Bills Make Dolphins Look Like Chiefs

<B>In a Sentence: </B> <P> This was the Dolphins, ….right?!

Game Grades:

QB: A Humpty had all day in the pocket in this game for the most part. He also had a few "Humpty moments" or lapses into areas creating the usual gasps from fans. Interestingly the Dolphins rarely blitzed which again, I find perplexing. Throughout 2002 and 2003 teams essentially shut down the Bills offense by blitzing and showing varying defensive packages. This season teams rarely seem to blitz the Bills which has helped Humpty immensely.

He played exceptionally! Not unnoticed was his 50-yard on the fly pass on which he seemed to have given it all he had however, again, raising questions as to his arm strength. Nevertheless, four TDs accompanied by no INTs and beautiful TD passes to Evans twice, Euhus, and Moulds who did most of the work after-the-catch on that particular pass.

RB: C- One thought that popped up while watching this game was the notion that McGahee's directional delay that he exhibits upon getting the handoff is good, but he needs to execute it more quickly. His change-of-direction move often costs him too much time enabling quicker NFL defenders to stop him for no gain or a loss or only a yard or two.

McGahee should have had much better success running vs. the Dolphins especially with Thomas out. His one fumble cost the Bills at a key time with the Bills trailing by three and on the verge of cracking the red zone. He led the Bills to one of the lesser rushing performances allowed by the Dolphins this entire season. Considering that the Dolphin D was never more banged up than today, McGahee's performance was unimpressive.

Up until midway through the 4th quarter McGahee had 17 carries for 55 yards and 3.2 yards-per-carry. Neither of his two longest runs of the day helped the Bills to points. He rushed for only four first downs, only two of which were prior to midway through the 4th quarter. Two-thirds of McGahee's carries were on 1st down, a pattern that has developed with the Bills opting instead to go with Humpty on far more 2nd and 3rd down plays. On seven plays of 4 yards or less on 2nd and 3rd downs, the Bills attempted passes on four of the seven suggesting that perhaps they lack the confidence in McGahee to get the tough yards. This is a trend that has been present throughout the season.

WR: A+ The nicest pass of this season came in this game, the 69-yard TD toss from Humpty to Evans on a beautifully thrown pass to Evans who caught it in stride. Eric Moulds' 30-yarder in the 4th quarter with most of the yards after-the-catch was classic Moulds at his best powering his way into the end zone. Reed was the only other WR with a catch with two.

TE: B Euhus and Neufeld had solid games. Euhus had a critical holding penalty.

OL: C+ It gave Humpty plenty of time throughout the day, but consider the opponent's front-7 and depth situation. Run blocking was once again, not stellar.

DL: D+ Little pressure on Feeley by itself. What it did it did with help. A single sack on a day which more were expected and reasonably should have been made. Pat Williams batted pass, interception, and TD was the DL highlight of the day. When you allow the 2004 Dolphins over 400 net yards, it hasn't been a good day for the D.

LB: D+ Spikes an INT. Otherwise not great.

DB: D Again, the INTs were there, but mostly due to Feeley and with little else.

Coaching: D+ The special teams is saving this new coaching staff from criticism which would otherwise befall them. The bottom line is that the Bills allowed arguably the worst offense in the league on a team with issues falling out of their pockets to remain in this game until the final two-minute warning. It allowed that same Dolphin team to experience their most successful and productive offensive performance to date. It could not establish the run overall with any effect. Yes, it was a win, but against whom? Nobody! Certainly the furthest thing from a playoff caliber team in the AFC.

Overall: C- Far too many points allowed vs. a very weak, depleted, and usually ineffective Miami offense en route to ushering them to a record day point wise on the season. This game was as close to being lost as it was won. It was not over until the final two-minute warning following Pat Williams' INT and TD. The opponent must be considered in the analysis.

Offense: B+ Humpty did everything! McGahee was a non-factor with the exception of only a few carries, and once again just like last week, only late in the game. The Bills had one of the worst rushing games that the Dolphins have allowed on the season and for the first time they were without Zach Thomas heaping further shame on the Bills' inability to get this rushing game going. The Dolphins had been allowing an average near 140 yards-per-game prior to Thomas, easily their leading tackler and run defender, getting injured. For the life of me, I cannot imagine Travis Henry not having had a much better game under identical circumstances just as he has numerous times in the past.

