BillsZone's Report Card: Bills vs Vikings

Michael J Thomas hands out the classroom grades for the Buffalo Bills efforts this past Sunday

JP_Losman_10_1_06.jpgQuarterbacks: JP Losman had his best overall game of the season.  He made some good decisions with the ball, and didn't turn the ball over for his 3rd game of the season.  Losman finished the day completing 23/32 for 222 yards, with 1 touchdown and no interceptions.  He showed great poise out there and really took charge of the offense on a couple long, clock chewing drives.  He also used his mobility to get away from the pressure and had a nice 15-yard run on 2nd down and 10 during the first drive of the third quarter.  This drive resulted in a touchdown and basically kept the momentum on the Bills side.  Overall, it was a very good day for Losman.  He had many good throws, and a few not so good throws.  But again, he didn't turnover the ball.  So that's definitely a plus.  Basically, JP did a solid job managing the game.  Let's hope he can take some of that into Chicago next week.  Grade: A 

Running Backs: Willis McGahee did exactly what he was asked to do. He took the ball and ran hard against a stout Minnesota defensive line. McGahee finished the day with 28 carries for 78 yards and 1 touchdown, plus 1 catch for 4 yards. Yeah, he did struggle up the middle against Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, but he did keep at it. Plus, he finally got into the end zone with a nice leap over the defenders for the 1-yard touchdown. Willis also made some key blocks for JP Losman and gave him some extra time. Daimon Shelton did a decent job blocking, but was called for 2 penalties that hurt him and also saw less action as the Bills ran more single back sets. Overall, it was a pretty good full game by McGahee, but it would have been better if he had some more runs to the outside. The penalties on Shelton bring this grade down a bit. Grade: B-

Wide Receivers: Lee Evans is finally starting to show an ability to break from the double coverage. He led the team in receptions for the second consecutive game. Evans had 7 receptions for 90 yards. He showed some nice RAC ability when he took a couple short passes into big gains. Peerless Price was second with 5 receptions for 40 yards. One of those was a screen that Price caught and looked like he was going to be tackled, but he broke the tackle and flew by everyone for the 8-yard touchdown. Josh Reed was next on the list with 4 catches for 43 yards. He had another good game and continues to show people that he can catch the ball, making a sweet catch at the sideline, leaping in the air over Antoine Winfield and hauling it in for a 23-yard gain. Roscoe Parrish caught 3 passes for 25-yards, including one catch near the end of the game where he got levelled, but still held onto the ball. Overall, it was another good game for this unit. It's nice to see them all making some good plays. Grade: A-

Tight Ends: It was another boring day for this unit. Eventually they will find a way to get more involved in the passing game, but for now they are used for their blocking more. Robert Royal caught 1 pass for 13-yards, but he dropped an easy one too. Royal was also called for a penalty and gave up a sack on JP Losman. Kevin Everett finally caught a pass, but it was for only 1-yard. That was it. It wasn't a great day for this unit at all. Grade: C+

Offensive Line: The line continues to gell a bit more and is getting better at pass blocking. They gave JP Losman a fair amount of time and only allowed 3 sacks. Jason Peters did have two false start penalties, but luckily they didn't affect the drive too much as they still got a touchdown. They also struggled against a very stout Defensive tackle combination with Pat Williams and Kevin Williams. Willis McGahee only had 2.8 yards per carry and was shut down up the middle. For now it seems that when there is holes, they close pretty fast. Hopefully that will change soon. Grade: C+

