Monday Bills Musings: Respect Bills 'D'

The Broncos took advantage of field position and put up 24 points against the Bills. Don't let that total fool you though; the Bills defense was terrific on Sunday.

Bills Defense Deserves Credit

One common comment following the Buffalo Bills/Denver Broncos game?

Peyton Manning looked old.”

Manning certainly wasn’t at his sharpest and age may be a factor, but the main reason Manning struggled was Buffalo’s terrific defense. At 7-6 the Bills as a team don’t deserve national media attention, but the defense certainly does.

Manning entered the game with a 51-game streak of throwing a touchdown pass. The Bills defense ended that streak on Sunday. Manning finished the game going 14-of-20 for 173 yards and two interceptions. His 14 completions were the lowest he’s had since 2008.

Manning was able to get the ball out quickly so the defensive line wasn’t its normal disruptive self. However, Buffalo’s cornerbacks stepped up in a large way. Stephon Gilmore was targeted five times on Sunday and gave up 2 receptions for 14 total yards. Gilmore also logged an interception. Corey Graham gave up two receptions on four targets Sunday for 20 yards. He also logged an interception.

Manning is still one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, but the Bills defense had his number on Sunday.

It’s Okay to Be Angry at Refs, but don’t be Foolish

The referee fist bump was meaningless. There’s no conspiracy against the Bills by the NFL. Simply put, the Bills just haven’t been a very good team in over a decade. That said, it’s okay to show anger at certain calls that referees make.

Denver’s first two touchdown drives were aided by extremely questionable flags. On a third down pass to Wes Welker, Nickell Robey had terrific coverage throughout the play and batted Manning’s pass away. A flag was thrown and illegal contact was called on Robey. A replay showed no contact whatsoever and many in the national media have said that it was a bad call if the referees meant to call the penalty on Robey. It is possible that the referee meant to call the penalty on safety Aaron Williams. As it stands, it was a bad call that led to a touchdown.

On Denver’s second touchdown drive, Stephon Gilmore timed a hit on Emmanuel Sanders perfectly. It was a hard hit, but clean. One referee called Gilmore for pass interference. After the game, Gilmore said another referee approached him and told him that it looked clean to him. The penalty on Gilmore led to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Jerry Hughes. Once again, the flag came on a third down play. Hughes wouldn’t have lost his composure if that flag wasn’t thrown, so the original penalty is relevant. It also led to a touchdown.

The flags weren’t consistent on both sides. Early in the game, Lee Smith had his helmet knocked off and Malik Jackson threw a headbutt at him. No flag thrown. No personal foul. No ejection. This is just one example why some fans were up in airs on Sunday. Remember, it’s okay to be angry, but don’t be foolish. There’s no conspiracy against the Bills.

Random Musings

-The fact that Doug Marrone didn’t notice Jerry Hughes on the sidelines is worrisome. This is one of his best defensive players! How do you not notice this? As head coach, Doug Marrone needs to be more aware of what’s going on around him.

-Fred Jackson is still the heart and soul of the Bills, but there is no reason that he should led Buffalo in targets. The Bills clearly saw something on film that made them believe that screens and quick passes would work against the Broncos. Early on, Buffalo was moving the ball, but each drive eventually sputtered out. Jackson was targeted 14 times on Sunday. He caught 10 of the passes for 37 yards. Its okay to keep your top running back involved, but you won’t win many games where Jackson is seeing more targets than Sammy Watkins.

-Watkins was terrific against on Sunday, but some of the receptions came late when the Broncos were in prevent defense. That said, he finished with seven receptions and 127 yards. With that stat line, Watkins became the first Bills player since Lee Evans in 2008 to record four 100 yard outings.

-Buffalo’s playoff chances are slim, but a win at home against Green Bay will make things interesting. It’s certainly possible as the Packers average 22.5 points on the road. That’s significantly lower than the 40.8 points they average at home. That home total may be going up as the team is currently throttling the Atlanta Falcons.

-There have been times where Buffalo could have pulled Kyle Orton in favor of E.J. Manuel. However, it’s clear that the Bills coaching staff feels Orton gives them their best chance to finish at .500 or with a winning record. At this point, it’s doubtful that we see Manuel again in 2014.

-Jordan Gay had his worst outing as Buffalo’s kickoff specialist. If he has another rough outing on Sunday, he may not find himself on the roster much longer. 

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