Bills O Continues to Sleep In!

<P> <B>In a sentence: </B> <P> When you lose two games with your defense holding your opponents to 13 points apiece, it makes a very strong statement as to how bad your offense is.

Game Grades:

QB: F Bledsoe showed nothing.

RB: C+ Henry ran fairly against a tough Raider rushing defense without much help.

WR: C- Too many dropped balls although many were Bledsoe's fault.

TE: C For lack of much to evaluate them on.

OL: D Did not show up when it had to. Gave Bledsoe more than ample time at times.

ST: C- Below average.

DL: C- Still can't generate a pass rush without help.

LB: B Fletcher had the best game of the three here. Spikes, Posey were somewhat quiet.

DB: D- Got eaten alive by a team with no rushing game to warrant a concern.

Coaching: D Talk doesn't match action. Far too many trick plays. Poor fundamentals. Too many critical penalties. "Money men" are not stepping up.

The Bills are on pace for 160 points this season, certainly no deviation over their performance over the last fourteen games of last season. They will probably end up with more. But if this continues, then the Bills will be among the worst scoring offenses in the history of the NFL. In fact, thus far, the team and the offense have both averaged less than the pathetic outputs of last season. In fact, to put this into some sort of perspective, only three teams over the last ten seasons have scored fewer than 200 points. The closest ones to the 160 above would be the 1998 Eagles (161) and the 2000 Browns (161).

The differences: The Bills have a star-studded cast of skill position players, at least on paper. The Eagles in '98 had Koy Detmer, Rodney Peete, and Bobby Hoying throwing to Jeff Graham and washed up Irving Fryer with Duce Staley running the ball in his first season as a starter. The Browns in '00 had Tim Couch and Doug Pederson slinging to Kevin Johnson and Dennis Northcutt with Travis Prentice haulin' the cargo on the ground for them.

What a painfully boring and terrible game to have to watch. I had better things to do with my time such as take a nap, catching up on some laundry, or putting a fresh coat of coal tar on the driveway. Heck, I think it would have been better just having been tarred and feathered.

It would appear that my prediction as to Bledsoe getting booed out of the city during the Patriot game in two weeks appears to be right on schedule. If he can make it through that game without tossing two or three interceptions then it will be half a miracle given the way he's played now for several seasons. The Patriots sacked Josh McCown five times and intercepted him twice. Bledsoe should meet a similar fate.

What fans are now witnessing is the culmination of the "Donahoe Methodology" which arrogantly snubs all tenets of NFL wisdom, reason, and common sense. Drew Bledsoe at quarterback and a weak offensive line are the problems of this team. Tom Donahoe in his infinite wisdom insisted that neither was an issue and has done nothing for "plans B" regarding either. The new coaching staff, loath to offend Donahoe apparently or perhaps hired exactly because they wouldn't in Donahoe's control-oriented management approach, bought into this to their detriment now, again, not unpredictably.

The Good:

There really was not a lot of good associated with this game. Nevertheless….

Once again the Bills allowed only 13 offensive points, enough for just about all teams in the NFL to walk away winners.

The defensive line once again played well albeit vs. an anemic rushing attack. Their first big test will come vs. the Patriots who bring the first balanced offense that the Bills have seen to the Ralph in two weeks. They bring Corey Dillon who had 158 rushing yards this week. Even last season, the Bills defense did not play well against the one well-balanced offensive team that they played all of last season. Fans will remember a painful 38-5 drubbing at the hands of the Chiefs. The difference between the Chiefs and Pats; the Pats have a defense.

Sure, there were a couple of big plays but they all had mitigating circumstances associated with them rendering them to one-time occurrences barring other teams making similar blunders. Either way, as I've said all along, big plays are no way to win games on a consistent basis. Good solid football predicates itself on steady movement of the football down the field in a ball control type of approach.

The Bad:

It is quite apparent now after watching this game that teams no longer fear Bledsoe and that worse yet, they do not even respect him anymore.

Other than Brian Moorman's pass to Kevin Thomas on a blown assignment, the Bills' offense in the first half amassed, and I use the word very loosely, 37 net yards of offense.

