Bledsoe and Bills' Offense Offend

<B>In a Sentence: </B> <P> It is a very good thing that this was not a home game.

Game Grades:

QB: F What more can be said. It was a mistake to sign Bledsoe to begin with. On the heels of that the mantra was ‘that if he doesn't improve over his play of the last few seasons prior to his initial signing then the team could release him "no strings".' He didn't improve, they held onto him. Then they had the option of releasing him and freeing up a very much needed $8 million, clean. Eight million goes a L-O-N-G way towards getting offensive line help! They instead chose to increase the minimal cap hit required to release him following this season and push over $4 million of it of into next season pending his release following this season to boot. Great management, eh!

This offense is sickeningly stagnant and stymied exactly because we have a quarterback whereby you have two options: Minimize his downside and don't be able to count on him to lead your team to anything more than what is now the league's sickest and most pathetic offense; OR, and this one is even better, allow him to do something and sit back and enjoy games such as the Ravens game today. Ol' Whitey and the coaches need to admit this grave mistake and gross miscalculation and move on! There is simply nothing else to say. To think that Bledsoe is even capable of leading his team through a playoff string is silly, remiss, and insulting to anyone who knows and understands football.

RB: B- Neither running back outplayed the other. Collectively Henry and McGahee averaged 3.7 yards-per-carry with McGahee averaging 3.6 and Henry averaging 3.9, both putting up 85 yards collectively and unable to find the endzone in this game. Both McGahee and the fans ready to discard Henry found out that the lack of rushing production is not simply a matter of McGahee over Henry, but the fault of a very below average offensive line. Both have their strengths, neither is the consummate running back at this point by any stretch. I will point this out however, that through six games this season, five actually, Henry has yet to fumble. McGahee instead of simply rushing ahead after getting the ball on a few occasions took too long to pick his holes costing the Bills yardage. He also had the bigger holes to run through. The stutter step can be good, but not when it forces detrimental hesitation. Something that needs work. Yet, once again, these guys provided the crux of the offense and certainly the positive part of it.

WR: C Moulds had some good grabs and at least two key drops. Reed played OK and Aiken had the only other catch for a WR. Most of Bledsoe's throws, even the caught balls were high, wide behind, and anywhere but right on target with few exceptions. Anyone truly believing that he has any arm strength left, his virtual sole asset, should rerun this game five times or until they say "enough, Weiler's right, Bledsoe's arm strength is questionable at best."

TE: C- Mark Campbell had one key catch. Blocking was not outstanding by the TEs.

OL: D+ Run blocking was poor. Pass blocking was average, oddly, due more to the offensive scheme keeping more blockers in often than due to solid OL play. Mike Williams' false start penalty on the first drive on 2nd-and-goal at the four-yard line perhaps cost the Bills a touchdown vice only a field goal on the first drive. On the first Bledsoe fumble beginning the string of maladies on the next four drives, Terrell Suggs ran right around Williams en route to Bledsoe to force the fumble on his non-blind side on a simple four-man pass rush with McGahee left back to block. McGahee assisted with the RDE.

DL: C+ Again, just like last week, in the 2nd half the DL played exceptionally well. But in the first half they were pushed around. The second half was an A, but the first half was a D-minus. Williams and Adams were relatively quiet. Already slowing down on the season??

LB: B Spikes came to play but still, other than a few good, solid hits, did little in the way of big plays. Don't get me wrong, a big vicious tackle is great, but its end result is still simply a typical tackle on the books. Fletcher was solid but had a bad roughing the passer penalty cost the Bills a successful 3rd-down incompletion and ultimately allowing the Ravens to tie the game at three. Posey was his usual hyperactive self, flying all over the field yet not being particularly effective per se. Again, he looks great doing it, but on the books "effort" doesn't count, results do. He did have a nice fumble recovery of Schobel's forced fumble early on for the only turnover of the game.

DB: B- McGee had the best day of all defensive backs. Reese had some spots of poor play/tackling. Milloy was back but did not do anything spectacular. Clements was unheard from which is possibly a good thing.

ST: C- Nothin' special, nothin' costly, but a below average day on the whole.

Coaching: D The staff must now fully realize that they cannot count on Bledsoe for anything other than very nominal offensive production in the event that they shelter their prized QB from harming himself and the team. If they need to rely on him to assist in winning games, the staff just got a world class clinic on what a few of us have been attempting to warn them about. In spite of some very questionable decision making by Brian Billick given the considerations of this game during its unfolding, good coaching would have capitalized on that. Yet it did not.

The Ravens inadvertently gave the Bills ample opportunities to remain in this game. Mistakes in the form of penalty errors were mitigated but not eliminated. Offensive production was the absolute worst that it has been all season. Five turnovers, all from Bledsoe, and another fumble by him not lost, are inexcusable. Time to move on fellas! Defensive performance was only on for a half.

The Good:

The ticket that I purchased to this game was a club level ticket and only cost me $30.

