Bills Offense Hits Snooze Button; Sleeps In!

<B>In a sentence: </B> <P> If the only time the Bills' offense scores is when the defense sets them up in the red zone, and then they must rely on a defensive missed assignment to punch it in for a touchdown, then it is going to be a very, very long season indeed.

This game would have been much easier to stomach had it been the D that had choked revealing that the preseason was a complete fluke and that this offense truly had improved over last season's offense. Instead, the jury is still out deliberating. The offense averaged 11 points-per-game over the last 14 games of last season. Today, 10 points. Several more games such as this one however and they will be coming out of sequester to render a verdict.

Both offenses played similarly in many ways. The big difference is that Buffalo's is stocked with prime time (on paper) players while the Jaguars roster has numerous "who is he" players on theirs. Today, the Bills' defense was equally if not more responsible than the offense for the 10 offensive points scored.

Again, as stated in the pre-game piece, this was one of 6 opponents with records equal to or worse than the Bills last season and one of the games that the Bills needed to win in order to reach .500 much less post a winning season. Three of the remaining five teams played well in wins, Oakland played relatively well in a loss on the road, and Arizona even outplayed the Bills offensively against a comparable defense also on the road.

The Good:

Travis Henry: Henry is clearly among the best RBs in the NFL and getting better as he rushed hard against one of the best rushing defenses in the league posting 75 ground yards adding 9 receiving prior to leaving the game injured.

Bledsoe: Any game by Bledsoe without costly mistakes and turnovers is a "good" one. He should have been able to shred this secondary however with the talent mismatch between the Bills' receivers and the Jags' secondary. It is only uphill over the next five games as every one of the secondaries there has top or very close to top cornerbacks and defensive backs.

The offensive line played well but not great vs. a very tough and one of the toughest defensive lines in the league. Pass protection was good in the first half, adequate in the second but against a team not at all noted for their ability to generate a pass rush. There were also few blitzes by defensive backs or varying pass rush looks as the Jags almost exclusively rushed a simple four-man front only.

The defense played exceptionally well albeit vs. an extremely one-dimensional offense.

Coach Mularkey's first officiating challenge was an excellent one. In spite of blind announcers insisting that the call was incorrect, Eric Moulds clearly had the ball extended a good half-yard beyond the first down marker. Great feedback from upstairs and great red flag challenge. Two thumbs up Coach!!

Willis McGahee, while not showing anything close to exceptional speed, showed some very good quick directional changes and displayed some power in his running, albeit against a very emotionally and physically worn down Jag D-line.

Travis Henry and Willis McGahee averaged 3.3 yards-per-carry against a very tenacious Jags' rushing defense with serious size, strength, and talent in the middle.

Moorman's play was freakish!

The Bad:

At this rate, the Bills will not win a single road game.

With the Bills' coaches being from the offensive side, Mularkey and Clements, there was little creativity and exploitation of the weakness of the Jags' defense. Instead, the Bills went right up the gut into their strength. This works fine if the horses on your line are better than those on the opponents' line, but this clearly was not the case.

The offense! Against a very tough Jag run defense and overall scoring defense, yet with a below average pass defense rarely blitzing or showing much other than a straight four man pass rush, the Bills were once again unable to consistently move the ball or punch it into the endzone. Against this Jag defense with little pass rush and a below average secondary, this Bills passing game should have been able to exploit the passing defense. It was not able to do so.

Once again, Bills' red zone efficiency was 1-for-3.

Goal-to-go efficiency was 0-for-1.

The defense cannot do it all throughout the entire season! Let's face it, without that defensive set up at the Jag 18 followed by a blown coverage, this game could very well have been 6-3 Jags late in the 4th. The other three points by the Bills was set up by the D at the Jag 3-yard-line where the Bills lost 6 yards on a Bledsoe sack on 3rd-and-goal a the one yard line. If the defense does not set up the O within the Jags' red zone twice, then the Bills come out of this game with a goose egg.

The Bills faced two 3rd-and-1's and passed on both of them, once resulting in the aforementioned sack, the other in an incomplete pass. This is not encouraging regarding the Bills offense. It is also not seemingly much different from last season. No matter how it is sliced, it certainly raises an eyebrow given that fans have been told that this will be a team predicated on a power running game. One would think that for a team with a power running game the offense would trust that it's power game would be capable of producing a single yard when needed. Instead it relies on Bledsoe on 3rd down and short.

Given the lack of pass rush by the Jags, few blitzes, and the dicey secondary, this Bills offense should have been able to light up this Jax D in the passing game. If they cannot manage more than 147 net yards in the air under these circumstances and with a healthy Eric Moulds, then they will not fare better in upcoming games over the next several weeks.

The offense's lone offensive touchdown was set up at the Jag 18 by the defense and made via a blown defensive coverage per above. Moulds was left completely uncovered and left wide open in the end zone. Would the Bills have been able to score on this drive had the Jags not made such an error?

Bledsoe had plenty of time in the pocket and still did not turn a big game. On several key throws with plenty of time, his throws were off. Versus a team with a pass rush, the offense is even worse than it was in this game.

It is always a flag when an extremely mediocre game by a quarterback is hailed as a "good game" by some. Bledsoe's numbers were very average especially considering that they were posted against a team with little to no pass rush and an equally bad secondary.

