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Bills Daily Gameday Section

2015 Was A Disappointing Year

The 2015 season was the 16th straight year that the Bills missed the playoffs but they were .500 or better in back to back seasons for the first time since the drought began. They now have the longest playoff drought in any of the four major sports in America. The theme of this offseason is going to be continuity. The coach and GM remain while the goal will be keeping their own instead of adding too many outside free agents. For the 16th year in a row we do our position by position final exam grades as well as individual player grades for key players at each position. We also take a stab at what we think next season's roster will look like:

Quarterbacks: Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel

The journey for this group started with an open three way competition for the starting job. Matt Cassel was considered the favorite but when he lost the job to Taylor he was released, resigned, and eventually traded for a 5th round draft pick. Is Taylor the QB of the future? That is still up for debate but he is the quarterback of the present and showed a lot of promise with his arm and his legs. Taylor broke the club's rushing record for a quarterback and had one of the best QB ratings in club history but struggled seeing the whole field and was uncomfortable in the pocket. He also had only one late game comeback victory even though he had several opportunities to do so.
Final Overall Grade B: It will be interesting to see how much more development Taylor will have with a year as a starter under his belt.
Taylor B+: He will be playing for a huge contract next season. Goes in to 2016 as the unquestioned starter.
Manuel F: He was 0-2 as a starter but may be back because Whaley is a big fan of his and it won't save them any cap space by cutting him.

Running Backs: LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams, Mike Gillislee, Boobie Dixon, Jerome Felton

The Bills led the NFL in rushing thanks to solid run blocking schemes and solid running by the backs and Taylor. McCoy had an injury prone season battling a hamstring injury at the start and a knee injury at the close of the season. He still managed 895 yards rushing. 5th round pick Williams was a revelation but also struggled with injuries. Despite missing several games with various injuries he still ran for over 500 yards with a healthy 5.6 yard per carry average. Mike Gillislee was signed late in the season off the practice squad and made big plays week after week down the stretch. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry as he ran for 267 yards.
Final Overall Grade A: Top rushing attack in the league is deep with talent.
McCoy B: He will be the starter once again but doesn't need to carry the whole load with this talented crew.
Williams A-: Will be the number two back but needs to find a way to stay healthy.
Gillislee A: A nice late season surprise definitely earned a roster spot in 2016.
Dixon D: Likely will be gone since his role is down to mainly special teams.
Felton D: Little used blocker should be back since no real cap savings by releasing him.

Receivers: Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Chris Hogan, Percy Harvin, Marquise Goodwin, Greg Salas, Charles Clay, Chris Gragg, MarQuies Gray, Nick O'Leary

Watkins struggled with injuries and lack of targets in the first half of the season but exploded in the second half on and off the field to earn our player of the year award. On the field he was the league's third best receiver in the 2nd half of the season while he took a big leadership role in the locker room. After the former first round pick the Bills had little success. Woods battled a groin injury all season long that held him to just 47 receptions and 552 yards receiving. Hogan had a down season while Harvin's season was wasted by injury after a promising start. Clay made plays but not enough to match the big contract he signed while his backups did next to nothing. The group as a whole were solid blockers especially downfield.
Final Overall Grade C: Have already started addressing major depth issues with this unit.
Watkins B+: Next year he should take the final step in becoming truly elite.
Woods D: If healthy should have a big role in his contract year.
Hogan F: RFA should be tendered but will have to work hard to earn a roster spot.
Harvin Inc: His career may be over but is days in Buffalo certainly are over.
Goodwin F: Injury prone receiver may be going to the Olympics instead of training camp.
Salas Inc: Played well in the finale and has already been resigned for next year. Will be given a shot to earn a roster spot.
Clay C+: Needs to take his game to the next level to be the top tier tight end he is being paid to be.
Gragg D: Should be back but the Bills will be looking for better options in the backup tight end spots.
Gray Inc: RFA who should be tendered because of his talent but will need to work hard to earn a spot.
O'Leary F: Did nothing when activated and will have a tough time making the team in 2016.

