MMQB: Week 5

The Cardinals handed the Bills their first pummeling of the season on Sunday. It wasn't a pretty game for Buffalo, and Rich Pulvino explains why in this week's MMQB...

Quarterback: D+

A hard hit by Cardinals Safety Adrian Wilson knocked Trent Edwards out on the third play of the game with a concussion. In steps J.P. Losman, who immediately brought back old memories when he flubbed a handoff to Marshawn Lynch on his first play from scrimmage. Losman looked like he hadn't changed one bit. He stayed in the pocket far too long, resulting in sacks and a fumble. He panicked under pressure, and overthrew several passes-one resulted in an interception. A pretty 87-yard pass to Lee Evans, and a 2-yard touchdown run were the highlights of the day for the Bills. However, they were vastly overshadowed by horrific memories of the Losman days of old.

Running Back: C-

Marshawn Lynch broke one nice run on the day for 22 yards, and that was about all you heard from both him and Fred Jackson. Lynch only ran 13 times on the day. This was due to the fact that the Cardinals had such great ball control, and the Bills' offense rarely saw the field.

Wide Receivers: C+

The Bills receiving corps did fine on the day, if the ball ever reached them. Evans had an impressive 87-yard touchdown run and a nice 22-yard run on a reverse. Both Reed and Hardy caught some nice passes for 10+ yards, but they were underutilized on a day when they needed to come out firing on all cylinders.

Tight Ends: D

What a surprise…another invisible day from the quietest position on the team. The loudest noise made by the tight ends all day was Robert Royal's fumble in their own territory, resulting in more points for the Cardinals. To be fair, Dick Jauron should have challenged that play, but he didn't, and it cost them.

Offensive Line: D

It was definitely the O-line who was to blame for Losman's fumble on his first play of the game. The defensive line for the Cardinals bolted through them, untouched, to wreak havoc in the backfield throughout the game. They occasionally provided protection for Losman, but they couldn't open any holes for the run. The offense needed to come out strong today and the offensive line contributed in holding the Bills back.

Defensive Line: F

Pressure was not in the defensive line's vocabulary in this game. Schobel and Kelsey were not the fearsome ends they usually are, and that resulted in Kurt Warner having all day to pass. The D-line could not get to him if their lives depended on it. Both Edgerrin James and Tim Hightower had productive days on the ground, producing three touchdowns on the day, and running over the front four of the Bills. The Cardinals were 9 of 15 on third down conversions and a lot of those conversions were on running plays that this defensive line simply could not stop.

Linebackers: D

The linebackers just seemed confused all day. They didn't know if they should protect against the run or the pass, and it didn't really matter because they didn't do either. Once the coaching staff had the defense rushing only four players, the linebackers dropped back to the secondary and it didn't help one bit. Kurt Warner looked like the Kurt Warner of the Rams in this game. The high point of the day was probably Kawika Mitchell's big hit on Warner in the first half that resulted in a bloody chin. This only seemed to fuel Warner for the rest of the day.

Secondary: F

They were picked apart the entire day. They prevented nothing and stopped nothing. You know it's a bad game defensively when Jabari Greer and Donte Whitner are the tackle leaders. Larry Fitzgerald had an all-pro game against the Bills' secondary and did enough receiving for both him and Anquan Boldin, who was out because of injury. Kurt Warner had a great day and the Bills' secondary contributed by making no changes throughout the day. Zone and prevent defense does not have the most friendly history with this young secondary, and today proved that.

Special Teams: C-

A few nice returns by Leodis McKelvin and 48-yard field goal by Rian Lindell were the highlights of the day for the special teams. Moorman had only mediocre punts that resulted in touchbacks or nice field position for the Cardinals. An idiotic neutral-zone infraction by Justin Jenkins on a Cardinals field goal resulted in a first down for Arizona and an eventual touchdown: A perfect way to sum up the day for Bobby April's crew.

Coaching: F

There is no reason why Dick Jauron should have stayed with the zone and prevent defense throughout the game. Rushing the front four on Warner did absolutely nothing and the Bills were pretty much blitz-less the entire game. The conservative game calling resulted in the Cardinals taking full advantage of the Bills. Also, Jauron definitely should have challenged the Royal fumble. It was a very close call and might not have been overturned, but when your team is struggling that bad throughout the day, they need some kind of morale booster and that could have helped.

An impressive season up until this game for Jauron and his staff. No team is perfect and hopefully they will learn from the blunders made throughout the painful 60 minutes.

rpulvino@gmail.com


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