Buffalo Bills Week 13 Positional Grades

The Buffalo Bills weren't great on Sunday, but they did enough to defeat the Cleveland Browns 26-10. Buffalo's defense carried the load as the Bills moved to 7-5.

The Buffalo Bills are 7-5 as they enter the final quarter of the season. Buffalo is on a two game win streak after starting their third quarter of the season with losses to the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins. To keep their playoff hopes alive, the Bills will have to improve significantly on the offensive side of the ball with the Broncos, Packers, Raiders and Patriots on the horizon. Here’s a look at how the Bills positional units fared against the Cleveland Browns.

Quarterback: C-

Kyle Orton should feel very thankful for the Bills defense. Without them, Buffalo wouldn’t be 7-5. Orton is struggling quite a bit on the field, but he’s still a better option than E.J. Manuel at this time. The quarterback had a day to forget on Sunday going 17-of-31 for 190 yards. He threw one touchdown pass and two interceptions. In the first half, Orton threw a brutal interception in the end zone. The quarterback stared down Sammy Watkins and tried to squeeze in a tight pass. Orton didn’t see Jim Leonhard running to his left and he jumped the route. Later in the game, Orton threw another interception to Joe Haden. There were plenty of negatives on Sunday, but Orton did some positive things as well.

 In the third quarter, Orton found Robert Woods deep on 4th and 2. On the following play, he connected with Chris Hogan for a three yard gain. He also connected with tight end MarQueis Gray on passes of 41 of 30 yards. Orton needs to improve significantly over the final four games of the season if Buffalo wants any chance of making the playoffs.

Running Backs: B

Fred Jackson led the way on Sunday with 70 yards on 21 carries. He added 27 yards on three receptions. Jackson still doesn’t look 100 percent, but he’s getting close. Ninety-seven total yards on Sunday is a good outing.

Anthony Dixon added another 25 yards on six carries and Bryce Brown had 11 yards on three rushes. The unit went over 100 yards on the ground, but averaged 3.5 yards per carry. This was partially due to the fact that the Bills were running out the clock late in the game. That said, the Browns run defense was ranked 29th entering the game, so the YPC average is a bit disappointing.

Wide Receivers: C

Robert Woods was the best receiver on the field for the Bills on Sunday. He caught four passes for 71 yards during the game. His biggest reception was a 34 yard catch on 4th and 2 that put the Bills on the Browns three yard line. The next play was a three yard touchdown reception for Chris Hogan. The receiver finished with two receptions for eight yards. He had the team’s only touchdown reception, but was rather quiet on Sunday.

Sammy Watkins had another quiet game against the Browns. He finished with three receptions for 11 yards on nine targets. It was mentioned today that he’s battling a hip injury, but Watkins needs to step his play up in the final four games of the season.


Tight Ends: C+

MarQueis Gray made the most of his first game with the Bills. The athletic tight end caught two passes for 71 yards. He showed good hands and awareness on Sunday. Gray saw 29 snaps in his first action of the season. Lee Smith also saw 29 snaps on offense, but he didn’t record any receptions Scott Chandler was also quiet with three receptions going for two yards. Gray elevated this unit singlehandedly.


Offensive Line: B+

Buffalo’s offensive line has improved significantly in pass protection Against the Browns, the unit only gave up one sack and two quarterback hurries all game. Orton had plenty of time to pass on Sunday thanks to Buffalo’s linemen. The group still struggles in run blocking and screen blocking, but there were encouraging signs on Sunday. Buffalo rushed for over 100 yards on the ground Sunday and Fred Jackson gained 20 yards on a screen pass.

Offensive line needs to be addressed in the offseason by the team.

Defensive Line: A+

Jerry Hughes had his way with Joe Thomas on Sunday. The elite left tackle was called for four penalties and gave up a quarterback hit and hurry. Hughes also had the play of the game on Sunday. He forced a Terrance West fumble, recovered the ball and ran it into the end zone. He finished with three hurries and a quarterback hit.

Mario Williams also had plenty of success against Mitchell Schwartz. Mario was credited with three quarterback hurries and one hit. His best play may have been blowing up a running play in the backfield.

Kyle Williams also had a big game for the Bills. He had a sack, two quarterback hits and three quarterback hurries. A referee reviewed overturned what should have been a second sack and forced fumble.

Marcell Dareus was a bit quiet on Sunday as he left the game temporarily with a hip injury. He was strong in run support during his limited time on the field. In all, the starting four was excellent.

Linebackers: A

Nigel Bradham was everywhere on the field Sunday. He was in Doug Marrone’s doghouse last season, but a Kiko Alonso injury opened the door for him in 2014 He’s taken advantage of the opportunity and has played like a man possessed. He’s had some terrific outings in 2014, but Sunday’s game may have been Bradham’s best game of the season. He finished with 12 total tackles, seven stops and a sack.

Preston Brown continued his consistent play on Sunday. He was terrific in run support and decent in coverage. On one play, Brown found himself trying to cover Miles Austin. The Browns receiver ended up getting open on the play. Brown shouldn’t be put in one-on-one coverage with any receiver. Brandon Spikes was terrific in run support, his specialty, and had a strong game overall. Buffalo’s front seven has been huge for the Bills as of late.

Secondary: A-

Da’Norris Searcy led the secondary on Sunday with two interceptions. He had an opportunity for a third, but the ball went right through his hands. Aaron Williams had a solid outing as well from the safety position. At cornerback, Stephon Gilmore, Corey Graham and Nickell Robey played well. The group didn’t allow Josh Gordon to go off, a big key to their victory. Gordon and Miles Austin both finished with a respectable amount of yards (161 total), but Buffalo’s secondary kept them out of the end zone.

Special Teams: B+

Dan Carpenter had his first field goal blocked, but he made his next four field goals and two extra points. Colton Schmidt averaged 45.8 yards per punt and three of his five punts landed inside the 20.

In the return game, Marcus Thigpen provided a bit of a spark on punt returns. He finished with an average of 11.8 yards on four punt returns. His longest return went for 19 yards.

How would you grade Buffalo’s positional units based upon their play in Week 13? Let’s discuss it in the forums!


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