Bills Self Destruct Against Miami

For those of you Bills fans who seem to think that the Bills cannot be any worse than they were yesterday vs. Miami at the Ralph I say do not count the season over just yet. Next week the Bills travel to Foxborough to play both the hottest and best team in the NFL at present. The Patriots will be looking to rectify practically the only blemish on their season with a decisive victory over the Bills and I have no doubt that they are going to get it.

In fact, I will state now that if the Bills are able to put up a single offensive touchdown next week in Foxborough against the starting Patriot defensive rotation, then I will be shocked. As well, I dare say that if the Bills are able to put up any points at all then they should consider themselves fortunate.

Words cannot convey the lackluster performance by the Bills offense yesterday. Let's start with game grades:

QB: F- The play that said it all to me was the interception to Buckley for a 74-yard touchdown return. Obviously Bledsoe is not going to catch anyone at all let alone Buckley, but instead of just standing there looking dopey and pathetic, at least move down the field Drew, however long it takes you! Instead, with all the other players running in the direction of the Miami end zone, Drew found himself standing alone motionless and inert at the spot where he threw the "stake-through-the-heart" pick.

Bledsoe played like a third string QB with little experience overall. He almost had several other interceptions as well.

And next week Drew, if for some bizarre reason your "brilliant minded" offensive coaches decide to sit you and play Brown, at least have the decency to insist that you play and not put Brown up there to face our toughest defensive opponent all season long only to be able to hear everyone saying that it's the line and rest of the team and not you. Be the man, start the game, and take the heat yourself. And oh yeah, I almost forgot, good luck!

RB: C Henry tried, but with the Bills' offensive line missing three starters at the two tackle spots and right guard, and with the absence of any semblance of a passing game to compliment him, it was an uphill struggle. Henry did have one lost fumble. However he has improved immensely from last season to this one losing only 2 fumbles all season long thus far vice eight last season, and having only 6 fumbles all season long vice 11 last season.

WR: D+ The WRs were open at times, but not nearly enough to earn them a decent grade. When they were Drew simply could not hit them overthrowing, throwing at their knees and feet, behind, and everywhere else but in their hands. Yet, and in spite of a very good Miami secondary, they simply did not get open enough.

TE: C Once again, do the Bills have any! Campbell caught three balls for 55 yards and a very nicely run route catch for 31. Other than that however, once again, it appears that the Bills enjoy overlooking their tight ends, normally great targets for struggling QBs and passing games. See ya Kevin!

OL: F The offensive line played poorly. Then again, the Bills star tackles Jonas Jennings and Mike Williams were out having been replaced by Price and Marcus Sullivan who has not been active for much of the season and playing a position new to him in Buffalo. Tucker filled in for Pucillo as well.

DL: B+ The Bills' defensive line played a decent game against a sub-par Miami offensive line logging two sacks. (Schobel, Denney) They helped hold the Dolphins to only 119 net yards of offense in the first half and only 50 net yards in the second half. The D as a whole allowed only 13 points on drives begun by Miami at the Bills' 36, 24, and 33 yard lines due to the ineffectiveness of the Bills offense.

LB: B+ Fletcher was excellent, Spikes was solid, and play otherwise was good.

DB: A- Coverage was very good and run support was excellent. The defensive backs were hitting hard, covering tightly, and playing all out well. Wire and McGee were both very good as well with McGee staying focused on grabbing a batted around ball for an interception.

STs: D+ One fumble by Clements on a punt return set up the Fins at the Bills' 24 yard line for their second score of the game to put them up 10-0. Below average otherwise.

Coaching: There is absolutely no creativity or even solid decision making on the part of the offensive coaching. Offensive coaching led by Gilbride gets an F. In fact, I will run a small risk here and preassign an F to Gilbride's offensive coordinating for next week's game as well.

Defensive coaching by Gray gets an A. Ricky Williams had 111 yards on the day averaging only 3.8 yards-per-carry on the day. Last season Williams burned the Bills for over 400 rushing yards in two games. The Bills defense allowed only 13 points but all on drives begun in field goal range. The defense cannot be faulted for that. Danny Smith and special teams coaching gets a D.

