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2014 Was A Year To Build On

The 2014 season was the 15th straight year that the Bills missed the playoffs but they did have a winning record for the first time in a decade. The offseason is in turmoil right now with many changes ahead. The new coach may alter our predictions drastically but for the 15th 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: Kyle Orton, EJ Manuel

It was another disappointing season for this group. The plug was pulled on Manuel after he led the team to a 2-2 start. He did not play again the rest of the year except for some garbage time minutes against the Jets. Orton came on and led the Bills to wins in three of his first four games making people believe he can lead the team to the playoffs. He struggled down the stretch and the team is once again searching for a quarterback.
Final Overall Grade C-: Way too inconsistent to lead the team to the playoffs.
Orton C-: Has retired from the NFL forcing the Bills to do what they should, look for another QB.
Manuel C-: Whoever the next head coach is must find a way to get the most out of the former first rounder since he likely will be the default starter next year.

Running Backs: Fred Jackson, Boobie Dixon, C.J. Spiller, Bryce Brown

There were high hopes for this unit because of the perceived depth at the position as the season started. It turned out to be the worst year in team history for this group. The team had their fewest rushing yards ever in a 16 game season and did not have a 100 yard rusher all season. Jackson led the team in rushing with a paltry 525 yards and had the team's high of 71 yards in a game. He did lead the team with 66 receptions. Spiller was a disappointment before missing a good portion of the season with a broken collarbone.
Final Overall Grade D: Better blocking will go a long way in helping this unit.
Jackson B-: Definitely slowing down but the heart and soul of this team. He has a year left on his contract and it is probably his last.
Dixon C+: Definitely should have a role next season.
Spiller F: Unless he picks up his player option expect him to be playing elsewhere next year.
Brown D: Likely replacement for Spiller next year but didn't do much when given the opportunity this year.

Receivers: Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Chris Hogan, Marquise Goodwin, Scott Chandler, Lee Smith, Chris Gragg, MarQuies Gray

Watkins may not have lived up to the hype of the trade up but he showed off his skills and led them to a few victories almost single handedly. He finished 18 yards shy of a 1,000 with very poor quarterback play. Woods and Watkins each caught 65 passes as Woods is developing into a decent number two receiver as he had 699 yards receiving. Hogan is an ok slant option while the tight end position may have found a diamond in the rough late in the season in Gray.
Final Overall Grade C: Very young but talented starting duo is something to build on.
Watkins B: Should continue his development into stardom next year.
Woods B: Looks to be a real good complement to Watkins for years to come.
Hogan C: Will likely have to fight for his starting job next year.
Goodwin F: Had only one catch will have to work hard to fit into the new coach's plans for next year.
Chandler C+: A decent but average tight end with poor blocking. An upgrade will be looked for once again in the offseason.
Smith C: Undrafted free agent who will likely not be brought back.
Gragg D: Showed little development in his second season and may not make the team next year depending on who else is brought in.
Gray A-: Should be given a long look in the offseason after promising play down the stretch after being brought in late in the season.

Offensive Line: Cordy Glenn, Erik Pears, Eric Wood, Kraig Urbik, Seantrel Henderson, Cyril Richardson, Cyrus Kouandjio, Chris Williams

This unit struggled mightily while using some rookies who were trying to develop while experiencing baptism by fire. They struggled opening up holes for the running game while the two quarterbacks were not able to stay too comfortable in the pocket. They gave up 39 sacks.
Final Overall Grade F: A major retooling of this group is needed.
Glenn D: Took a huge step back, may be better suited for guard after all.
Pears C-: Played better as the year went on after making the transition to guard. Will likely leave in free agency.
Wood C: A down year for the center but will be the guy manning the middle again in 2015.
Urbik C+: Marrone finally went to him reluctantly after all other options failed and he performed ok. New coach will likely give him a chance to make the team next year.
Henderson B-: Steadily improved during the season and should be back as the starting right tackle next year.
Richardson F: Was way over his head when he played. Will get a chance at a roster spot but there is a good chance he doesn't make next year's roster.
Kouandjio F: A 2nd round pick who couldn't see the field with this line. Hopefully the new coach will figure out how to get the most out of him.
Williams D: Struggled before the back injury shut him down. Will be looked at to start next year at guard if healthy.

Defensive Line: Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Jerry Hughes, Corbin Bryant, Stefan Charles, Jairus Wynn, Manny Lawson

This unit had another great season as three members of the unit are going to the Pro Bowl and the fourth is Hughes who finished with 10 sacks. Dareus is our player of the year as he led all defensive tackles with 10 sacks and Super Mario had a career high 14½ QB takedowns.
Final Overall Grade A+: The best defensive line in football.
Mario Williams A+: Had the best season of his stellar career. May have to play on the left side next year if Hughes doesn't come back.
Kyle Williams B: Was slowed with a knee injury and may have lost a step. He is the leader of the defense and will be back in the middle next year.
Dareus A+: He is a dominant player and looks to get paid with a huge extension this offseason.
Hughes A: Every effort will be made to keep him, good candidate for the franchise tag.
Bryant B: Played well in spot play, will be a valuable backup again next year.
Charles B+: Solid backup player allows the team to play in waves along the talented line.
Wynn A-: Did a fine job in spot play at tackle and end. Look for the Bills to re-sign him as he is an unrestricted free agent.
Lawson B-: Doesn't really fit in to this defense but played admirably. If the defense doesn't change, he may not be back.

