Monday Bills Musings for Week 8

Field position played a big role in Buffalo's victory over the Jets. See how average drive start helped the Bills defeat their AFC East foe.

Field Position Factors into Victory

The Buffalo Bills benefited from six turnovers on Sunday. That alone is one big reason that the Bills defeated the New York Jets 43-23. The other reason? Starting field position.

Buffalo’s average drive start was their own 49 yard line. Take a look at Buffalo’s average drive starts:

BUF 36, NYJ 48, 50, NYJ 1, BUF 8, BUF 32, NYJ 31, BUF 20, BUF 20, NYJ 27, NYJ 44, NYJ 10, NYJ 14, BUF 29, BUF 5

The Jets meanwhile had an average drive start at their own 19 yard line.

A 30 yard difference in average drive start certainly helped the Bills put away the Jets.

Watkins’ Jump in Production with Orton

Minus a trip to Revis Island, Sammy Watkins is playing outstanding football. Watkins has Kyle Orton to thank for his recent success. Here’s a look at Watkins’ first four weeks with E.J. Manuel and his last four weeks with Kyle Orton:

Week 1-4 (Manuel): 32 targets, 17 receptions, 197 yards, 2 touchdowns

Week 5-8 (Orton): 35 targets, 21 receptions, 393 yards, 3 touchdowns

To be fair to Manuel, Watkins dealt with a rib injury in his first four weeks and you could argue that he needed to adjust to the speed of the pro game. The targets are rather similar, but Orton is completing his passes to Watkins at a higher percentage. The yardage is what really jumps off the page. Watkins is averaging 98.25 yards per game with Orton, as opposed to 49.25 yards per game with Manuel.

If Orton and Watkins were able to keep up this pace, the rookie wideout would be in line for 42 receptions, 786 yards and six touchdowns over the final eight games. That’d give him a final stat line of 80 receptions for 1,376 yards and 11 touchdowns.

It’s easier said than done, but certainly a possibility as Watkins and Orton continue to develop chemistry.

Random Musings

-Kraig Urbik started his first game of the season at left guard. Against a tough Jets defensive line, Urbik only allowed one quarterback hurry according to Pro Football Focus (Subscription Required). We may never know why Doug Marrone was opposed to starting Urbik, but he certainly improved the overall effectiveness of the offensive line on Sunday.

-Buffalo’s run, run, pass offense was very predictable on Sunday. Is Nathaniel Hackett to blame? Perhaps. The likelier story is that the Bills saw that the Jets were struggling to move the ball in the second half and they felt confident in playing conservative. It worked on Sunday, but Buffalo needs to show some creativity following the bye when they face the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bills had too many three-and-out series on Sunday and benefited from the Jets’ turnovers and anemic offense.

-Buffalo’s defensive ends are deep. Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes are certainly a top duo in the league. Behind them, Manny Lawson and Jarius Wynn have played outstanding football. The Bills been able to rotate their defensive ends successfully in the first half of the season. This has kept Hughes and Williams fresh and is a big reason why they’re having such outstanding seasons.

-Is there a changing of the guard at tight end? Chris Gragg saw the most snaps among all tight ends against the Jets. Scott Chandler and Lee Smith had more success in terms of stats on Sunday, but Gragg is certainly getting an opportunity to move up the depth chart.

-Should the Bills part ways with Jordan Gay? Early in the season, Buffalo’s kickoff specialist did a good job of kicking the ball out of the end zone. In the last two weeks, he’s struggled. Some kicks against the Jets were certainly deep in the end zone, but he still gave the Jets and Vikings an opportunity to make a big play on special teams. If the Bills need to open up a roster spot, Gay is the likeliest to lose his job. 

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