Offensive Line: Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller, Seantrel Henderson, Kraig Urbik, Cyrus Kouandjio, Jordan Mills

This unit did a solid job against the run. They ran Greg Roman's complicated blocking schemes very well as they showed athleticism pulling outside to make the sweeps a staple of the running game. Incognito had a great season in his triumphant return to the league. He got our offensive MVP award. Wood and Glenn were solid if not stellar. The right side struggled but Miller showed promise in his rookie year while battling injuries. Right tackle remains a question mark. They did give up 42 sacks which is three more than last year.
Final Overall Grade B+: Free agency leaves the future of this unit uncertain.
Glenn A-: Will get huge dollars in free agency, definitely one of two priorities for the Bills to resign.
Incognito A+: The other priority of the offseason. Wants to stay and feels loyalty towards the team. More likely to stay in free agency than Glenn.
Wood A-: Will once again be the glue of the offensive line which hopefully won't have to be totally rebuilt.
Miller C-: Will look to make a big jump in his second season, staying healthy will be key.
Henderson D: His future is uncertain as he battles Crohn's disease. He will need to figure out how to manage it to resume his career.
Urbik B: Solid backup but has a big cap figure for a nonstarter so he may be a cap casualty.
Kouandjio D: Will likely be given yet another chance to break into the lineup especially with Henderson's health issues and uncertainty of free agents.
Mills D: RFA that may not be brought back.

Defensive Line: Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Jerry Hughes, Corbin Bryant, Stefan Charles, IK Enemkpali

A very disappointing unit which had two $100 Million players and two $50 Million players. The results were just 14 of the team's 21 sacks. The scheme had linemen dropping into coverage a lot but that wasn't the whole story. There was little pressure from the front four even when they rushed one on one. Hughes was our Defensive MVP as he was the best player on a weak unit.
Final Overall Grade D: Huge disappointment was it the scheme or the players? Probably a little bit of both.
Mario Williams F: His days in Buffalo are now over.
Kyle Williams B: His leadership was missed on and off the field when he got hurt. That is reason enough to bring him back despite a hefty cap figure and his age.
Dareus C: Will be the anchor of the defensive line once again next year.
Hughes B: Needs to play more disciplined but he is the premier pass rusher on this team.
Bryant B: RFA who will be tenders. Solid backup player who filled in nicely in 2015.
Charles D: RFA who will likely not be tendered. Doesn't seem to be a fit for this scheme.
Enemkpali D: Low level player who will struggle to make the squad next year.

Linebackers: Nigel Bradham, Preston Brown, Manny Lawson, A.J. Tarpley

May have been the weakest unit on the team. They seemed to struggle with the scheme and seemed out of sync a lot of the time. The exception is Lawson who thrived playing all three linebacker positions and had a lot of success. He was our unsung hero.
Final Overall Grade D: Huge overhaul of this unit is desired but may not be likely because of the cap situation.
Bradham D: UFA who will be leaving as he doesn't fit into the scheme well and the money needs to be spent on the offensive line free agents.
Brown D: Struggled getting the plays called in 2015 but will likely be their best option in the same role next year unless a veteran proficient in the Ryan scheme comes available for the right price.
Lawson A: A Ryan favorite who will have a big role in 2016 like he did in 2015.
Tarpley C: Played his way off the team and then played his way back on. Will be given a shot to be a solid depth player again next year.

