Grading the Bills: Week 5

tyrod titans

In a game that was far from pretty, the Buffalo Bills won a tight contest against the Tennessee Titans, 14-13. Buffalo improved to 3-2 on the year, despite a lousy first half and being out-gained 276-209 for the entire game.

Here are the grades for each unit:

    • Passing Offense: Well, it wasn’t pretty. QB Tyrod Taylor was often under duress in the first half, being taken down for 4 sacks in the game. The pressure accounted for Taylor being off-target during the first half, missing several throws he has proven to make consistently. However, like last week, Taylor found a way around the issues and cleaned up his game. Taylor would throw a pair of important strikes to WR Chris Hogan, a 46 yard bomb and a 2 yard touchdown. Taylor seems to land at least one deep ball in each game. Pass protection cleaned up after 3 quarters, allowing Taylor to conjure some late game magic. Few attempts and only 107 yards do play a factor here, as does the fact that several of Taylor’s big runs were initially called as passing plays. GRADE: C+
    • Running Offense: Taylor aside, the Bills didn’t do much in the running game against Tennessee. Newly-signed RB Daniel Herron was average, and the Bills really need to stop handing RB Anthony “Boobie” Dixon the football. Dixon has 19 yards on 15 carries for the season, and he is merely a one trick pony. Teams know where the ball is going when Dixon is in, right up the middle. Dixon is not a good runner, his value is on special teams. Honestly, call him a gloried fullback at this point. This team misses RB LeSean McCoy’s explosive presence and RB Karlos Williams’ versatility. Blocking wasn’t a huge issue, the lack of talent was. Taylor was a saving grace here, with 76 rushing yards. Kudos to WR Robert Woods with an epic block on Taylor’s rushing touchdown. GRADE: C+
    • Passing Defense: What a gem by the Bills pass defense. Buffalo had gotten pressure, solid corner play (again) and allowed no real daggers to the Titans in this game. DE Mario Williams was everywhere, mostly in Titans QB Marcus Mariota’s face. CB Ronald Darby wasn’t picked on often, but he made several nice plays. And then there was CB Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore had an iffy pass interference call where even Titans WR Kendall Wright was shaking his head at the call. Gilmore had several pass defenses, as well as the game-sealing interception with less than 2 minutes left in the game. GRADE: A
    • Running Defense: It’s not too hard to halt the Titans’ rushing attack when their lead RBs are Bishop Sankey, Antonio Andrews and Dexter McCluster. Mariota was the leading rusher with 47 yards. Buffalo got steady penetration from DT Kyle Williams, and LB Manny Lawson was fantastic at setting the edge in this game. Forcing Tennessee into more reliance on the arm of a rookie QB is a solid blueprint to winning a game. Buffalo did just that. GRADE: A-
    • Special Teams: You knew it would be a rough day on special teams when WR Marcus Easley was flagged for being offside on the opening kickoff, negating what would be a fumble by Sankey and recovered by Buffalo. Chalk that up to the Bills being used to now-free agent kickoff specialist Jordan Gay. New kickoff specialist Billy Cundiff forced no touchbacks in his three kickoffs. New WR Denarius Moore fumbled on a punt return that would result in Tennesse scoring their lone touchdown on a shortened field. Add in more penalties during returns, and special teams were far from special on this day… GRADE: F
    • Coaching: It’s never easy to win on the road. Head coach Rex Ryan wanted his team to clean up the penalties, and for at least a week, they did. Buffalo was never out of this game, and Ryan’s defense stepped up big time. Once the Bills gained their composure on offense, it was a new team in the second half. Yes, bad teams lose games they had in the bag, and Tennessee had the Bills down early. Good teams can also grind out wins, which Buffalo did. However, we are no closer to finding out what this Bills team is yet. But for now, Buffalo is 3-2, with another test coming up. Good for Buffalo to finish this game off, as a loss would’ve sparked more questions than merely “What is this team?” GRADE: B

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Written by Derek Kramer

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