The Bills rushing game netted only 2.8 yards-per-carry. Oh, excuse me, the power running game netted only 2.8 yards-per-carry. Pardon me! As well, for the second straight week it failed to produce a touchdown.

In two games now, the total number of points that the Bills offense has produced other than the defense setting them up in the red zone, and then only with a blown assignment, or vs. a prevent defense with sloppy and negligent coverage, is three (3).

Drew Bledsoe does not even appear to attempt to make a play anymore once he realizes that pass pressure is heading his way. He routinely seems to cringe prematurely in anticipation of the hits/sacks and prepare himself for the onslaught/impact implying that he is incapable of doing so. As if there need to be any more signs, this is a very clear sign that he is more of a liability than asset at this point and someone incapable of providing the leadership that is necessary at the QB position. Just throw this one on top of the pile! In contrast to other QBs in this league, among which was Gannon in this game, the contrast is not only alarming, but terminally problematic.

Red Zone efficiency was 1-for-3 (33%)

Goal-to-go efficiency was 1-for-2 (50%)

The Raider passing game shredded a seemingly very solid Bills secondary. "Troy Vincent, white courtesy phone!"

The Bills had only two sacks and generated absolutely no takeaways vs. a team with a QB who's nearly 39 years old and one that had an anemic rushing game.

This team has been advertised as being predicated on the power running game yet it does not have an offensive line capable of "moving the pile" when absolutely necessary. In this case on a 4th-and-goal. This team is unable to generate a consistent rushing game let alone pull of any big plays at all.

The Bills, almost as if admitting desperation, are going to the well for trick plays too often and against teams that quite frankly, it should not be necessary.

It would appear that the coaching staff has bitten off quite a bit more than it can chew regarding "fixing Bledsoe." Let's just hope that they make the proper decision for the team over the next few weeks when it is as plain as the stadium in Orchard Park that Bledsoe is finished as a starter in this league.

Few, if any, of the Bills big money marquee players acquired by Tom Donahoe are putting forth their "money's worth!"

Other than on the very last drive on a 4th-and-18 and in sheer and utter desperation mode vs. a prevent defense, the Bills offense managed only 181 net yards through just over 57 minutes worth of playing time versus a very good but by no means top defense.

Bledsoe was sacked 7 times resulting in 46 lost yards and nearly threw several other interceptions.

The Miami Dolphins, for all the laughing that Bills fans have done over their plight regarding Williams and the anemic offense that it has left them, have put up more points on the merits of their offense and an equal number overall than the Bills have! HELLO!!!

While the penalties did not total a lot of yards, two negated enormous returns, and most of them significantly stunted the progress of the offense.

On at least one play on defense, the Bills showed five pass rushers at the line. Upon the snap, two dropped back into pass coverage leaving three pass rushers. One of those that dropped off was Aaron Schobel. Now why, why oh why, would the call be to drop the team's most prolific pass rusher into coverage and away from the pass rush!

Summary:

Greg Williams and Kevin Gilbride were driven out of town under the premises that any idiot could do a better job. Mike Mularkey and Tom Clements are now fighting a completely uphill battle after drinking the front office kool aid that GM Tom Donahoe has served to them as the nectar of the gods. What Mularkey and Clements now do to distinguish themselves from Donahoe may very well set the tone of the next couple of years of their early careers as coaches at this level respectively. Those decisions could very possibly have far more reaching consequences as well. They certainly will impact what happens to the Bills.

It is becoming increasingly clearer that GM Tom Donahoe knows very little about what it takes to build a winning franchise. The next several games will reveal more, but the defenses tighten up and the next three games are divisional games with the fourth being in Baltimore. If the Bills can average more than the 10 points-per-game that they have against Jacksonville and Oakland, it will indeed be a good thing. Frankly, it will be a minor miracle if the offense under Bledsoe manages to score more than a touchdown or two in those four games combined.

My take:

I had a feeling that the Bills were in trouble in this game when during the week I read the comments by Bledsoe about playing in Oakland. All that came to mind was "please tell me there are other thoughts in that head of his than ‘what it's like to play in Oakland'." Bledsoe's focus seems to be somewhere else. Indeed it was somewhere else while he was on the field.

