The Buffalo Bills can pretty much kiss their playoff chances behind after falling to the Eagles 23-20. It was another disappointing loss in a disappointing season for the Bills. How did each positional unit fare in the loss? Here's a look:
Sunday wasn’t Tyrod Taylor’s best performance. At times it seemed as though he forced the deep ball against the Philadelphia Eagles. The quarterback has had a lot of success with the deep ball and found Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins for big plays early in the game. From that point, it felt like Taylor’s deep passes were off and ill timed. On third and short and third and intermediate plays, Taylor tried to air it out too often rather than find players running intermediate routes. He also missed a few opportunities to run with the ball. It wasn’t Taylor’s best start but he kept Buffalo in the game on Sunday.
Running backs: B-
LeSean McCoy’s homecoming probably wasn’t what he envisioned but he did finish Sunday’s game with over 100 total yards on Sunday. Late in the game, McCoy lost 10 yards on a carry that skewed his overall stats but considering the line play in front of him on Sunday, McCoy wasn’t the problem.
Mike Gillislee’s audition with the Bills is going quite well for the running back. Gillislee had a 19 yard touchdown run and finished with 24 yards on three carries. You could make a case for GIllislee as Buffalo’s No. 3 running back in 2016.
Wide receivers: B+
Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods delivered for Buffalo on Sunday with some big plays. Watkins added another touchdown on Sunday and finished with five receptions for 81 yards. Woods also delivered on Sunday catching five passes for 106 yards. Unfortunately, Woods and Taylor had a miscommunication on a pass late in the game that resulted in an interception that sealed the game. The top duo performed decently on Sunday but their 10 receptions came on 19 targets. Chris Hogan also added 20 yards on two receptions.
Tight ends: INC
Once the Bills lost Charles Clay, it was hard to get a fair assessment of the group. The drop-off behind Clay is substantial and it showed on Sunday. Chris Gragg played 66 snaps and registered one catch for 11 yards. Nick O’Leary only played nine snaps in the first game following his call up. If Clay misses significant time, it’ll be interesting to see if Gragg or O’Leary can step up in the passing game.
Offensive line: F
Cordy Glenn had a pretty good outing for the Bills but he was the only starter who really performed well. Richie Incognito had his worst performance of the season, but at least he admitted as much after the game. Eric Wood struggled in run defense and had a costly penalty in the second half but much like the entire season, the right side of the line was a disaster. John Miller really struggled at right guard and while the team should let him finish out the season for evaluation purposes, it’s hard to be encouraged about his future. The right tackle position may be even worse. Jordan Mills was awful on Sunday and there just doesn’t seem to be an answer there regardless of who plays. Buffalo needs to address the right side of the line in free agency or the draft.
Defensive line: B
The defensive line actually played pretty well on Sunday against the Eagles. The front four had nine quarterback hurries on Sunday, led by Corbin Bryant’s four QB hurries. Mario Williams added a sack late and all four players were strong in run defense. The biggest issue with the unit was penalties. Williams, Dareus and Hughes combined to get called for four penalties on Sunday. Overall, the defensive line fared well against the Eagles.
This unit is such a nightmare. Preston Brown struggled on Sunday and it showed in his Pro Football Focus rating. The analytics site gave Brown a -7.8 grade for Sunday’s game, with -6.4 coming in run defense. He has looked terrible in Ryan’s defense this season. Kevin Reddick only saw four snaps on Sunday as the team waits for Nigel Bradham to return. Manny Lawson was the best player among the unit and came up with four stops for Buffalo. Lawson isn’t a long-term answer for the Bills but at least he doesn’t look totally lost out on the field.
Ronald Darby was fantastic on Sunday as the team’s top cornerback. He was targeted seven times and allowed three receptions for 28 yards while adding two more passes defensed. He finished the game with a rating of +4.1 at PFF, tying his best performance of the season. Darby is a worthy Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate.
Leodis McKelvin was targeted often on Sunday but he made some good plays on the field. The veteran was targeted 10 times and gave up five receptions for 56 yards on Sunday. He did have one interception early in the fourth quarter, as well as a pass defensed.
Nickell Robey was solid on Sunday as well. He allowed two receptions on three targets for 14 yards.
Corey Graham had a rough outing on Sunday against the Eagles. He allowed five receptions on five targets for 89 yards and a touchdown. In a limited role, Duke Williams allowed two receptions on two targets for 10 yards.
The bright spot for the Bills was Bacarri Rambo. The safety allowed the 41 yard reception to Zach Ertz late in the game but it certainly could have been called as an illegal pick play. Overall, Rambo did a good job in coverage and in terms of applying pressure to Bradford on Sunday. In his extended playing time, he’s shown that he can at the very least be counted upon as the team’s top reserve safety.
Special teams: C
It’s gotta be the hair. Dan Carpenter was terrific on Sunday. He was 2/2 in field goal attempts and 2/2 kicking extra points. At one point in the game, Carpenter was angry that the Bills didn’t allow him to attempt a long field goal attempt. Who knows how the game would have worked out if Carpenter kicked and made the long attempt.
Jordan Gay’s kickoffs led to three returns by Josh Huff and Colton Schmidt was outperformed by Donnie Jones of the Eagles.
In the return game, Marcus Thigpen had a costly fumble on a punt that led to an Eagles touchdown and Buffalo’s only kick return was a five yard return by Jerome Felton.