Buffalo Football Report will give out report card grades to each positional unit on the Buffalo Bills following games. After a 34-31 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, here’s a look at how each positional unit graded out.
What a disaster. EJ Manuel put the Bills in quite the hole after two consecutive turnovers led to two defensive touchdowns. Another interception on the following drive by Manuel, gave the Jaguars a short field that led to another touchdown. Putting the Bills in such a bad spot alone is bad enough to give him an ‘F.’ However, his delusional statement after the game put it over the top.
Postgame, Manuel said, “I don’t think I cost the team the game.” Spotting one of the worst teams in the NFL with 20 points certainly cost the Bills on Sunday. Yes, the pro-Manuel crowd will point to the fact that the Bills took the lead late. The Bills did make a nice comeback and Manuel had some good passes along the way, but he’s still incredibly inconsistent. He’ll drop in a dime to Robert Woods for a touchdown but then bounce a 5-7 yard pass in front of his receiver or lead his receiver too far in the flat.
Unsurprisingly, Manuel had the lowest grade at quarterback in Week 7 at Pro Football Focus with a -9.2 and earned a QBR of 19.2.
Running backs: B
LeSean McCoy finished the game with a 3.8 YPC average but he was impressive behind an offensive line that was missing two starters. In addition to picking up 68 yards on the ground, McCoy added 36 yards in the receiving game. McCoy did have a fumble at the one yard line but he took quite a shot on the play. McCoy made a great catch on the play and some terrific moves to even get close to the end zone. The fumble was untimely, but that was one heck of a hit.
McCoy came out of Sunday’s game relatively healthy and now he’ll have even more time to get to 100 percent before the Bills take the field for their next game. McCoy at 100 percent with a healthy Karlos Williams as a change of pace back will make for a formidable duo over the last nine weeks of the season.
Wide receivers: A-
This grade gets a bit of a boost considering how badly things looked for the receiving corps entering the game. Buffalo was without Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin on Sunday, and the team only had four active receivers. Despite this, Robert Woods, Chris Hogan and Marcus Easley all stepped up and contributed against the Jaguars. Woods led the way with 84 yards and a touchdown on nine receptions. Easley made his first big play as a receiver, scoring a touchdown on a 58 yard catch and Chris Hogan added 56 yards on six receptions.
That’s a pretty good effort from a beat up group.
Tight ends: C
Charles Clay saw 13 targets against the Bengals in Week 6 so many people believed that the tight end was going to see quite a few targets against the Jaguars. It didn’t turn out that way for the tight end. Clay only saw four targets on Sunday, catching three passes for 26 yards.
Chris Gragg contributed to the team for the second consecutive week. The second tight end caught two passes for 35 yards on Sunday. He could have scored a touchdown if EJ Manuel would have been more accurate on his 29 yard reception.
Offensive line: B+
Eric Wood had one play where he blew his blocking assignment but overall this unit looked pretty solid on Sunday. Considering the team was starting two backups, there wasn’t much to complain about with this unit.
Richie Incognito continued his outstanding season with the Bills and Cordy Glenn was also solid as usual. The biggest surprise may have been Cyrus Kouandjio. His performance at right tackle on Sunday may have been better than any outing from Seantrel Henderson this season. He deserves another look at starting at right tackle after the bye week.
Defensive Line: B
Buffalo’s defensive line accounted for 13 quarterback hurries, a quarterback hit and a sack on Sunday. Marcell Dareus was absolutely dominant in run defense, which is nothing new. Mario Williams was credited with a sack on Sunday but he didn’t back up his claim that the pass rush was coming.
Dennis Thurman and Rex Ryan have two weeks to fix the defensive line and they better come up with some answers during that time.
It was a pretty mediocre outing for Buffalo’s linebackers on Sunday. Preston Brown missed a would-be sack on Blake Bortles and Nigel Bradham and Manny Lawson did nothing of note.
Has any cornerback made such a drastic 180 as Ronald Darby? The cornerback struggled during the preseason and took his lumps on an island. Through seven weeks of the regular season, Darby looks like a superstar. The rookie was targeted eight times on Sunday and only allowed two receptions. He also added three passes defensed. He was an absolute steal for the Bills in the second round of the draft.
Stephon Gilmore didn’t fare as well on Sunday. The veteran gave up three receptions on four targets for 50 yards and a touchdown.
Last, Nickell Robey played very well on Sunday but was hosed on the pass interference call late. He has every right to be angry at the NFL referees for blowing the call that eventually that kept Jacksonville’s game-winning drive alive.
Corey Graham made a good play for an interception late in the game on Sunday and his return for a touchdown was even better. He played well on Sunday, as did Duke Williams. Williams put together one of his best outings of the season on Sunday. The extra snaps are really benefitting Williams at this point.
Dan Carpenter was 3-of-3 on field goal attempts and perfect on extra points. Jordan Gay was also solid in his return. The Jaguars had two returns but they went for a total of 20 yards.
If the Bills could find quarterbacks the way they find punters, they’d be the greatest team in the NFL. Buffalo always finds really good punters and Colton Schmidt did a wonderful job on Sunday against the Jaguars. He averaged 49.3 yards per punt and had a long of 57 yards.
There is no excuse for the Bills to be 3-4 at this point of the season and poor coaching once again reared its ugly head on Sunday. Against the Jaguars, Greg Roman’s game plan should have been simple. Go run heavy and expect the defense to keep the game close. Instead, Roman had Manuel let it rip and that led to 20 quick points for the Jaguars in the first half. After that, he had no choice but to let Manuel throw. That said, it was Roman’s poor play calling that led to Buffalo having to rely on Manuel. In no way should he be throwing the ball over 40 times.
Defensively, Buffalo showed signs of life but they still aren’t close to playing at the high level we saw out of the team last season.
During the bye week, the team needs to get healthy and make some adjustments on both sides of the ball. When they return, Buffalo will face off with a much improved Miami Dolphins team, the New York Jets and the New England Patriots. Things could get even uglier for Buffalo if they can’t win at least one game of the three. Realistically, Buffalo needs to win at least two of three in this stretch.