In an ugly game that some fans couldn’t tell which team was which (sorry, colorblind football fans, but all you really missed was just another ugly Thurday night game), the Buffalo Bills grounded the New York Jets, 22-17. For more on that game, check out the observations here on BLTD.
Here are the grades for the Bills in this game:
- Passing Offense: This is the first time where QB Tyrod Taylor was possibly less than average. Taylor struggled throughout, mostly due to heavy blitzing from a talented Jets front seven. However, Taylor still made some big plays, most notably the touchdown to RB Karlos Williams and the crucial 3rd down where WR Sammy Watkins fought off Jets CB Darrelle Revis for a pivotal first down. However, in between those moments, the Bills were not as effective. WR Robert Woods only had 3 catches, not winning matchups as often as he normally does against the Jets. In the end, they did enough against a tough pass defense, but they still need to improve on that effort. GRADE: C
- Running Offense: Wow. When RBs LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams are healthy, it’s a sweet thing to watch. Even against a very good Jets defense, McCoy took over at times and helped Buffalo get down the field. McCoy is the central piece of the Bills’ offense, and has validated the trading of former Bills LB Kiko Alonso to acquire him. McCoy is dangerous to other people’s ankles when he puts the jukes on, but is also displaying more patience as well. Now that is scary. GRADE: A
- Passing Defense: The lack of sacks for Buffalo has been a topic of hot take enthusiasts around the nation. Even I have questioned the defense’s performance at times. However, one thing cannot be questioned at this point: CBs Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby form the best tandem in the NFL. Buffalo did bend quite a bit on defense, but made up for it by shutting down the Jets when it mattered most. They did catch some breaks from Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who missed on several deep passes, and well as Jets WRs Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, who dropped a couple of passes, including Decker’s 3rd down drop late in the game. The struggles of CB Nickell Robey are mildly troubling, however. Overall, a better performance by the defense here. GRADE: B+
- Running Defense: Jets RB Chris Ivory had struggled through his last three games, gaining just 84 yards combined. Buffalo allowed him to get back on track, letting Ivory power for 99 yards. Buffalo continues to allow big plays via the running game, and the regression of LB Nigel Bradham has been especially troubling, he doesn’t fit Rex Ryan’s scheme at all. If not for Buffalo’s 19-point lead, the game would’ve called for a healthy dose of do-whatever-I-want from Chris Ivory. GRADE: C+
- Special Teams: Oh my gosh, the Bills did something good on special teams!!! Week in and week out, this grade has always been below average. And it shall remain that way, despite the fumble returned for a touchdown. Duke Williams’ touchdown from Baccari Rambo’s forced fumble masked some bad special teams play. Buffalo had several holding calls that altered field position, Leodis McKelvin missed a fair catch and created bad field position, punter Colton Schmidt botched a snap that nearly spelled doom for the Bills and kicker Dan Carpenter missed a PAT try. Yikes, this unit has been in trouble often. They need to start making good plays for this Buffalo team, or it could cost special teams coordinator Danny Crossman his job. GRADE: C-
- Coaching: Ryan made sure to put all of the attention on him this week, and allow his players to just play. Ryan did a nice job of mixing coverages on Fitzpatrick. He did allow the 6’3″ WR in Decker to continue to wreck havoc on 5’7″ Nickell Robey, however. Greg Roman mixed some good calls with some head scratchers. But Ryan got his team together when it looked like the “same old Bills” disaster was waiting to strike. I can’t take that away from him. GRADE: B-
Keep it here on Better Live Than Dead for more on your Buffalo Bills!