This is a team laden with coaching issues already early in the careers of Mularkey and Clements. It is a team with a sub-adequate offensive line and one with no depth there. It is a team incapable of a substantial pass rush other than when blitzing. It is a team with an overrated pass defense. It is a team that has decided, from the top and supported by the new young coaches, that to attempt to salvage the career of a problematic quarterback was higher in priority than moving this team, as a team, forward.

This is not a good situation for this team, its fans, or the young coaches.

As predicted, it would appear that Mike Mularkey's first big decision will be yanking Bledsoe in favor of whomever may take his place over the next week or two. Not that this will necessarily improve the team, but it certainly cannot hurt. Matthews is no solution having watched him in Washington under Spurrier. I am firmly of the opinion that Tom Donahoe did not want a quality veteran in Buffalo so as not to spur on the replacement of Drew any more hastily than he wanted. As such, the Bills have none.

Losman should see playing time later in the second half after he's ready to go from a physical standpoint. This will hasten his development beginning next season and give the team an indication whether his earlier injury was a fluke or whether he is injury prone.

Fans are right to be miffed and their eyes have not deceived them. Bledsoe has not played well in years and it cannot be more apparent that he is too slow, does not process what's unfolding before him rapidly enough, and is simply incapable of playing well unless given far more time than is ordinarily afforded to most QBs in this league. Either way, he certainly is not going to get the kind of time that he needs behind any line that the Bills can put up this season. Either way, continuing to try and force a square peg into a round hole is futile.

It would be one thing if Bledsoe when given time could hit his receivers in the numbers with regularity. But he has picked up right where he left off last season with inaccurate throws. Even in this game he often had plenty of time yet his passes were in receivers' shins, behind them against momentum, two feet over their heads, etc. Bledsoe is a liability due to the fact that he does not possess a good short game either mentally or physically.

Pending the outcome of the Pats game in two weeks following a bye week, Mularkey not pulling Bledsoe should his performance be less than stellar in that game, would risk his adding insult to injury. Mularkey and Clements now have an extremely uphill battle to face. The only thing that can possibly make it worse is their insistence to assist in defending Donahoe by continuing to attempt to force Bledsoe's resurrection. The task is an impossible one however.

Thanks to GM Tom Donahoe, this team is now closer to becoming the Bengals of the new decade instead of moving closer to competitiveness. It is also dangerously close to coming full circle under him as several key/marquee players will be in the "overpaid" category next season.

It would appear that Takeo Spikes changed teams at the wrong juncture. In fact, the offense appears to be moving significantly further away from competitiveness. At present, the Bills will be fortunate indeed to win a single game over the next four. Certainly the Patriot home and Ravens road game are sure to end in losses.

The Patriot game will be a loss. There is little hope for that game. The Pats seek to tie a winning streak in that game, but the Bills will not be the team to halt it.

Belichick will not be outcoached by the rookie Mularkey, nor will Bledsoe outperform Brady, nor will the Bills' D outperform the Pats' D. In fact, a good strategy for that game may well be to "keep it simple stupid" as the adage goes. Too many trick plays and fanciness will only swing around and hit the Bills on the tailside vs. the Pats. The Bills can begin to look past New England and figure out how they are going to beat the seemingly powerful Jets in the Meadowlands.

Barring some sort of ridiculous and completely improbable turnaround this season, certainly one that isn't likely to unfold over the next four games, this is very clearly a team headed for the basement in the AFC East and one that will be fortunate indeed if it can even attain the 6-10 that it was last season let alone improve on that mark. Those having followed my columns realize that my expectations were not high, but this is worse than even I had anticipated.

If the season does not improve in this manner, then Tom Donahoe's efforts will have met with resounding failure and his retention into his fifth and last contract season would be inconceivable. It would be remiss not to let Donahoe go a year prematurely under such circumstances. Such negligent team management cannot be rewarded with allowing him yet a fifth season whereby he would likely take even greater risks in a conflict of interests in attempting to salvage his career and credibility at the expense of team welfare going forward.

Comments: mweiler.billsreport@cox.net


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