Linebackers: Nigel Bradham, Preston Brown, Brandon Spikes, Keith Rivers

This unit took a huge blow when Kiko Alonso was lost for the season with a torn ACL before training camp but they hit lightning in a bottle for a second straight season as Brown really developed fast and took over as an every down backer early in the season. Bradham also came into his own while Spikes provided great run support and veteran leadership.
Final Overall Grade A: Surprisingly great season after huge blow over the summer.
Bradham A: Really developing nicely. Club reportedly working on a contract extension and that is a wise move for this developing star.
Brown A-: Really coming into his own and will be starting with Bradham and Alonso next year.
Spikes B: Likely no role for him with Alonso coming back. Will likely be allowed to leave in free agency.
Rivers C: Barely played down the stretch but should be back with the team as a backup next year.

Secondary: Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Corey Graham, Nickell Robey, Ron Brooks, Aaron Williams, Da'Norris Searcy, Duke Williams, Baccari Rambo

The secondary played solid football most of the year and got better as the season progressed culminating with a fantastic performance against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in a stunning December win. Gilmore continued his development into a shutdown corner while McKelvin rebounded from a slow start to be a solid cover corner before his season ended early with a broken ankle. Graham was a solid free agent addition who starred in a season opening shocker in Chicago and made plays whenever he got on the field. The safeties didn't miss a beat without the departed Jairus Byrd.
Final Overall Grade A: Benefited from the play up front but led the way to the third ranked pass defense in the NFL.
Gilmore A: Look for him to become that true lockdown corner next year.
McKelvin A-: Should be back in a starting role in 2015.
Graham A: Solid role player who should continue to excel in that role next year.
Robey C+: Will be back but they should bring in competition for the starting nickel job.
Brooks C-: May look for an upgrade here. Could be Ross Cockrell who barely played in his rookie season.
Aaron Williams B-: Play tailed off down the stretch but will be back leading the back of the defense next year.
Searcy B Solid starter who they will try to keep from leaving in free agency.
Duke Williams B Played well in limited play. Likely starter next year if Searcy leaves.
Rambo A Very limited playing time but one amazing game against Green Bay. Will get a longer look in training camp.

Special Teams: Dan Carpenter, Colton Schmidt, Jordan Gay, Leodis McKelvin, Marcus Thigpen, Garrison Sanborn

What a turnaround for Danny Crossman's unit. He was being run out of town after a dismal year in 2013 only to see the entire unit shine in 2014. From Carpenter's game winning 58 yard kick in Detroit to Spiller's 102 yard kickoff return against Miami to Boobie Dixon blocking two punts, the Bills special teams made big plays.
Final Overall Grade A: This unit was purely special.
Carpenter A+: He beat is record tying season of 2013 with 34 field goals in 2014. Will continue the Bills string of having long time kickers next year.
Schmidt B: Did really well early after being brought in just before the start of the season after San Francisco waived him. Tailed off down the stretch but will be back, although competition may be brought in.
Gay C: Didn't do enough as a kickoff specialist to warrant a roster spot next year.
McKelvin C: Was just an average returner, they will look elsewhere next year for a punt returner.
Thigpen A: They found next year's kick returner late in the season with this pickup.
Coverage Teams A: Gave up no scores allowing mostly pedestrian returns.
Sanborn B: Still a solid long snapper although he had a few more offline snaps than usual this year. May bring in competition next year.

Coaching: Doug Marrone, Nathaniel Hackett, Jim Schwartz, Danny Crossman

Marrone got this team to their first winning season in 10 years and deserves some of the credit for that. I give more credit to Jim Schwartz's defense which Marrone admittedly didn't pay that much attention to. Marrone is an offensive line guru who saw his favorite unit fail. His overly conservative game calling was maddening. Crossman had the special teams playing real well all season long.
Final Overall Grade B: Continuity takes a blow as Marrone quits.
Marrone C+: Could have stayed but was greedy. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Hackett C-: Offense was bad but Marrone may have handcuffed him. Almost certainly gone with new coach coming in.
Schwartz A: Everyone was worried when Pettine left but they didn't miss a beat under Schwartz. He should be back in the same position with the new head coach unless of course he is the new head coach.
Crossman A: Amazing turnaround after people were calling for his head after last season. Now everyone would love him to stay.

