by Mario "Game" Granata
As the sun sets on November 14th in the 716, the Buffalo Bills, just 5 days ago were in place to do something that they haven’t done in 14 years…make a playoff run. Standing at 5-3, the Bills looked to have things in place coming off their bye week. After all the injuries, and a quarterback that wasn’t on the team during camp, a Jim Schwartz led defense has been dominant enough to keep the Bills in games until the offense found their way. However, the powers at be wouldn’t allow that to happen as the Bills now face an uphill climb and a 5-5 record.
Kyle Orton Impersonation – It was said in the final installment of the Rocky movies that, “If you stand in one place long enough, you become that place.” Well, Kyle Orton has been fed the verbiage from Nathaniel Hackett for 2 months, and during the game against the Miami Dolphins, turned into EJ Manuel. Completing 22 of 39 passes for a meager 193 yards, the Kyle Orton that the Bills saw throw for an average of 277 yards seems to be a distant memory, lost in the shrouds of a Nathaniel Hackett offensive game plan. To his credit, Orton has not thrown an interception in 122 attempts, but the high percentage of passes to the running backs, and the misses on the deep throws remind many of the Buffalo faithful of EJ Manuel. Unless some drastic measures are taken, the Bills offense will continue to be on the downswing.
Off the Line – With the pressure that the Bills front four have been able to generate, it seemed to be apparent that Ryan Tannehill would try to get the ball out of his hand quickly to avoid the Buffalo pressure, and get the ball out of his hand he did. Which begs the question, why was the Bills secondary playing 7 yards or more deep on the Dolphins receivers? The Bills defenders started to play tighter in the 4th quarter, but by then the damage had been done. Add in the fact that Leodis McKelvin is now lost, which will put Corey Graham in as the #2 corner, what does this say about the defensive game plan for Schwartz? Many people have been questioning why he hasn’t been in from the start, and if he plays poorly, Bills fans will know why, but if he is able to make some plays, Bills will sit back and wonder what Schwartz was waiting for.
On the Line – If one is talking about the offensive line of the Bills, or the stat line for the game, the absence of Chris Williams is one that cannot be ignored, and with the switch from Richardson to Urbik there have been holes along the line, and not ones that Bryce Brown or Boobie Dixon can run through. If fans think back, Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t the most athletically gifted passer in the league, but his ability to call protections at the line and get out of bad plays, and into manageable ones, was a facet that this team is missing. Orton, although a veteran, has played some good football, but against two of the top defenses in the league (Kansas City, Miami) he has looked like a journeyman. Unless the Bills vary up their play calling, and give defenses different looks, Bills fans are in for more of the same every Sunday for the rest of the season.
Now, people will talk about the penalties, which have been the Achilles heel for this team, or the fact that they lost Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller, or switching the quarterback duties to a guy who was on the couch before week 1, there is plenty of blame to go around for the Bills. The past two games, the Bills were winning at the half, and the second half adjustments from the coaching staff have fallen flat, so what is next for the Buffalo Bills? Watching this team is like watching the 2000 Baltimore Ravens Offense and the 2007 New York Giants Defense. The Bills have a playoff caliber defense, which is asked to do too much at times this season. Bills fans have a lot to worry about in the upcoming months, but none more worrisome than trying to get the front four of the defense locked up for the foreseeable future. Pegula has his work cut out for him, and his first order of business is to keep Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus and Jerry Hughes together, because if he doesn’t, 2015 will be another year of futility for the Buffalo Bills.