by Mario "Game" Granata
Celebrating the 43-23 victory over the Division rival New York Jets the Bills fans were still a little displeased with the offensive production from the offense on Sunday. Now, when a team puts up 43 points, one will scratch their head as to why a fan base would be upset with the production, but taking a closer look at the numbers, there is still some room for improvement. Here are some points you can take to your friends if they are in for a debate.
The Good News:
Kyle Orton – Now, when a quarterback only throws 17 passes in a game, you might think that he was on the losing end of the contest. However, 4 of the 10 completions that Orton had went for scores, and to 4 different receivers. The most impressive touchdown coming after Orton was split in half on a Jets blitz early in the 1st quarter. Orton showed some grit, and was able to manage the game. However, don’t expect Orton to throw 17 passes in a game and have the Bills be victorious every week.
Sammy Watkins – Playing like the 4th overall pick, Sammy Watkins put on a clinic (while only catching 3 passes). Although his one catch brought back memories to Leon Lett, which will no doubt be highlighted on Sunday NFL Countdown’s ‘C’mon Man’ segment, Watkins showed the explosiveness and speed that made him so successful at Clemson. Watkins stat line (38-590-5) makes him a leading candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year it seems, and if he keeps on this pace, he will make the Bills brass look like the smartest at the 2014 Draft. Nice job, Whaley.
Turnovers – There is much to be made about a team that causes 6 turnovers in a game (4 int, 2 fum) and the one thing that came out of the game was that Jim Schwartz had his team ready to play. They philosophy of Schwartz is to line his guys up and be play makers, and make plays they did. Causing Geno Smith to throw 3 interceptions (and complete more passes to the Bills than his own team) eventually getting him benched for the veteran Michael Vick. During the season the Bills have injured a key number of players (Bears offensive lineman, Knowshon Moreno, Danny Woodhead, and Stevan Ridley) and while they didn’t severly injure anyone on the Jets, they might have ended Geno Smith’s career. Grab a clipboard kid.
The Bad News:
The Buffalo Bills built a commanding 21-7 lead with just over 40 minutes to go in the game, and only managed to muster 125 yards offensively for the rest of the game. At one point with 36 minutes to go in the game, the Bills held a 24-7 lead, which means that for the rest of the game they outscored the Jets 19-16. A bit closer margin then the final score would indicate. The ‘vanilla’ play calling from Hackett led to many missed opportunities, and if the Jets offense wasn’t as inept, the game might have taken a different turn.
The Bills were up 24-17 at the half, which begs the question of what the Bills were doing when they held a 24-14 lead just before the half. With 1:50 to go, and all their timeouts the Bills decided to play it conservative which led to the Jets scoring a late field goal. This marks the third game in a row that the Bills surrendered points before the half. Momentum is big in this league, and to give a team momentum, especially at home is very dangerous. If the Jets offense had any clue, the game might have turned out differently.
Taking a closer look at the production of the Bills, there are some more questions about their offense. Case in point:
On 3 of Dan Carpenter’s field goals, the Bills on those three drives managed 5 yards, when they had an average drive start of the Jets 23 yard line. In this league, when you have an opponent down, you step on their throat, you don’t help them up, and getting 3 points each time when you have possession just outside the opponents red zone will kill games.
The first 5 drives of the game, the Bills average starting field position was the Jets 49 yard line, and they scored 21 points. The final 10 drives of the game, they started again at the Jets 49 yard line, and managed 22 points. They forced 3 turnovers in the first 5 drives, and 3 in the final 10. For all intensive purposes, the Bills should have dropped 60, not 43.
Minus the 3 long scoring drives that led to 21 points and the final drive of the game that ran out the clock, the Bills averaged 9.6 yards per drive in the other 11 drives, which begs the question, what were they calling? There has to be more creativity out of Hackett, and 6 turnover games don’t come along very often, so the Bills have to capitalize when they have the chance. Playing not to lose is not the same as playing to win.
The Bills managed 19 points on 6 turnovers. If the Bills happen to get 6 turnovers against Manning, Rodgers or Brady, and they only score 19 points, they still might lose by 20 to those teams. Open up the playbook, and stop running plays out of Tecmo Super Bowl. You have play makers all over the offense…use them.