Week 11 Bills Positional Grades

The Buffalo Bills weren't ready for prime-time. The Miami Dolphins outplayed the Bills and defeated them 22-9. The loss moved the Bills to 5-5 and left fans with plenty of questions about the team moving forward.

The Buffalo Bills aren’t completely out of the playoff race, but their chances of making the postseason took quite a hit in Week 11. After falling to the Miami Dolphins 22-9, the Bills find themselves in 12th place in the AFC. They’ll need quite a run to end their playoff drought and much better play, especially from the offense.

Quarterback: D

Kyle Orton didn’t look right for most of Thursday’s game against the Miami Dolphins. One big reason he struggled was due to Miami’s terrific pass rush in the second half. Another reason apparently is a toe injury of some sort. The quarterback’s passes were off for a good portion of the night and he got away with a few throws that should have gone for interceptions.

Orton completed 22/39 passes for 193 yards. He’s regressed quite a bit in the last two weeks and his 56 percent completion rate is worrisome. It’s something the Bills have to keep an eye on as they approach the end of the season. If Orton’s woes continue, the Bills should give the job back to E.J. Manuel. If their season is lost, giving Manuel a chance to prove he’s learned from the sidelines is what’s best for the team.

Running Backs: C-

The Bills only ran 17 planned run plays all night. Their lopsided play calling never gave the team’s backs a chance to get into a groove. Anthony Dixon rushed the ball 10 times for 35 yards (3.5 YPC) and Bryce Brown added six carries for 14 yards (2.33 YPC). Sammy Watkins also had one run for three yards. Orton’s two carries were scrambles that resulted in two yards.

It wasn’t a good evening for the backs in primetime from a rushing standpoint, but Brown did show that he’s a valuable receiver. The back caught seven passes for 57 yards and led the team in targets with 10. He’s done a nice job in C.J. Spiller’s place and hasn’t given the team any reason to feel like they need to re-sign Spiller. Dixon also contributed as a receiver with two receptions for 13 yards.

Wide Receivers: D

Chris Hogan led the Bills in receiving against Miami. The former Dolphin caught seven passes for 74 yards. He’s come on as a reliable receiver for the team. Sammy Watkins was ineffective for the second straight week. The rookie receiver caught three passes for 32 yards on seven targets. The only other receiver to catch a pass was Robert Woods. He caught two passes for 15 yards. It wasn’t a good evening for Buffalo receivers.

Tight Ends: F

One reception for two yards. Chris Gragg gained minimal yards on his one target and Scott Chandler didn’t have any receptions on three targets. The Bills need to upgrade the position in free agency this year.

Offensive Line: C-

Buffalo only gave up two sacks during the game, but Miami’s pressure was extremely successful in the second half of the game. Besides the two sacks, Buffalo’s offensive line was responsible for allowing three quarterback hits and 13 quarterback hurries. Miami’s pressure was extremely successful and even led to a safety on a (questionable) intentional grounding call. In all, it was a bad night for the Bills offensive line.

Defensive Line: A-

The defensive line was outstanding for Buffalo on Thursday Night Football. They accounted for five sacks, three quarterback hits and 17 quarterback hurries. Mario Williams accounted for 3.5 sacks, Stefan Charles had one sack and Corbin Bryant added 0.5 sack. Williams completely overwhelmed Dallas Thomas all night and was a one man wrecking crew. Jerry Hughes accounted for four quarterback hurries and Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams added five hurries.

Their results weren’t as strong in the run game. Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas were each able to run the ball successfully in primetime. That said, the unit’s pressure helped keep the team in the game. Without the defensive line, the game could have been even uglier.

Linebackers: B-

The linebackers took a step back on Thursday Night Football. This unit struggled in run support as well as pass coverage. Miami rushed for 125 yards on 24 carries (5.2 YPC). In coverage, the group also struggled. Nigel Bradham gave up seven receptions on nine targets for 65 yards and Preston Brown gave up three receptions for 33 yards as well.

The unit will look to bounce back against the New York Jets.

Secondary: C

Leodis McKelvin talked the talk before the game, guaranteeing victory. He couldn’t follow through on his guarantee after fracturing his ankle. He gave up two receptions for 11 yards in his 19 snaps.

Stephon Gilmore played 69 snaps and was only thrown at twice. He was credited with giving up 14 yards on the receptions and a touchdown. Gilmore was also called for a pass interference penalty, but he played the pass perfectly. It was simply a bad call.

Of Buffalo’s six missed tackles, five came from the secondary. McKelvin was credited with two, Nickell Robey was credited with two and Aaron Williams also had one. Da’Norris Searcy could have been credited with one as well for whiffing on Ryan Tannehill at one point.

With McKelvin out for the year, the Bills will need guys like Corey Graham and Nickell Robey to step up. Safety play also needs more consistency starting this week.

Special Teams: C

All of Buffalo’s points came from Dan Carpenter field goals. He did miss one kick, but you aren’t going to win many games with just 12 points so it’s a moot point.

Colton Schmidt didn’t punt well against the Dolphins. He averaged 37 yards on his two punts. He’s been a bright spot throughout the year, so one bad game isn’t the end of the world.

In the return game, Bryce Brown did well on kick returns, averaging 25 yards per return. His long was 32 yards. Just like when he rushes the ball, Brown needs to work on protecting the football more. He carries it away from his body and is just asking for someone to strip him of the ball. Robert Woods had one punt return that went for 11 yards.

How would you grade Buffalo’s positional units based upon their play in Week 11? Let’s discuss it in the forums!


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