The hot dog with sauerkraut that I had at the half was above average.

The restrooms in the club level were clean.

I found a good parking spot easy to leave the area just outside the stadium on the street that was free.

Oh, and I almost forgot, it stopped raining just prior to the game starting. The Raven fans around me were very nice too.

The Bad:

The hot dog that I purchased at the half cost $5.

Doing these post-game reviews is becoming tediously repetitious to the extent that it is usually a simple matter of some cut and paste. I should probably simply write the rest right now and call it a season.

Once again, neither unit showed up in the first half.

The Bills had 68 yards of net offense in the first half.

The defense allowed this ridiculously talent depleted Raven O to amass 143 net yards and 10 points in the first half.

The Ravens' Chester Taylor outrushed the Bills' Henry and McGahee combined.

The defense generated absolutely no interceptions against one of the worst quarterbacks in the league with few weapons at his disposal due to the injury to Heap and Lewis' suspension. Heap and Lewis led the Ravens last season in receiving and rushing yardage respectively.

The only points in the first half, and half of the Bills total scoring production on the game, came on a field goal set up by the defense forcing the sole Raven turnover of the game on the second play of the game at the Raven 22-yard line and already well within field goal range.

With the Bills trailing by 11 during the stretch of the game where the money was on the line, in the last five drives of the game for the Bills, the first ended on a Bledsoe fumble, three straight interceptions, and a Bledsoe incompletion to cap it all off.

Seven of the Ravens' points came off of a Bledsoe interception in the first half.

The Bills were 5-of-15 on 3rd-down conversions.

The Bills were 0-for-4 in red zone efficiency.

The Bills were 0-for-3 in goal-to-go efficiency.

Summary:

Y-A-W-N!!!

While many will rave about yet another great defensive effort, the truth of the matter is that just like last week, the defense only showed up for a half. During the first half the defense, against a Kyle Boller-led, Lewis and Heap depleted offense, with not a name to mention other than on the offensive line, the defense allowed 143 net yards and 10 offensive points. Not good. They played well in the 2nd half, but by then the Bills were coming from behind, a recipe for disaster on any Bledsoe led team vs. anything above an average defense.

The offense stunk in spades led by Bledsoe. It is high time for the coaching staff to simply admit that they were incorrect on him and move on. Counter to Coach Wyche's statements that Bledsoe is among Montana and Esiason, the truth is that Bledsoe is nearly the antithesis of Montana. This team does not have either the line or quarterback to be anything short of among the bottom 20% of offensive teams in the league.

Five turnovers, all by Bledsoe, absolutely destroyed the Bills chances in this game. I will not rate this defense as solid until such a time as they do not allow teams like Miami and Baltimore, other than Buffalo, and given the circumstances at the time the Bills played each, are the two worst teams in the league offensively, to run rampant for an entire half making them look well above average if even for a half.

To date the Bills, you know, the team with the "power running game", still do not have a rushing touchdown on the season!

The Bills offense is now averaging 10.5 points-per-game with much of that having been set up by the defense or special teams. The team as a whole is averaging just under 13. Hint: This is not an improvement over last year. It is a regression; a serious one. Especially given that just about everything done in the offseason was done to correct this!

What does this mean? It means that Ol' Whitey/Commander Tom and the coaching staff have failed thus far! They have failed in their assessments of the state of this team. They have failed, direly, in their assessments of Drew Bledsoe. They have failed in their attempts to "resurrect" him and put Humpty back together again. They have failed in their assessments as to what this offensive line was missing, namely talent. They have failed to produce the power running game that they insisted this team would bring to the table and which would lead this team's offense. They have failed to produce a team capable of outscoring last season's embarrassingly stale and pathetic offense in spite of having a virtual carte blanche to correct it. They have even failed in providing any consistent improvement as the season has gone on apparently regressing, not improving at all. How Commander Tom can be left on in any capacity after this season is beyond simple reason, common sense, and understanding!

All of a sudden Williams and Gilbride do not look so bad. I warned of blaming the entire malady on simple coaching changes, especially ones employing very inexperienced coaches. Something "big" needs to be done following the season or the Bills are going to have a real problem in finding players to play in Buffalo over the next few seasons and fans will lose interest. "Something big" does not include the release of Bledsoe. That is expected at this point. It is bad enough that the Bills under Commander Tom's guidance have now needlessly pushed nearly $4.5 million cap hit into next season simply to take the chance of putting Humpty back together again after what now, five, six seasons of sheer and utter mediocrity. Unbelievable is the word that comes to mind, again, and again, and again…

My Take:

After halftime I was hoping that the Ravens stadium crew had a Broadway style production of "Heidi" ready to roll into the arena consuming the second hour-and-a-half of the "game." Alas, no such luck. I was forced to watch the second half instead.

Baltimore's defense is good but it is not that good. In fact while at the game I was astonished at how much unlike their D of just two seasons ago this defense was. Perhaps it was just yesterday, but nonetheless. Ravens fans around me assured me that it was a real regression.

