Buffalo Football Report will give out report card grades to each positional unit on the Buffalo Bills following games. After a 33-17 win against the Miami Dolphins, here’s a look at how each positional unit graded out.
Tyrod Taylor only passed the ball 12 times on Sunday but he showed outstanding accuracy by completing 11-of-12 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown. He finished the game with a QBR of 98.0 and had a rating of 146.5. Taylor also showed a willingness to run by picking up 44 yards on 10 carries. The quarterback does a good job of protecting the ball and limiting turnovers, and in doing so, he helps keep Buffalo in games.
Running backs: A+
Two 100 yard rushers? How can you not give this unit an A+? LeSean McCoy reminded football fans just how elusive he can be when healthy and Karlos Williams showed off his power and speed on Sunday. The duo finished with 222 yards rushing on 25 carries with three touchdowns.
Wide receivers named Sammy Watkins: A+
Wide receivers not named Sammy Watkins: INC
With only 12 pass attempts, it’s tough to fairly grade the wide receivers. Watkins, still not 100 percent, still found a way to embarrass Brent Grimes early and often on Sunday. He finished the game with eight receptions, 168 yards and a touchdown. After a dominant performance against Grimes, Watkins now sets his sites on Revis Island.
Besides Watkins, Robert Woods was the only other receiver to even see a target on Sunday. That said, the rest of the unit gets an incomplete due to lack of targets.
Tight ends: B-
The tight ends weren’t featured much on offense with Charles Clay recording one catch for six yards, but Clay and Matthew Mulligan were both effective blockers on Sunday.
Offensive line: A+
Maybe Aaron Kromer is a miracle worker. Perhaps Sunday’s game was a fluke of sorts for the offensive line. We’ll see in the next few weeks, but Sunday’s game was the best performance Buffalo’s offensive line has put together in years. They did a fairly good job of giving Taylor time to pass the ball and the run blocking was outstanding against the Dolphins.
Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito continued their strong play on the left side of the offensive line and Eric Wood also fared well at center. John Miller and Seantrel Henderson had some struggles, but not nearly as many as Bills fans have grown accustomed to. If the unit plays at this level on Thursday against a very formidable Jets defensive line, then perhaps the Bills offensive line is growing as a group.
Defensive Line: C+
Leading up to the game, it seemed as though Mario Williams was going to have the ideal matchup. It turns out that Jerry Hughes was the player with the best one-on-one matchup. The defensive end recorded two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery on Sunday. He finished the game with four quarterback hurries. The rest of the starting unit didn’t have as much success on Sunday. The defensive line has been rather inconsistent for Buffalo, but they’ll have a chance to bounce back quickly on Thursday Night Football.
This unit has continued to disappoint over the last few weeks. Preston Brown had three missed tackles on Sunday and Nigel Bradham looked bad in run defense. Manny Lawson was the best player in the group. He’s a quality veteran but he shouldn’t be outperforming Brown and Bradham. A lot of their struggles are due to how they’re being used in the defense.
Nickell Robey stole the show for Buffalo’s secondary on Sunday. He seemed to be everywhere on the field and made some good plays on the football.
Ronald Darby wasn’t as sharp this week, but it seems as though some of the receptions he gave up came after he suffered an injury on Sunday. He allowed five completions on six attempts for 53 yards and a pass defensed. That said, he did continue to show terrific coverage skills throughout the game.
Stephon Gilmore was called for two penalties on Sunday but only gave up three receptions on six targets for 42 yards. He also added a pass defensed.
There’s nothing specific to point out here in regards to their play, but Corey Graham, Duke Williams and Bacarri Rambo played well on Sunday. Williams continues to show improvement as he sees more playing time on the field.
Dan Carpenter made his only field goal attempt and connected on all four of his extra point attempts on Sunday. Jordan Gay wasn’t as effective as the team’s kickoff specialist. Perhaps he was told to leave his kicks short, but it was unusual seeing Miami return four kick returns.
Colton Schmidt only punted three times on Sunday and he averaged 50 yards per punt. His long was a 58 yard punt.
The offense looked great on Sunday in terms of running the ball and they were efficient in the pass game as well. That said, Greg Roman still had a few head scratchers on Sunday. The flea flicker was an unusual design and it took too long to develop. It resulted in a sack and killed Buffalo’s drive. He also tried an end around with Robert Woods. Woods really doesn’t have the speed to pull off the end around without outstanding blocking. Those were two odd choices but overall the offense looked terrific.
Defensively, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Rex Ryan and the players need to reach middle ground on some of these formations and play calls. All too often, players are being used in ways that don’t fit their skill-set. Although there’s plenty of talent on defense, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a defensive overhaul in the offseason. Ryan is going to look for players who fit his system. For now, Ryan needs to try and tweak the defense so that the players can do what they do best. Something that simple could go a long way for the Bills.