Buffalo Bills Week 15 Positional Grades

Sunday was one of Buffalo's biggest home games in years and the Bills showed up in a big way. Buffalo defeated the Green Bay Packers 21-13 to keep their playoff hopes alive. The credit for the win goes to the defense and special teams as the offense continued to struggle.

The Buffalo Bills made their final home game of 2014 memorable by defeating the Green Bay Packers 21-13. With two weeks to play, Buffalo is still in the playoff picture. Even if they don’t make the postseason, fans have to be excited about Buffalo’s future. The defense is legitimately one of the best in their history and should improve with Kiko Alonso in 2015. Special teams have also been outstanding in 2014. The offense is what’s currently holding them back. It was the offense, or lack thereof, that kept Green Bay in Sunday’s game. Here’s a look at positional grades for Week 15.

Quarterback: D

“Buffalo needs a quarterback.” This is a quote that Bills fans have heard or said since Jim Kelly retired. Sure, Doug Flutie made things interesting at one time and Drew Bledsoe had a terrific season or two, but the team never replaced their franchise quarterback. Unfortunately, this is still the case.

Kyle Orton was pretty bad on Sunday. He threw passes behind his receivers, had no touch on deep passes and threw into double coverage for short or minimal gains. He finished the game with 14 completions on 27 attempts for 158 yards and an interception.

 Although Orton has struggled, the Bills haven’t given any thought to giving E.J. Manuel a chance to win his job back. It’s become apparently that this coaching staff doesn’t think highly of their backup. With their starting quarterback struggling, Buffalo needs to call around this offseason and see if there are any upgrades available. A slightly above average quarterback can lead this team into the playoffs consistently.

Running Backs: B+

The Bills still haven’t had an individual back rush for over 100 yards this season, but Buffalo’s three-headed attack rushed for 117 yards against the Packers. Fred Jackson led the way with 71 yards on 20 carries. Jackson still flashes his talent, but he has lost a step it seems. Anthony Dixon gained 26 yards on six carries and gave Bills fans a minor heart attack when he fumbled late in the game. Luckily, he landed on top of the ball. Last, Bryce Brown gained 20 yards on four carries. He showed good speed and an ability to turn nothing into something on Sunday. It’ll be interesting to see how his role expands in 2015.

Brown also led the team in receiving. He caught one pass for 40 yards on Sunday. If Orton had led Brown, the Bills would have scored a touchdown on the play. When the Bills throw to Brown, he generally does well. Jackson caught three passes for 27 yards and Dixon added one reception for five yards. Overall, the backs were very involved on Sunday.

Wide Receivers: D

Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Chris Hogan were targeted 13 times on Sunday. They finished with four receptions for 68 yards. This isn’t all on the receivers. Many of the passes thrown their way were off. Watkins’ only reception came on an excellent adjustment to a poor Orton throw. Woods had two receptions for 22 yards and Hogan added one catch for six yards. Again, the receivers don’t deserve a lot of the blame, but 68 yards total doesn’t generally cut it.

Tight Ends: D

The tight ends of the Bills added 30 yards receiving on five receptions. Scott Chandler had 22 yards on two receptions. One reception was a crucial 12 yard gain on third down late in the game. That catch helped the Bills drain another two minutes off of the play clock. MarQueis Gray added seven yards on one reception and Lee Smith found a way to gain one yard on two receptions.

Offensive Line: C

Cordy Glenn is a terrific young left tackle, but he had a brutal game against the Packers. He was called for three penalties and two quarterback hurries. Clay Matthews gave him fits all day and Glenn will need to bounce back in Week 16. Kraig Urbik and Eric Wood actually played very well for the Bills on Sunday. Urbik gave up a QB hurry and Wood was responsible for a sack, but their overall blocking was terrific. Erik Pears’ performance was below average, but that’s generally the case. He allowed a sack and hurry while struggling as a pass and run blocker. Seantrel Henderson fared pretty well. He’s really grown this season at right tackle and has shown a lot of promise going forward.

Defensive Line: B+

Mario Williams made a play late when it mattered the most. Against J.C. Tretter, Williams strip sacked Aaron Rodgers. It led to a safety and pushed Buffalo’s lead to eight points. Williams added two other quarterback hurries on Sunday but he wasn’t the best Williams on the defensive line. Kyle Williams had a terrific game, especially from the pass rushing standpoint. Williams had four pressures on Sunday on Sunday for the Bills.

Marcell Dareus and Jerry Hughes struggled a bit on Sunday, but they deserve a pass for their terrific play this season.

Linebackers: B-

Nigel Bradham continued his tremendous play for the Bills. He’s been outstanding this season and was terrific on Sunday, especially in coverage. Preston Brown on the other hand struggled. The linebackers and defensive line gave up a bit too much on the ground to the Packers. These two were the main contributors on Sunday. Brandon Spikes only played nine snaps and Keith Rivers played one sack.

Secondary: A+

What a game for Buffalo’s secondary. The cornerback play was outstanding. Stephon Gilmore gave up one reception on eight targets for six yards. He probably should have added a pick six to his stat line, but that was the only negative about his game on Sunday. Corey Graham was also terrific, giving up three receptions on six targets for 34 yards.

At safety, the team was without Da’Norris Searcy and Duke Williams left with an injury as well. That left Aaron Williams and Bacarri Rambo. Williams struggled a bit on Sunday, but Aaron Rodgers gives plenty of players fits. Rambo was a mercenary on the field when his number was called upon. He drew first blood on Rodgers by intercepting the quarterback. Later in the game, we saw the sequel when Rambo intercepted Rodgers a second time. It was great to see the next man up play well when injuries arose. Overall, an outstanding performance against an MVP candidate quarterback.

Special Teams: A

A Marcus Thigpen 75 yard punt return for a touchdown and four Dan Carpenter field goals tell the story here. Nineteen of Buffalo’s 21 points came on special teams. That’s a terrific performance for the unit. Colton Schmidt’s punt average wasn’t terrific on Sunday, but field position played into this. Three of his six punts landed inside the 20 yard line.

Jordan Gay wasn’t great for the Bills and had one kickoff go out of bounds, but his performance didn’t cost the Bills on Sunday. He’ll need to finish the season strong in the next two weeks if he hopes to keep a roster spot with the Bills in 2015.

How would you grade Buffalo’s positional units based upon their play in Week 15? Let’s discuss it in the forums!


Buffalo Football Report Top Stories