Print Friendly Version
 
2014 Buffalo Bills
Record: (9-7) Division: (4-2)
vs AFC: (5-7) vs NFC: (4-0)
Home: (5-3) Road: (4-4)
Place: 2nd

Team Rankings: Final
Total Offense: 26th
Passing: 18th
Rushing: 25th
Total Defense: 4th
Passing: 3rd
Rushing: 11th

Post Season Awards
Player Of The Year
Marcell Dareus - He was the main cog in a spectacular defense. He constantly clogged up the middle of the defense taking up double teams to allow the rest of the line to get a lot of sacks. He got into the act by leading all defensive tackles with 10 sacks.

Offensive MVP
Sammy Watkins - Despite the fact that he was inconsistent and banged up, he was still the best player on the offensive side of the ball this season. Leading the team to at least two or three wins and coming 18 yards shy of a 1,000 yard season on 65 catches.

Defensive MVP
Mario Williams - Had the best run stuffing year of his career to go along with a career high 14½ sacks.

Special Teams MVP
Dan Carpenter - Wins this award for a second straight season. Broke his club record with 34 field goals on 38 attempts.

Rookie Of The Year
Preston Brown - Since Watkins gets our Offensive MVP we will give this award to Brown. The 3rd round pick played much more than expected with Kiko Alonso out all year and was very efficient. He led the team with 109 tackles.

Unsung Hero
Nigel Bradham - He also picked up some of the slack for not having Alonso. He finished second with 104 tackles and added 2½ sacks.

The Bills are now...
23-37 in December since 2000
3-13 in primetime since 2001.
97-143 since 2000.
29-51 in the 2nd half of the year since 2005.
53-59 in home games since 2001.
9-23 in road games since 2011.
13-34 in road divison games since 2000.
6-14 in their last 20 road games.
4-11 in their last 15 road divison games.
20-14 in OT.
8-19-1 when allowing a safety.
33-78 against team's with a winning record since 2000.
30-56 against the AFC East since 2001.
13-29 against the AFC East since 2008.
11-13 when they have a punt return TD.
29-10 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.
12-3 when Fred Jackson runs for 100 yards.

Did you know...
The Bills Defense gave up 289 points, the least amount by the club since 2004.
The Bills Running Game had only 1,482 yards rushing a new 16 game season franchise low.
The Bills Defense led the league with 54 sacks three shy of the club record set last year.
The Bills had four wins in the division for first time since 2007 and four road wins for the first time since 2008.
The Bills finish above .500 for the first time since 2004.
Robert Woods has 105 receptions in his first two seasons that ties a club record.
Mario Williams finished the season with a career high 14½ sacks.
Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins are the first duo in NFL history to have 60+ receptions in a season before their 23rd birthday.
Dan Carpenter broke a club record for most field goals in a season with 34 (in 38 attempts).
The Bills Receivers have three players with 60+ receptions for the first time in team history.
The Bills will go through a season where they have never been below .500 for the first time since 1996.
The Bills swept in NFC team for the first time since 2004.
The Bills Receivers have six 100 yard receiving games, the most for the team since 2002.
Dan Carpenter is the first Bills with back to back 100 point seasons since Rian Lindell in 2008 and 2009.
Kyle Williams has 34 career sacks moving him into 9th place on the team's all time list, 1st among interior linemen.
Fred Jackson is third in NFL history for most career yards rushing by an undrafted free agent.
Sammy Watkins is the first Bills rookie to have four 100 yard receiving games in a season. First Bill overall since Lee Evans in 2008.
Sammy Watkins broke the club's rookie receiving yards record a week after breaking the rookie completion record.
Marcell Dareus led all defensive tackles with 10 sacks.
C.J. Spiller is now in 8th place on the team's all time rushing list.
Robert Woods has at least one catch in 30 consecutive games.
Fred Jackson set a single season personal high in receiving yards.
Fred Jackson is the 5th Bill to accumulate 8,000 yards from scrimmage in his Bills career.
Fred Jackson is in 2nd place on the all-time team list for receptions from a RB; 5th overall.
Fred Jackson is 4th on the all-time team list with 30 rushing TDs. His next rushing TD will move him into a tie with Cookie Gilchrist for 3rd place.

 2014 Results
Click on the final score for Bills Daily review/analysis of the game.
Sept. 7@ Chicago W 23-20 OT
Sept. 14Miami W 29-10
Sept. 21San Diego L 22-10
Sept. 28@ Houston L 23-17
Oct. 5@ Detroit W 17-14
Oct. 12New England L 37-22
Oct. 19Minnesota W 17-16
Oct. 26@ NY Jets W 43-23
Nov. 2Bye
Nov. 9Kansas City L 17-13
Nov. 13@ Miami L 22-9
Nov. 24NY Jets W 38-3
Nov. 30Cleveland W 26-10
Dec. 7@ Denver L 24-17
Dec. 14Green Bay W 21-13
Dec. 21@ Oakland L 26-24
Dec. 28@ New England W 17-9

 

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