The Buffalo Bills are officially out of playoff contention after falling to Washington by a score of 35-25. It was an ugly performance by Buffalo's defense and the loss makes you wonder what changes are going to occur in the offseason. Here's a look at how each positional unit fared on Sunday.
Tyrod Taylor’s accuracy wasn’t outstanding on Sunday as he completed 16-of-27 passes but the quarterback was under constant pressure. When Taylor was given time to pass the ball, he performed very well. The quarterback connected on two deep passes to Sammy Watkins and continued to show that the chemistry is there between the duo.
While running for his life, Taylor also added 79 yards on nine carries. Buffalo needs to add a reliable backup and also draft a QB to develop in the offseason but Taylor has shown enough to believe that he can be the man in 2016.
Running backs: B
LeSean McCoy’s MCL injury put a bit of a damper on the Bills on Sunday. He finished with 29 yards on 10 carries on Sunday.
Karlos Williams returned to action and picked up 41 yards on four carries. The rookie running back runs hard and doesn’t fall down at first contact. As long as he can stay healthy, the future is very bright for Williams.
Mike Gillislee stole the show for Buffalo, ripping off a 60 yard touchdown. He finished the game with 81 yards on four carries for the Bills. He’s scored a touchdown in the last two games for Buffalo and proved that he belongs on the 53-man roster.
Wide receivers: B+
It’s too little, too late this season but Sammy Watkins is finally starting to be utilized correctly by the Bills. Watkins has seen 10 targets or more in three of the last four weeks. Against the Redskins, Watkins hauled in five receptions for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Watkins has been one of the hottest WRs in the NFL and it’ll be fun to see what Watkins can do against the Cowboys and in his rematch with Darrelle Revis and the Jets.
Robert Woods had four receptions for 44 yards on Sunday but his season may be over after injuring his groin. That will leave Chris Hogan as the team’s No. 2 receiver. Look for Dezmin Lewis, Buffalo’s seventh round pick, to get promoted if Woods heads to the injured reserve.
Tight ends: C
Both Nick O’Leary and Chris Gragg registered one reception on Sunday. O’Leary’s catch went for 37 yards and Gragg’s pass resulted in a 16 yard gain. Both players also had their moments in the blocking game. Charles Clay could return this week versus Dallas which would help the unit significantly.
Offensive line: D
Pro Football Focus actually gave Eric Wood, John Miller and Richie Incognito positive grades. That said, the unit had Tyrod Taylor running for his life throughout Sunday’s game. The game was actually Miller’s first positive grade of the season from PFF so it’s at least an encouraging sign as the end of the season approaches.
The biggest area of weakness is at right tackle. It doesn’t appear that Jordan Mills, Seantrel Henderson or Cyrus Kouandjio are the answer. Don’t be surprised if Buffalo invests a high pick in a right tackle during the 2016 draft.
Defensive line: C
Jerry Hughes is the only defensive lineman who can get consistent pressure on the quarterback. The defensive end had four hurries and one sack for Buffalo. He also went off on the sidelines over how poorly the defense was performing. Hughes may take some foolish penalties but you can’t question his effort.
The other stars along the line, Marcell Dareus and Mario Williams, were inconsistent on Sunday. At this point I’d be shocked if Mario Williams returns in 2016.
Corbin Bryant played well, especially in run defense, on Sunday. PFF also gave T.J. Barnes high marks in run defense based upon his 10 snaps.
Same story, different week. Manny Lawson was the only linebacker that stood out on the field on Sunday. The veteran was terrific in run and pass defense and added two batted passes on Sunday. He’s on the downside of his career but no other linebacker has performed as well as Lawson this season for Buffalo.
Preston Brown continued to struggle in Rex Ryan’s defense. It’s unlikely that he’s released but trading him to a team that runs a traditional 4-3 defense would help Brown immensely. Meanwhile, the Bills could perhaps trade for a player that is a better fit in the defense.
Ronald Darby had his lowest rating of the season at PFF and it’s understandable why this was the case. The rookie allowed seven receptions on eight targets for 96 yards. It was far from Darby’s best effort. Adding insult to injury, Darby is no longer the favorite for DROY. Marcus Peters’ two interceptions, including one for a touchdown, pushes the Chiefs corner ahead of Darby.
Despite Darby’s struggles, Leodis McKelvin was the weak link. The cornerback allowed two touchdowns on Sunday, as well as 76 yards receiving. He’s another player that has worn out his welcome in Buffalo and needs to be released in the offseason.
Safety play was just as poor for Buffalo on Sunday. Corey Graham allowed a 77 yard touchdown reception to DeSean Jackson and Bacarri Rambo gave up a touchdown to Jordan Reed. The duo has been solid as of late so it was a letdown to see them perform poorly against Washington.
Special teams: D
Dan Carpenter connected on his only field goal attempt on Sunday and was perfect on extra points. He saved the unit from getting an F grade. Colton Schmidt’s punting was terrible on Sunday, including a ball that he actually missed for the most part. He finished the game averaging 35 yards per punt. Last, Marcus Thigpen was a non-factor in the return game. In all, it wasn’t a great day for the special teams unit.