Buffalo Bills Week 16 Positional Grades

The Buffalo Bills laid an egg on Sunday against the Raiders. Some units fared well, but others had poor performances. Here is how each positional unit fared against Oakland.

The Buffalo Bills saved one of their worst performances for Week 16 against the Oakland Raiders. The team started out hot, but eventually sputtered on both sides of the ball. The 26-24 loss ended Buffalo’s chances of making the playoffs and reminded fans that the offense needs to be improved thoroughly in 2015.

Quarterback: C

Orton wasn’t great on Sunday, but the offensive line in front of him was a mess. Orton connected on touchdown passes of 42, 30 and 29 yards respectively, but spent most of the game dinking and dunking the ball since he had to get the ball out quickly. His final stat line (32/49, 329, 3 TD, 2 INT) looks okay, but Orton and the offense sputtered in the first half after the team’s initial touchdown drive. He needs to be more consistent and work on his accuracy. Orton almost had a third interception during the game on a pass intended for Chris Hogan. What made the play even worse was that Hogan clearly had a step on his defender. A pass on target could have been six points.  

Running Backs: C-

Thirteen yards on 13 carries. That’s all that needs to be said about the running game against the Raiders. The offensive line deserves most of the blame for this but the backs are also to be blamed a bit. The only thing saving the backs from getting an “F” is that Fred Jackson led the team in receiving with 93 yards on nine receptions. Spiller also added 14 yards receiving. Over 100 yards receiving boosts them up a bit.

Wide Receivers: A-

Buffalo’s receivers combined to catch 13 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Sammy Watkins led the way with 75 yards on three receptions and a touchdown. Robert Woods added 52 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions and Chris Hogan had 43 yards on three receptions.

Tight Ends: C+

Scott Chandler caught a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to get the Bills within two points. He finished with four receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. MarQueis Gray also added two receptions for 15 yards. Gray hasn’t been a consistent target by any means, but he’s done well in his limited time in Buffalo. It’ll be nice to see how involved he is in the offense after a full offseason of learning the playbook.

Offensive Line: F

Good news? The Bills have a reliable left tackle in Cordy Glenn and Seantrel Henderson has improved throughout the season at right tackle. Bad news? The interior of the line is a mess. On Sunday, Kraig Urbik and Erik Pears were abused by the Raiders defenders. Eric Wood didn’t fare too well either. Wood’s struggles may simply be a case where he’s trying to do too much with the guard play around him. The line didn’t open any holes for the running backs and Kyle Orton saw plenty of pressure in the passing game. In the offseason, Buffalo needs to add a top notch guard. The team still has Cyril Richardson and Cyrus Kouandjio, both candidates for one guard position in 2015. You want to give the young players an offseason to improve, but you cannot depend upon them solely. Bring in someone like Mike Iupati in free agency, and the offensive line is suddenly looking a lot better.

Defensive Line: C+

Marcell Dareus is a bad, bad man. He left Sunday’s game with an injury, but was absolutely dominant before the injury. The one-man wrecking crew was bullying Oakland’s offensive line. Unfortunately, Dareus only played 11 snaps. When he was in, the Raiders rushed six times for five yards. After he left? Oakland rushed 30 times for 135 yards. Stefan Charles and Corbin Bryant struggled greatly in his place. Dareus is due for a new contract after the 2015 season and he’ll deserve every penny he makes. Mario Williams and Kyle Williams combined for a sack and the unit overall had 12 quarterback hurries. The failure to stop Latavius Murray and Darren McFadden in the run game brings the overall grade of the defensive line down quite a bit.

Linebackers: C

The linebackers had a disappointing effort on Sunday. Preston Brown really struggled as a run defender, usually a strength, and in coverage. Nigel Bradham, a player who has emerged this season, was also bad on Sunday against the run. Both players took bad angles on tackles and allowed Oakland’s running backs to get big gains. Brandon Spikes was the only bright spot in the unit on Sunday. He’s still one of the best run defenders in the NFL and hasn’t been a liability in coverage due to the way the Bills have used him. Hopefully, Spikes and the Bills can come to terms on a new deal in the offseason.

Secondary: B

Stephon Gilmore continued his tremendous play on Sunday. He allowed one reception for 11 yards on three targets. In the last three weeks, he’s been targeted 16 times and given up four receptions for 31 yards. He’s flown under the radar in terms of players who have really improved this season. Corey Graham was also having a good game until he gave up a 51 yard pass to Andre Holmes. That was the defensive play that really finished off the Bills late in the game. Graham took full responsibility for not battling the ball down. Before that play, Graham had given up three receptions on seven targets for 17 yards. The cornerback play was terrific.

Aaron Williams was also responsible for giving up a big play on Sunday. Early in the game, the Raiders faced a 3rd and long situation and the Raiders came up with a 50 yard reception to Kenbrell Thompkins. Williams has given up 10 receptions on his last 10 targets (over 4 weeks). He needs to improve his play for Buffalo. Da’Norris Searcy performed well in his return from injury and Nickell Robey also looked good in the slot. Two big plays by the Raiders cost the Bills an “A” here.

Special Teams: B-

Dan Carpenter is terrific. I can’t praise the guy enough. Against the Raiders, he kicked a 54 yard field goal like it was nothing and added three extra points. He’s had another outstanding season with the Bills.

Colton Schmidt shanked a few punts against Oakland that never allowed the Bills to flip the field on Oakland. His final stat line looks good because of a 67 yard punt. He punted eight times on Sunday and finished with a 42.5 yard average.

In the return game, Marcus Thigpen played decently by averaging 21.7 yards on kickoffs. He didn’t do much as a punt returner, but he’s fared well since joining the Bills.

How would you grade Buffalo’s positional units based upon their play in Week 16? Let’s discuss it in the forums!


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