Humpty was on fire however. It should be no big surprise. What also is no big surprise is that Humpty never plays as he did in this game in the playoffs, and rarely vs. the top teams in the league.

Once again however, the special teams scored 7, the defense scored 7, and the defense set up 14 from field position well inside Miami territory. The Bills offense put up only 14 of the team's 42 points from field position starting within its own half of the field. It did not move the ball well overall.

Defense: F Just checking, this was the Dolphins, right?! The massively offensively challenged Dolphins?

The defense allowed the Miami Dolphins, you know, the team whose coach just quit, the one that had Ricky Williams decide that he'd rather quit his team and go smoke dope than play football, the one whose biggest free agent move, David Boston, injured himself for the season, the team that just played minus its defensive star Zach Thomas for the first time, the team that can't score, can't win, is the worst team easily in the AFC, the team whose injury list is fast approaching looking as long as a roster to a commencement ceremony for a class-C high school graduation in Upstate NY, to score 32 points, the most that it has scored all season long led by QB AJ Feeley and RB Travis Minor.

With the defense often rushing five or six defenders, AJ Feeley had more than enough time to light the Bills up for over 300 passing yards and carry the Dolphins to a 32-point offensive performance. The defense can consider itself very fortunate that the Dolphins made many poor throws and mistakes costing them turnovers. Travis Minor had a better, more productive, and more efficient day vs. a top five defense than did Willis McGahee vs. one of the league's worst. A Dolphin offensive line and backfield blocked a defense that they should have had immensely more trouble with. Sure, they had 7 takeaways, but even most of those had to do with poor play or risky play-from-behind unforced by the Dolphin offense and dicey and risky passes by Feeley than anything else.

‘Nuff said.

Special Teams: A- Just about any game that sets the offense up for scores and whereby the special teams scores a touchdown itself is going to draw an ‘A' grade. Without the special teams' kickoff return for a TD by Terrence McGee, the Bills likely would have lost this game as it would have altered the fabric of the game as well as how the Dolphins played risky offense late because they were down. The special teams TD was pivotal in winning this game as was Pat Williams' defensive TD. Without them the Bills would not have won this game.

Punt returns were nothing. Lindell missed a 38-yard field goal. Moorman played well.

The Good:

The Bills put up 42 points.

The special teams and defense each scored touchdowns.

Humpty had a great game.

Interceptions by Clements, McGee, Baker, Spikes, and Williams.

McGee TD kickoff return.

Pat Williams heads-up batted pass, INT, and TD return all on one play and executed like a running back it could be added with a nice spin move on the runback.

The Bad:

This was Miami, not New England!

Once again it was the defense and special teams either directly scoring 14 points or setting up 14 points accounting for two-thirds of the 42 points put on the board by the Bills.

3-of-13 on 3rd-down-conversions.

Of 16 drives, the Bills only had three of more than 45 net yards. Ten went for 15 or fewer yards.

Miami outgained the Bills offensively in net yardage, 403 to 362.

The Bills defensive line could not pressure Feeley on its own and generated only a single sack on the game.

The Bills could not dominate time-of-possession vs. the Dolphins.

The Bills running game was not potent vs. a defense against which it should have had absolutely no trouble dominating on the ground in spades.

Only 16 first downs, only 4 rushing first downs.

The Bills offense thrived on big-plays, not solid, sustained offense. The four offensive TDs were on passes of 15, 21, 30, and 69 yards. Two of those drives were set up at the Miami 34 and 41-yard lines by defensive interceptions.

Summary:

The Bills add the 2-10 Dolphins to the dossier of "powerhouse teams" that they have beaten en route to a "house-of-cards" 6-6 record and justification for continued failed methodologies for rebuilding. The Bills can thank A.J. Feeley for this win. His pre-Christmas generosity is what allowed for a Bills win.

