September 25, 2012 Leave a comment
The Bills won their first road game in over a calendar year on Sunday when they defeated the Browns in Cleveland by a score of 24-14. The victory may have come with a price however as running back C.J. Spiller appeared to suffer a shoulder injury in the game. While Spiller’s injury doesn’t seem to be as bad as it originally appeared to be, the Bills may have to play a crucial division game against the Patriots this week without him. Here are some thoughts on the game on Sunday:
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been a different quarterback since the Cromartie interception. Fitzpatrick capped off a nightmare day against the Jets in week 1 with an interception to open the 3rd quarter that Jets CB Antonio Cromartie returned for a touchdown. He’s been a changed man since that play. Fitzpatrick was a workman-like 22 of 35 for 208 yards and 3 TDs on Sunday. Fitzpatrick has thrown 8 touchdowns without an interception since that Cromartie pick. He’s also only been sacked once and he wasn’t even touched on the play. He lost the ball in the rain and fumbled which qualifies as an official sack. A team that’s built to produce in the trenches simply needs a game manager at quarterback and Fitzpatrick has been exactly that over the last two games.
- The Bills offensive line is very, very good. Obviously C.J. Spiller is a special talent and nobody works as hard as Fred Jackson. But even when both of those guys were lost Tashard Choice stepped up and ran for 91 yards on 21 carries. Choice isn’t the home run hitter that Spiller and Jackson are but the line gave him a hole pretty much every time that he touched the ball to generate a solid 4 or 5 yards on every carry. As I mentioned earlier the line technically didn’t give up a sack again either. Cordy Glenn has been a revelation at left tackle.
The Bills receiving corps is a work in progress but it’s getting better. Stevie Johnson had his best game of the year thus far with 61 yards and a touchdown on 7 catches. Rookie T.J. Graham had the most productive day of his young career with 3 catches for 24 yards and his 1st career touchdown. Donald Jones bounced back from being in the red last week with 5 catches for 42 yards. The unit as a whole isn’t very deep without primary slot man David Nelson but this unit will have to do at least until Spiller and Jackson are back healthy. These guys did their jobs on Sunday.
- Mario Williams is quelling those early concerns by the week. A huge red flag went up when big ticket free agent Mario Williams was basically a no-show against the Jets on opening day. Williams got more involved last week against the Chiefs with some pressure and a fumble recovery. This week he finally got on the board with a sack and a half. Williams has put some pretty consistent pressure over the past few weeks and is starting to look comfortable in the Bills defense. Maybe he wasn’t such a waste of money after all.
- Kyle Williams is back to form. During the off-season Kyle Williams said that he was feeling the best he had since he was playing at L.S.U. That certainly seemed like hyperbole at the time but Williams has looked like the Pro Bowl player he was in 2010 before he lost most of 2011 to injury. Williams is showing that explosive first step that has made him so difficult to block early in his career. He has already recorded 3 sacks from the inside so far this season.
The linebackers had their best game of the season on Sunday. Nick Barnett, Arthur Moats and Kelvin Sheppard were all active in the run game on Sunday. They took advantage of the lack of options that the line was giving the Browns running backs and didn’t let them get to the outside. All of these guys are playing a new position in the Bills revamped 4-3 defense and it looks like they are getting more comfortable.
- Chan Gailey has had two good weeks of excellent play-calling. Gailey has been out-coaching his defensive counterpart over the past two weeks and it’s paid dividends for the Bills, particularly at a time when their depth is weak at the skill positions. It must have been especially sweet for Bills fans to see Gailey run circles around Browns defensive coordinator and former Bills head coach Dick Jauron early in the game on Sunday. Gailey will have to pull another rabbit out of his hat this week in New England.
This week’s game against the Patriots is obviously a huge game that will determine just how much of a contender the Bills really are. This is not a prediction by any means but I wouldn’t be surprised to see both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller out there. All news has been optimistic for Fred Jackson over the past few weeks so I expect at least he will be in the lineup. I expect it to be a raucous crowd at Ralph Wilson Stadium. I’ll be there myself in what should be quite the atmosphere in Orchard Park.