Defensive Line: Aaron Schobel has now gone 3 games in a row without a sack. Then again the rest of the defensive line didn't get one either. They did put a lot of pressure on Brad Johnson though. That definitely helped. As for Schobel, he did a good job stopping the run and had 4 total tackles for the day and a couple hits on the QB. Chris Kelsay was in on 4 tackles and also had some hits and pressure on the quarterback. Ryan Denney had 2 tackles and put a lot of pressure on Johnson. He also batted down two passes, including one that he tipped and was intercepted by Angelo Crowell. Larry Tripplett was quiet with only 1 assist, but he did help clog the middle and put some pressure on the quarterback. Tim Anderson did a nice job stuffing the run and was in on 2 tackles. John McCargo had 1 tackle, but it was a nice one where he tackled Chester Taylor in the backfield for a 2-yard loss. Kyle Williams was pretty quiet again and kept off the stat sheet. Overall, it was a good day for this unit. It would have been better if they had a sack or two, but they did get enough pressure on Brad Johnson to force him to make mistakes and helped shut down the Vikings running game. Grade: B+

Linebackers: Angelo Crowell continues to shine and led the team in tackles with 10. He also had a sweet interception where he read the leaped in the air and caught the tipped pass. London Fletcher had 4 total tackles and also made a nice diving interception in the 4th quarter to help kill a Vikings drive. This made up for an earlier play where he was burned by Tony Richardson. Keith Ellison did a pretty good job too and continues to show how he was another good pick by Marv Levy. He finished the day with 3 tackles and had put some pressure on the quarterback too. Overall, it was another good day for this unit. They did a great job stopping the run and holding Chester Taylor to 23 yards on 10 carries. They also did pretty well on the pass too. Grade: A

Secondary: Nate Clements had a pretty good game and helped contain the Vikings offense. He had 4 tackles for the day, had a forced fumble and also broke up 3 passes. Terrence McGee started out strong and was also holding his receivers in check for most of the game. But he bit on a pump fake in the 4th quarter and gave up a 29-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Robinson. McGee also came close to giving up a long pass to Robinson at the end of the game, but luckily he dropped it. He finished the day with 5 tackles. Kiwaukee Thomas did a nice job in coverage and finished the day with 5 tackles. Donte Whitner had another solid day for the most part. He had 6 total tackles and broke up 1 pass. Whitner was also lucky that Robinson dropped the pass because he was late getting there. Ko Simpson was quiet and finished the day with 1 tackle. Overall, it was a pretty good day for this unit. If it wasn't for the last 4 minutes, they definitely would have gotten a higher grade. Grade: B

Special Teams: Brian Moorman struggled with the winds for the most part. He finished with an average of 37.7 yards on 7 punts, with a long of 68 yards. He wasn't the only one. Rian Lindell also struggled. He did make a 28-yarder, but he missed an ill-advised 44-yard field goal that was right into the wind. The coverage teams did a pretty good job, but did give up a long 16-yard return to Mewelde Moore on a punt. They also took too many unneccessary penalties. As for the return team, Roscoe Parrish just called for a fair catch each time because the wind was ugly. Terrence McGee had a low average of only 18.5 yards on 2 returns as he still has yet to break one. Overall, it was an off day for this unit. The wind really hurt both teams and for some reason, McGee is struggling at returning. Hopefully they can get that fixed soon. Also, props go to Kiwaukee Thomas for a heads up play by fielding the kickoff like it was an onsides kick. I still say that the referees screwed up with that call. Grade: C+

Coaching: Steve Fairchild had a solid game overall. He went back to what worked. Control the clock and not turnover the ball. He did a great job by running the ball 28 times with Willis McGahee, even when it wasn't working. He just kept pounding away and slowly moving the chains and letting the clock run. Only thing missing was a deep pass or two to help stretch the field and take some guys off the line. Perry Fewell did a nice job defending the Vikings. He shut down the running game and containing Brad Johnson for most of the game. I liked seeing him keep putting pressure on Johnson all the way til the end. Dick Jauron did a nice job preparing this team after the loss last week. It was nice seeing them hold on all the way to the end and never give up. The only thing I didn't agree with Jauron on was kicking the 44-yard field goal. The wind was terrible in that end zone and Lindell struggled with the winds earlier there. I would have rather gone for 4th down. Overall though, it was a well coached game. Let's see if they can take this momentum and use it to upset the powerful Chicago Bears team next week. Grade: B+

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