Once again, the Bills defense and special teams paved the way for 28 of 42 Bills points. The Bills offense did not exactly "take control" in a game in which it should easily have been able to do so given all the hype in recent weeks. It was still the defense and special teams doing much of the offense's work for them without many long, sustained drives by the offense. Only two Bills drives consumed more than 2-and-a-half minutes with 5:04 being the longest.

When was this game over? At the final two-minute warning following Pat William laughter inducing interception, spin move, and sweep into the end zone ala Jerome Bettis to finally put this game vs. the worst team in the AFC away. Outstanding play Pat!!!

When should this game have been over? At the half, no later! That is if the Bills are in fact a playoff caliber team.

My Take:

The game was entertaining. There are however two ways to look at the Bills throughout the remainder of the season. First, one can look at them and see if based on one of the easiest schedules in recent history, the Bills can weasel their way into the playoffs, which will almost assuredly not happen by-the-way, and hope for the best this season when everything suggests, just as it has throughout the Commander Tom-Humpty era, that this team simply is not ready to compete "vs. the big boys." Or, one can sit back, look at the big picture, and hope that the Bills do the best for next season in order to position themselves down the road following the imminent offseason changes forthcoming.

Likely they won't make decisions based on the future and will require yet another year of rebuilding, but, especially regarding JP Losman, it will take a season to get the requisite experience under his belt before this team is able to compete effectively in the playoffs. Realizing the smokescreen being laid out thus far this season as the effect of a team with a ridiculously easy schedule as it's panned out, my focus is on next season and hoping that this team is moving in the right direction. At this point it is likely too late for Losman to acquire any meaningful playing time heading into next season. Meanwhile, there is absolutely nothing suggestive that should the Bills, by some bizarre stroke of fate, even make the playoffs, that they would even have a shot at a single win in them.

What frightens me and depresses me, as a Bills fan, more and more about the way this season is shaping up is how the announcers to recent games, the national level media, and even some more regional and local sources are mentioning a "Humpty resurgence." For the humpteenth, …..pardon me….., the umpteenth time. Today's game for Humpty is normal, not some sort of megagame or upward trend. Humpty, for nearly every season of his career, will pull out games like this vs. exactly the type of teams that Miami is. HELLO! Miami is the only team in the league challenging the Forty Niners for the "honor" of being the worst team in the entire league.

Humpty had a great game, no question! He carried the offense in fact. But it was MIAMI! It is almost as if the goals of this team at times are to prove their personnel decisions vice do what is in the best interests of the team moving forward. If this game had been vs. New England, or Baltimore, or any one of the decent teams on the schedule this season, then perhaps all the Humpty hoopla might even make an inkling of sense. Then again, he likely would have faced more blitzes and definitely better defenses and not have played as he did.

To read some of the things being said about Humtpy is puzzling. Considering for even a moment that Humpty may be the quarterback of the Bills next season is depressing as well as bewildering given that a first round draft selection who's shown nothing but promise when he's been on the field, primarily in preseason, is on the bench. THIS JUST IN; Humpty usually has several games per season where he plays like this. In fact, this season is absolutely no different than others in recent history regarding Humpty.

Anyone thinking that this is a playoff caliber team is mistaken. This game was absolutely nothing of the sort The Bills allowed the Dolphins, the Dolphins to reiterate, to have a huge offensive day and remain in the game throughout most of the 4th quarter. Had it not been for the erratic and risky play of a young backup QB, the Bills would have lost this game.

From Willis McGahee, what I am looking for is that first game, along with a trend, in the direction that he can carry the game for the Bills from a running back perspective and offensively. I am looking for the running back that Henry's been in 2002 and 2003 whereby he carried entire games offensively on his back, often with a broken leg. I am simply not seeing it at this point.

Next week's "Roller Coaster Ride to Nowhere" features hapless Cleveland coming to Buffalo. Which chocolate gets drawn from the "box of chocolates" next week should be interesting as well. Make no mistake, the second half of the Bills schedule has featured undercard talent, nothing resembling the best in the NFL for the most part.

Comments: mweiler.billsreport@cox.net


Buffalo Football Report Top Stories