Week 15: Fitz Struggles A Big Concern
Offense has been terrible during long losing streak.
by Steve Saslow

Here are our position by position grades:


Ryan Fitzpatrick just keeps getting worse and worse. His throws were grossly offline for the most part as he constantly overthrew his receivers. He gave the ball back to Miami instead of taking a sack throwing an easy interception to help Miami add to their first half lead. The Bills desperately needed to get back in the game in the third quarter but he once again overthrew a wide open Stevie Johnson on one play and then threw an interception on his next two throws. He tried to mount a comeback against the prevent defense but all he did was pad his stats.
Grade F: Fitz was 31 of 47 for 316 yards but all it showed is how misleading statistics can be.

Running Backs:

C.J. Spiller had consecutive runs of 18 and 24 yards to score the Bills first touchdown but then disappeared from the gameplan for a long stretch of the game. He didn't turn for a screen pass that resulted in a sack of Fitzpatrick and missed picking up one blitz. Despite those mistakes he was the best player on the field in this game for the Bills. He had 91 yards rushing on 12 carries and a touchdown. He also led the team with nine catches for 76 yards and a receiving touchdown.
Tashard Choice fumbled while taking a snap out of the wildcat. He did recover but didn't get the first down. He had five carries for 15 yards and added three catches for 41 yards.
Grade B+: Needed to give it to Spiller more, no reason to mix in Choice.


Stevie Johnson had five catches for 82 yards. His catch just before halftime got them into close field goal range as he got down before time expired.
Brad Smith had a holding penalty that negated a first down conversion. He caught three passes in garbage time for just five yards.
David Nelson had six catches for 60 yards.
Derek Hagan had his first TD as a Bills on one of his two catches for 12 yards. Was called for a holding penalty that was declined.
Lee Smith had a hard hit and left early with an ankle injury.
Mike Caussin was called for a holding penalty that took away a first down conversion.
Grade D: Not all their fault, they needed to be 10 feet tall to catch some of Fitz's throws.

Offensive Line:

Andy Levitre had a key block to spring Spiller on his 24 yard touchdown run. He also gave up a sack.
Chris Hairston came in the game at left tackle in the 2nd quarter and was called for a false start penalty.
Demetrius Bell got the start at left tackle but was spelled by Hairston for a bit.
Erik Pears was called for a holding penalty than beaten by Cameron Wake for a sack on the next play that cost the Bills a combined 20 yards to kill their opening possession. He was also called for a facemask penalty.
Grade C: Gave up three sacks but did open up holes in the running game.

Defensive Line:

Marcell Dareus got a sack on the first defensive series. He had three tackles as well.
Dwan Edwards stopped Reggie Bush cold on a 2nd down run on Miami's first series. He then helped stop Bush on a third and 1 to force a punt late in the first quarter. He finished with six tackles.
Alex Carrington had one tackle.
Grade D: Allowed too many holes for Bush to run through. Only got one sack against a pathetic offensive line without Long.


Chris Kelsay missed a tackle in the backfield on 3rd and 1 allowing Bush to get Miami's first 1st down of the game. He got a sack and forced fumble just before halftime to keep them from expanding their lead. He was more active than usual with seven tackles.
Nick Barnett had a tackle for a three yard loss on a Daniel Thomas run. He had eight tackles.
Kelvin Sheppard helped Edwards stop Bush to force a punt in the first quarter. He had four tackles
Spencer Johnson had three tackles.
Arthur Moats recovered a fumble just before halftime to keep Miami off the board.
Grade C: Seemed very active but did allow too many of Bush's 203 yards.


Drayton Florence was called for a late hit on Bush that set Miami up at the Bills 5. He had good coverage in the end zone on an overthrown pass. He was then called for a pass interference penalty. Both penalties were questionable. He was then beaten for a 65 yard TD pass early in the third quarter to Brandon Marshall. It was a perfect pass. He then made a play by stripping Marshall of the ball after he converted a 4th down with a catch.
Aaron Williams forced a first quarter fumble. He was beaten on a 31 yard completion to Brian Hartline. He knocked down a pass in the end zone forcing Miami to settle for three. He should have picked it off though to make them settle for zero. He was then beaten for a 33 yard gain by Hartline in the final minute of the half. Hartline beat him again early in the third to covert a 3rd and 2 short pass. He had a good hit on an end around that almost caused a fumble.
Jairus Byrd caught Bush in the backfield for a five yard loss on a blitz. He was called for holding down by the goal line giving Miami another set of downs. He made up for it by forcing a third down incompletion in the end zone making Miami settle for three.
George Wilson recovered the first quarter fumble that the Bills turned into seven points. He missed a tackle on Bush on a 28 yard gain. He was in on seven tackles.
Grade C: Gave up only 10 pass completions but they went for 217 yards. Too many big plays.

Special Teams:

Brian Moorman has been outkicking his coverage a lot this year. He did it again on his 2nd punt. He boomed it 62 yards and it was returned 25. He had a 48 yard punting average but only a 35.4 yard net. Two were downed inside the 20.
Dave Rayner missed an easy 26 yard field goal from the center of the field as the first half expired. He hit a 34 yarder and was 1 for 2 on his onside kicks.
Justin Rogers had a 42 yard kickoff return that was a season long for the Bills until he beat it with a 54 yarder in the second half. He did bobble a kickoff and ran it out of the end zone anyway and was stopped at the 14. Finished with four kickoff returns for a 33.5 yard average.
Leodis McKelvin had two punt returns for six yards.
Coverage Units were bad in this game giving up six punt returns for a whopping 101 yards, a 16.8 yard average. The kick coverage units did better allowing only 53 yards on three returns.
Grade D: They have failed the team in the losing streak as well.


Chan Gailey got too cute on offense by running the wildcat on 3rd and 1 with Choice instead of Smith. He fumbled and recovered short of the first down. Spiller had some big plays early and then again Gailey went away from him for a big stretch of the game. Why give Choice some of Spiller's time? The team tried valiantly to come back but it was too little, too late. Gailey is too enamored with Fitzpatrick.
George Edwards may be in trouble as rumors were that Dave Wannstedt was the one calling the plays in this game. Gailey denied that. They went more four man fronts and the defense played with passion for a lot of this game ripping the ball away and forcing three takeaways. On the first play of the second quarter two guys were wide open on a Moore touchdown pass to Fasano.
Bruce DeHaven has a problem in his coverage units as they give up way too many yards on punt returns. The 2nd onside kick was a bad play call. It was an easy recovery.
Grade F: Any reason to pass a coaching staff that has lost seven in a row?

Bills Blitz
NFL.com Gamebook
Dolphins Game Preview
Gameday Homepage