only carried once but that was from the QB position on a disastrous fake punt. Joe Burns played again in garbage time and was a bit more successful gaining 22 yards on 7 carries. Sam Gash did not do a great job opening up holes for the running game and was called for a costly personal foul. He did catch a short pass from Bledsoe to convert a fourth down play. Grade D: Not the reason for the offense's success.
Eric Moulds led the way for the second straight week, he caught seven balls for 133 yards and a touchdown. He caught three long passes giving him a 19 yard average per catch including his 36 yard touchdown. Josh Reed rebounded nicely from his poor opening day performance. He was huge early as he caught five passes for 71 yards and had a couple of others called back by penalties. He didn't haul in one bomb off his fingers that would have gone for a score, but it was slightly deflected. Bobby Shaw had a big game against his former team, catching three balls for 81 yards, a whopping 27 yard average and it included a 54 yard score when he got wide open deep in the secondary. Dave Moore was non-existent and has lost his starting job to Mark Campbell who made what Don Criqui called "one of the best catches you'll ever see". On the first play from scrimmage, he caught a 26 yard pass from Bledsoe in double coverage and was layed out when he caught it. He some how held on and got up. Grade A+: Peerless who? What a performance by this group.
They did a solid job in pass protection as Bledsoe was very rarely pressured and not sacked at all. Run blocking was another story. The scheme seemed to be to go outside with Henry but he never had much blocking and struggled all day. Trey Teague had another bad snap in the shotgun, that's two in two weeks. Grade C: A in pass protections; F in run blocking.
This unit got some pressure on Mark Brunell. Ryan Denney and Ron Edwards each had a sack. Pat Williams was called for a late hit on Brunell but was more active this week than last week. Sam Adams was quiet and there were holes in the middle for Fred Taylor to run through. The Jags averaged 4.3 yards a carry. Aaron Schobel was also quiet in this game. Grade C+: Kept up the pressure but loosened up in the running attack.
Takeo Spikes had another big day as he led the team with 9 total tackles. He also had a sack. London Fletcher was surprisingly quiet with only four tackles. Jeff Posey had five tackles but missed Brunell on his one yard touchdown run on fourth down. Josh Stamer and Dominique Stevenson saw some action for Posey and Spikes and played well. Grade B+: Did the job once again.
Antoine Winfield had another big day, with another unusual high number of tackles. He had seven tackles, many in the open field. None bigger than his stop of Kyle Brady for a seven yard loss in the second quarter when the Jags had the momentum. Nate Clements was quiet but didn't give up any big plays. Lawyer Milloy was much quieter than last week. Pierson Prioleau knocked a ball away in the end zone saving a touchdown. Grade A: Held Brunell to just 122 yards passing when the game was still a game.
Sammy Morris set the tone with a 52 yard return of the opening kickoff. Antonio Brown was much better averaging 12.7 yards on his punt returns. Rian Lindell hit his only field goal attempt, a 27 yarder. Brian Moorman was solid again averaging 48.5 yards on his two punts including a whopping 56 yarder from the shadow of his own goal post. Grade A: Special teams may be closer to special than it has been for a long time.
Gregg Williams had them ready to play and avoided the letdown but the fake punt was used at the absolute wrong time and was the absolute wrong way to do it. It could have cost the team the game as the Jaguars gained unbelievable momentum. That play should be saved for when they trail and it should be much quicker to use the element of surprise. Grade B: Despite the boneheaded call, they were ready to play and it was a very good game plan.
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