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Extra Point: Bills rebound for win in opener

September 17, 2012

You might say that Bills fans still have no clue what their team is capable of. Seven days after a no-show, blowout loss to the Jets, the Bills rolled up a number of big plays and trounced Kansas City 35-17. Which team will show up for the rest of the season remains to be seen.

Buffalo hitched their wagon to C.J. Spiller and let him carry the load and he did a fine job. Spiller scored two of Buffalo’s first half touchdowns and was a major player on the drive that led to the third. In all, Spiller accounted for 170 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, the Bills defense looked more like the unit most were expecting to see this season.

Yesterday’s win was very much a mirror image from week one for the Bills. The pass rush was effective, they were successful with blitz packages, the secondary was stout and their quarterback took care of the football. However, the constants through two weeks might be more noteworthy; the offensive line continues to play impressive football and Spiller is proving to be capable of carrying the offense.

In fact, this victory could quite possibly turn into one of the most well-rounded games the Bills play all season. Defensively, they didn’t give up anything big until very late in the game and they nearly had wire-to-wire control offensively.

Even the special teams looked solid as John Potter continued to bomb kicks through the end zone and even had a solid directional kick to the corner of the goal line on another occasion. I’m still a little iffy on the punt coverage after a few more kicks that the coverage team seemed to struggle with. What is difficult to ascertain is if this is a kicker issue (Moorman kicking punts that are difficult to cover) or a coverage issue (cover teams that aren’t filling lanes). Reagrdless, they prevented big plays on their end and produced one of their own.

Say what you will about Ledois McKelvin’s ability as a cornerback, but he has to be one of the deadliest return men in the NFL. Unlike some players from week one, McKelvin can be that bad on a regular basis, but can also be stellar, as he showed in the preseason. He probably deserved a shot at redemption as the slot cover man. However, if he remains as an explosive return option, it won’t be an issue.

With Cleveland coming in week two before a pair of incredibly difficult games, the Bills will be looking at another “must-win” in order to keep their head above water once they’re through the 49ers and Patriots.

Bookend Dominance

Unlike week one, Mario Williams and Mark Anderson were effective rushing the passer. Anderson made more waves and was able to take advantage of one-on-one matchups for most of the game. It was clear that KC was more concerned with providing extra help inside and against Williams. In fact, it seemed more often than not that Williams was either facing a double-team or chip from a tight end or back. Not often was he rushing with a single blocker in his way.

However, Williams’ second-straight shutout resulted in more opportunities for the other pass rushers. Alex Carrington proved he was worthy of a roster spot and Kyle Williams was downright dominant as Buffalo’s defensive tackles picked up four sacks (Marcell Dareus had one) on the afternoon. If Williams is going to get extra attention each down, the other three players on the line are likely to benefit from singular matchups, which should result in regular pressure on the quarterback.

Wondering about the Wildcat

When the Dolphins first rolled out the wildcat formation and torched the Patriots, it was an intriguing and interesting formation. The Dolphins took advantage of motion and read option plays in addition to taking some risks by actually throwing the football out of the formation. However, since that day the wildcat has been little more than a below average option for most NFL offenses.

Buffalo put a rather sizeable investment into their implementation of the formation by signing Brad Smith last season and managed some small success with the sub-package. However, it has been little more than a gimmick and hasn’t produced any game changing results. This is the same effect that has been seen across the league. Even Tim Tebow has yet to prove capable of providing an actual wrinkle for the offense to this point.

Buffalo ran a few plays out of the wildcat on Sunday and had moderate success with a jet sweep to CJ Spiller. Otherwise the formation was rather useless and could have cost the team dearly when Brad Smith fumbled later in the game. When Tashard Choice took a snap as the wildcat QB, it was yet another strange addition to the strange formation.

Buffalo hasn’t threatened to throw from the formation but once in two years and has also yet to show much firepower in the formation. To that point, Brad Smith’s role on the team must be questioned. Is it worthwhile to keep a QB/WR on the team when a more talented receiver could bring more to the offense? Would a mobile QB from a read option offense (see: Young, Vince) bring more versatility to the offense? The answer to that second question might be no based on Tebow’s ineffective play, but perhaps the Bills should reconsider their direction with the package moving forward.

Winning in the Trenches

For the first time in what seems like forever, the Bills have an offensive line that is effective in both the run and pass game. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been kept clean and C.J. Spiller has enjoyed massive holes to run through in the first two games. While some excitement needs to be tempered, especially when you consider Cordy Glenn has all of two games in the NFL. However, the other four starters obviously have chemistry and Chad Rinehart and Chris Hairston are both beyond capable options off the bench.

With so many expecting the Bills to draft a quarterback in the next draft, perhaps the line will be capable of facilitating said player’s development.

It was over when:The Bills systematically drove down the field for their third touchdown of the first half to make the score 21-0.

MVP:CJ Spiller LVP:Aaron Williams, because he could’ve been better.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 20, 2012 11:26 am

    There are also games against the Cleveland Browns , St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars for Spiller to look forward to. Those are three teams who should be terrified by the prospect of subduing a runner with a 10.1 yards per carry average.

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