If there is anymore support for Bledsoe I simply have no idea why or where it's coming from. The words "delusion" and "denial" leap to the forefront of my mind should there be anymore support for him other than to encourage him to inquire as to the interests in him by other teams. It's a real shame too that the trade deadline has passed. The Bills likely could have traded Drew for another bench heater given that November and December are fast approaching. The restructuring of his contract now only serves to hinder the efforts of this team going forward.

Absolutely nobody can convince me that this is not a lockerroom problem and enormous team morale issue at this point.

This Bills team is exactly where I had them after 6 games, namely 1-5. They presently hold the honors for fewest points scored on the season either as a team or offensively of all 32 teams in the league. When one considers that everything that was done in the offseason to improve this team was done on the offensive side of the ball it is indeed embarrassing. Even worse is that what should have been some easier games on the schedule has now turned into a schedule that the Bills do not have the luxury of overlooking even Arizona next week.

The Bills' team leader of this game was Ray Lewis! According to transcripts of post game comments Willis McGahee was quoted as saying about Lewis: "When he tackled me, he kept saying ‘get up, come on, come on'. He kept pushing me, telling me to ‘get up dog, don't lay there – just keep going, work harder.' Ray, please come coach for us!!!

Even Miami vs. the Rams put up more offensive points today than the Bills have in their two best offensive performances to date combined! The Dolphins rushing game outperformed the Bills rushing game today. Jay Fiedler posted a better game than Bledsoe has posted in any game all season even.

The Bills have what should have been a minor break, but will now translate into two struggling must-win games vs. the Arizona Cardinals and the Jets both at home over the next two weeks. "Must-win" in the sense that if they lose to Arizona, then Commander Tom can expect to see his efforts at filling the seats begin to unravel. The Brown and Steeler games will then amount to home games for those two teams. Following those two games, Arizona and Jets, the Bills face five of their eight remaining opponents on the road and a tough string of offensive opponents to finish out the season. They no longer have the luxury of facing the league's cupcake offensive teams.

The Bills are very much in the running to be the absolute worst team in the league with the quasi-resurgence of the Dolphins. If the Bills cannot post wins against the Cardinals and Jets at home, then a 2-14 or 3-13 season will approach a strong likelihood. If they cannot defeat Miami in Miami, and at this point there should be little doubt that Miami would be favored if the game were next week, then they run a real risk of finishing the season 1-15. I don't expect that as I am expecting 3-13 or 4-12 at this point simply not believing that 1-15 is a real possibility. It is almost a surreal thought.

There is little to say about this team anymore. Covering these games has become routine watching them makes my eyes bleed and causes immense intellectual and emotional trauma. The issues are identical from week to week. The defense rarely plays more than a solid half of play. They only manage to play well against one-dimensional teams offensively speaking. The remaining teams on the schedule by-and-large have far more explosive offenses as well. The offense rarely shows up at all.

The self assessments of this team by Ol' Whitey (aka Commander Tom) and the coaches is so far off that simply admitting their mistakes and moving on to begin rebuilding this team is the best course of action. More than likely they will maintain their "until we are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs ….." yadda-yadda position, but to their own detriment at this point. This team needs to begin playing with next season in consideration if they expect continued fan support both this season as well as next.

McGee should start at CB the rest of the season.
Vincent should slide over and start at Free Safety as a result.
McGahee should get most of the carries going forward and start. Not that Henry is worse, he's not. But the team needs to assess McGahee's value and durability.
Tim Anderson should start at DT at the first opportunity.
Edwards should start opposite him.
Losman needs to replace Bledsoe ASAP, as if this is not glaringly obvious. Heck, put Matthews in next week. Maybe Billy Joe Hobert is available. I'm willing to risk that his playbook deficient streetball approach may outproduce Bledsoe.

There is little else this team can do at this point to assist in their efforts moving forward however. Getting the younger players on this team some playing time is key however. But this first entails the front office and staff shedding this ridiculous state of denial on their own assessments of this team. Owner Ralph Wilson had better be prepared with a stack of pink slips following this season. Barring an 8-2 finish, how can he not! The one on the top should have Donahoe's name on it already and should be tacked to his bulletin board. If he fails to do this, he is risking much with this team and the good will of the fans, which have long supported the Bills as they watch their team fade into the ranks of the unwatchable. How much less will players want to come to Buffalo. They can either heed the writing on the wall now or drive this franchise further into the ground. Without massive changes somewhere beginning at the top, fans and media are beginning to witness the onset of exactly that unfolding.

To sum up: "He's dead Jim!"

To discuss this article or other issues on the Bills, Tune into "The 2004 Bills Report" which can be heard live on Thursday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. over the Internet at www.broadcastmonsters.com. Call into the show live at 1-877-913-9739.

Comments: mweiler.billsreport@cox.net


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