The offensive line had difficulty opening holes in key situations.

Vs. the Rams a comparable defense relative to last season's rankings, on the road in St. Louis, the Cardinals who were the league last scoring offense over the entire season last year, passed for 157 net yards and added 103 net rushing yards (mostly with a washed up Emmitt Smith), on 4.8 yards-per-play, 4.5 yards-per-carry, and put up 10 points on drives of 24 and 65 yards.

The Bills vs. the Jags, at home in Buffalo, passed for 147 net yards and added 95 net rushing yards, on 3.8 yards-per-play, 2.6 yards-per-carry, and put up 10 points on drives of 18 and – 4. Yes, that negative sign is supposed to be in there.

Coach Mularkey's decision to go into a prevent defense on the last drive cost the Bills this game, although they quite frankly did not earn a victory with only ten points all of which were set up by the defense inside the red zone. The Jaguars had 150 net yards and only 6 points on two field goals through 58 minutes. Why oh why the D would go into a prevent mode with a three-man pass rush is beyond aggravating. This is understandable if it occurs vs. a team that has had little or no trouble moving the ball, but Jax was not that team today. Two thumbs down! Oh yeah,….and a loss!

This type of offensive performance will not lead to many wins. Given that the all-star cast of talent is largely on the offensive side of the ball, such performances are inexcusable.

The Bills with an offensive cast including Travis Henry, Willis McGahee, Drew Bledsoe, Eric Moulds, Josh Reed, Mark Campbell, Lee Evans managed to put up 10 points on two net drives of 14 yards, again, not without very serious help from the D.

The Jags, with an offensive cast including Fred Taylor, LaBrandon Toefield, Jimmy Smith, Troy Edwards, George Wrighster, Reggie Williams, and Ernest Wilford managed to put up 13 points on 175 yards of total net drives including a game-winning 80 yard drive in two minutes.

This is a new team with a new offensive philosophy and without much film for other teams to plan around. With each passing week that becomes less so with the Patriots, who exposed the Bills' weaknesses for all teams to follow their example on in the 2002 season, coming up in game 3, week 4. I am sure they will do the same this season.

The Bills are still unable to generate any pass pressure unless they rush 5 or 6 men or blitz a defensive back. Rushing five and six men constantly worked fine against a pass-void Jax offense, but it will likely not work vs. teams with veteran signal callers and average or better talent at the receiver spots and tight end.

While "any good game of Bledsoe's without turnovers and mistakes is a good game", Bledsoe did nothing to distinguish himself as anything other than average in this game. He had plenty of time overall and generally speaking, much to my positive surprise, yet he was unable to produce a single offensive touchdown on any drive not set up by the defense in the red zone. Any decent quarterback would have lit up this Jag secondary and defense with little pass rush to the tune of 300 or so yards and a couple of scores.

The special teams other than Moorman was anything but special. It was not bad per se, but it was certainly not above average.


All in all the Bills did nothing to shake the stigmas of their flat offense of last season, this preseason, and now the regular season. The defense picked up right where it left off last season and played well enough to contribute to winning and then some.

My take:

If there is one justifiable criticism that can be levied at coaching after this first game of the season it is that in a game where the team will perhaps be as "up", energized, and motivated as it ever will be this season, and given the lack of player additions on offense as well as the woes of this offense for all of last season, and through this past preseason, the one aspect of this team that had to come out of the gates firing was the offense. The Bills would be in better shape right now had the game been lost 38-27 with the offense legitimately driving and scoring into the 20s entirely on its own merits.

But alas, the two lone scoring drives were on defensive setups within the opponent's red zone netting 14 yards, a single touchdown, and a field goal between them. After all of the assurances and hype that this offense would be playoff capable, in the most positively emotional home game of the season, the offense fell flat. Of eleven offensive drives in this game, the offense could only muster 20 or more yards on four of them and only more than 32 yards on two of them scoring on none of those four drives and ending two of them on turnovers.

As stated in my pregame piece, "If the Bills offense can amass at least 300 yards of offense led by a rushing game averaging at least four yards-per-carry and producing well over 100 yards, then it will indeed be cause for at least some optimism", the expectations were clearly on offense. That offense failed to produce throwing up early signals that this team has not altered itself drastically from last year's squad.

Last season, in 11 of 16 games for the Jags, opponents put up 20 or more points. Many of those games were road games for Jag opponents. Last season's early Bills squad put up 38. Offensively challenged teams such as Atlanta, San Diego, Baltimore, and Houston were among the teams that put up 20 or more. What does it say when this Bills team cannot put up more than 10, all courtesy of the defense, and more than only one team put up against Jacksonville all of last season?

The Bills are fortunate that the Jags did not have any semblance of a passing game otherwise the result of this game may have been drastically different with an even more pronounced win for the Jags. The Jags rushed four defensive linemen throughout most of this game and even when blitzes were utilized the handful of times that they were, they were usually easily spotted linebackers showing blitz on the line. What will this offense do when there are a variety of looks with blitzers coming out of nowhere. I suppose we will find out next week in Oakland.

Next week's game at Oakland is shaping up to be another offensive snoozer. The Bills offense has spoken for itself and the Raider offense appears to be lacking a ground game. Either way, fans looking for players on either team as fantasy point producers should probably plan on viewing another game. Heck, fans looking to remain sane had perhaps view a different game.


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