I must also chide Greg Williams for botching the very first decision of the day by electing to receive with a won coin toss. Why on earth in a game that is expected to be defensive right down to the wire, and was, and with two offenses performing so poorly coming into this game that they cannot be relied upon to move the ball, would a coach elect to receive the ball on the opening kickoff?!

It makes no sense whatsoever and was indeed a factor in this game. That decision alone may have been the single biggest contributing factor in the outcome of this game. It in no way negates or excuses the poor play of the offense, but was responsible in large part for the short fields that the Dolphins had to work with in conjunction with the inability of the offense to move the ball.

The first eleven drives of this game for the Bills had only one drive result in more than 13 positive yards. A 34-yard drive opened the second half. In the first half the Bills had four of seven drives result in negative net yardage with the longest drive being 13 yards.

I grow weary of anyone at all defending Bledsoe on any counts whatsoever. Going back to midseason last year, over the past 23 games, Drew has tossed only 19 touchdowns and had 34 turnovers, 22 interceptions and 12 lost fumbles. In spite of insistences that he played better last season, he did it vs. three teams with very bad defenses and only Denver and Miami otherwise. After that he was no better last season than this, even with Price, Riemersma, and Centers, none of whom are doing anything at all significant this season.

That would be easily less than one touchdown per game contrasted with 1.5 turnovers per game. Of those 23 games, he has thrown 2 or more touchdowns in only five of those games and zero touchdowns in 10 of those games.

Other than that, he has played poorly since he has been in Buffalo. After that, I will simply repeat the notion that for as long as he is starting in Buffalo the Bills are going nowhere just as the Pats were going nowhere while he was in New England. Notice that that statement is not a function of salary paid him. Hint Mr. Donahoe, hint!

Was the offensive line poor yesterday? Of course it was, in fact it was horrific. But even when given time Drew has made very poor plays and decisions this season with absolutely no indication that his arm is anywhere near as strong as it has been in the past often under throwing his receivers even when they are wide open.

This week the Bills have a short week before traveling to Foxborough to have perhaps their worst game vs. New England during the Bledsoe era. I for one hope that Drew starts the game and that the team does not stick Travis Brown in there behind this beat up and inadequate line simply to be able to use it as a tool to point to the line as a reason to retain Bledsoe.

The time to have put Brown in was back in week 10 or so, or even sooner, but not now. The Patriots play the day before the Chiefs do and need a win to be certain to clinch the homefield advantage throughout the playoffs and to cap off a 12-game winning streak. So Bills' fans expecting a lapse or a "half-hearted" effort will be disappointed. The only "black mark" on their current season is the week one loss to the Bills in Buffalo as the team was in disarray emotionally following the waiving of Lawyer Milloy. As well, Bill Belichick will not allow the Pats to lose such a game heading into the playoffs.

I expect the Bills' defense to show up next week perhaps even making a game out of the matchup. However, I am expecting nothing at all from this Bledsoe-led/Gilbride-coordinated offense, not a single point.

The Bills can now expect to receive somewhere between the 11th and 13th overall draft pick in this April's NFL draft. Following next week's game, I believe that Tom Donahoe needs to make a statement by firing Kevin Gilbride within 24 hours of the season ending. If not, his credibility takes yet another what will be "earned" hit.

I can appreciate Ralph Wilson's "we need to sit down and evaluate" approach to post-season changes, however, other things can be lost as well by not acting quickly enough. Things such as credibility are at risk also. And it should be no secret that Gilbride, followed by Williams are clearly gone at year's end. Danny Smith's release should be a no-brainer and should be made quickly as well. I also would not be reduced to tears if Pat Ruel were released either.

I also believe that Drew needs to go as well although believe that decision can wait until the offseason is in full swing. The only time that Bledsoe has played very well was at the beginning of last season and then only primarily vs. poor defensive teams and teams finishing 6-10 or worse.

Even if his salary is reduced, he is incapable of leading this team successfully in the playoffs vs. playoff caliber talent. Ergo, why keep him around even for veteran minimum. At last check, staffing was not an exercise in the optimization of the salary cap, it was an orchestrated effort to staff a team capable of winning a Super Bowl. Drew Bledsoe is not that quarterback regardless of how much he is getting paid!

With next week's game all but determined, the Bills can now turn to the offseason and begin thinking of how to correct the team's biggest issues. In the meantime, the AFC playoffs ought to be very entertaining and fun to watch.


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