Secondary: Stephon Gilmore, Ronald Darby, Nickell Robey, Leodis McKelvin, Mario Butler, Ron Brooks, Corey Graham, Aaron Williams, Bacarri Rambo, Duke Williams

The cornerbacks played solid as Gilmore has now developed into a top tier lockdown corner. Darby was more successful than anyone could imagine in his rookie year but the safeties struggled with the scheme and injuries. The pass defense finished 19th in the league and that isn't good enough.
Final Overall Grade C: May have the best corner duo in the NFL but the backline has issues.
Gilmore A: He wants the big money and will be playing for that contract if not resigned before the season starts.
Darby A: Will continue to develop into the team's second lockdown corner.
Robey C: Solid but unspectacular nickel back. Not a priority to upgrade so will likely stay in that role next year.
McKelvin B: High cap figure so he may not be back. Would like to see them restructure his deal to keep him. Solid backup player.
Butler B Showed promise in 2015, may be the third barrier corner next year if McKelvin isn't back.
Brooks C: Will not be back as an unrestricted free agent. He tweeted as much already.
Graham D: Terrible 2015 for this marginal player. They will look to upgrade this spot next year.
Aaron Williams B: All eyes will be on his neck. Will he be able to come back from the serious injury?
Rambo C+ Ryan loves this big play guy who also makes big mistakes. RFA who should be tendered and will have a role next year but it may be somewhat reduced.
Duke Williams D Will struggle to make the team next year.

Special Teams: Dan Carpenter, Colton Schmidt, Jordan Gay, Marcus Thigpen, Walter Powell, Garrison Sanborn

By all accounts it was a down year for this unit. Carpenter had a better field goal percentage than his extra point percentage. The return game was abysmal. The coverage units were fine and Schmidt is one of the top ten punters in the game and was our Special Teams MVP.
Final Overall Grade D: Disappointing season after a great 2014.
Carpenter D: Ryan was unhappy with Carpenter in the preseason and he never kicked his way out of the doghouse. They will bring in real competition for him over the summer.
Schmidt A: Will be back next year, no reason to bring in competition for him.
Gay B: Solid kickoff guy but do you really need to use a roster spot on a kickoff specialist?
Thigpen F: Disappointing season for all returners. Thigpen was cut and resigned but never had a big play.
Powell C: Will be given a chance to win the returner job next year.
Coverage Teams B+: Gave up no scores for a second straight year. Need Marcus Easley to be healthy next year.
Sanborn B: Still a solid long snapper had one bad snap go through Schmidt's hands.

Coaching: Rex Ryan, Greg Roman, Dennis Thurman, Danny Crossman

Ryan came in with a lot of fanfare and hope before coming crashing down to earth. The defensive guru saw the side of the ball he specializes in collapse under his complex scheme while the offense led by Greg Roman was better than expected. Crossman saw one of the best special teams unit in 2014 have a horrible year in 2015.
Final Overall Grade D: Another disappointing season ends too early.
Ryan D: Depending on who you listen to, he was either too stubborn to change his scheme to fit his players or listened to his players too much which made the hybrid season a failure. He will run the defense the way he wants to next year for better or worse.
Roman A: Got the most out of Taylor and had a fantastic running gameplan.
Thurman F: Didn't have much power since Ryan called the plays. Will have less power in 2016 with another Ryan now onboard.
Crossman F: Amazing fall from grace may see him out of job.

Print Friendly Version
2015 Buffalo Bills
Record: (8-8) Division: (4-2)
vs AFC: (7-5) vs NFC: (1-3)
Home: (5-3) Road: (3-5)
Place: 3rd

Team Rankings: Final
Total Offense: 13th
Passing: 28th
Rushing: 1st
Total Defense: 19th
Passing: 19th
Rushing: 16th

Post Season Awards
Player Of The Year
Sammy Watkins - He was the best receiver in the game over the last half of the season and became a leader in the locker room. He had his first of what looks like many 1,000 yard seasons and led the team with 60 catches.

Offensive MVP
Richie Incognito - He solidified the offensive line and was one of, if not the best, guards in the game this year.

Defensive MVP
Jerry Hughes - The new defensive scheme didn't hurt him too much as he was very disruptive in gaining 5 sacks and forcing two fumbles.

Special Teams MVP
Colton Schmidt - He broke the club record for net punting average and had a gross average of 46.3 yards. He only had 3 touchbacks on the season with 22 punts ending inside the 20.

Rookie Of The Year
Ronald Darby - One of the top rookies in all of football he shattered the team record with 21 passes defensed and didn't give up a touchdown until late in the season.

Unsung Hero
Manny Lawson - He was a jack of all trades in Rex Ryan's defense. He lined up anywhere and everywhere from all linebacker spots to defensive end and had a fantastic season.

The Bills are now...
104-151 since 2000.
30-45 in December and January since 2000.
135-14-1 all time when scoring at least 31 points.
8-1 this year when they throw less than 30 passes.
0-7 this year when they throw more than 30 passes.
2-2 this year when scoring at least 31 points.
8-2 this year when holding opponents to under 24 points.
58-62 in home games since 2001.
12-28 in road games since 2011.
15-35 in road divison games since 2000.
9-19 in their last 28 road games.
6-12 in their last 18 road divison games.
20-14 in OT.
4-14 in primetime since 2001.
8-19-1 when allowing a safety.
36-81 against team's with a winning record since 2000.
34-58 against the AFC East since 2001.
17-31 against the AFC East since 2008.
11-13 when they have a punt return TD.
34-10 when winning the turnover battle since 2009.
5-5 in their history in games where there are no turnovers.
5-0 when each team has a 140+ yard rusher.
43-32 when the QB throws for over 300 yards.

Did you know...
The 1,249 Penalty yards was a franchise record.
The Bills Offense had a franchise low 19 turnovers this season.
The Pass Defense allowed 3,972 net passing yards, a new team record.
The Bills QBs threw a franchise low 9 interceptions for the season.
Colton Schmidt set a franchise record with a 41.3 net average for the season.
The Bills Won Their Final 2 Games for only the 7th time and first since 1999.
The Bills Running Game had three 500 yard rushers for the first time since 1962.
The Bills Running Game ran for 2,432 yards this year, 6th most in team history.
The Bills Offense gained 5,775 yards this year, 4th most in team history and most since 1992.
The Bills Defense had just 21 sacks. Their lowest total in a 16 game season in club history.
Tyrod Taylor is the first Bills QB to have 40+ yards rushing in six games during a season.
Tyrod Taylor broke Doug Flutie's club record for most yards rushing by a QB in a season (517).
Sammy Watkins now has the most receptions of any Bill in their first two seasons (125).
Sammy Watkins is the first Bill to have 12 TDs in less than 100 catches.
Sammy Watkins is the fifth Bills to have 10 or more TD receptions in his first two seasons.
Ronald Darby broke the team's rookie record for most passes defensed in a season (21).
Leodis McKelvin ranks 2nd in club history in punt returns and punt return yards.
Leodis McKelvin ranks 2nd in club history in kickoff return yard average.
Mario Williams has 41 sacks as a Bill. 5th most in team history.
Kyle Williams has 35 career sacks moving him into 9th place on the team's all time list, 1st among interior linemen.

 2015 Results
Click on the final score for Bills Daily review/analysis of the game.
Sept. 13Indianapolis W 27-14
Sept. 20New England L 40-32
Sept. 27@ Miami W 41-14
Oct. 4NY Giants L 24-10
Oct. 11@ Tennessee W 14-13
Oct. 18Cincinnati L 34-21
Oct. 25vs. Jacksonville* L 34-31
Nov. 1Bye
Nov. 8Miami W 33-17
Nov. 12@ NY Jets W 22-17
Nov. 23@ New England L 20-13
Nov. 29@Kansas City L 30-22
Dec. 6Houston W 30-21
Dec. 13@ Philadelphia L 23-20
Dec. 20@ Washington L 35-25
Dec. 27Dallas W 16-6
Jan. 3NY Jets W 22-17
*-In London


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