Extra Point: Same story, different day in loss to Rams

Sunday’s let down was more of a re-run than a new episode in the saga of “The Ways the Bills Lose”. After holding a lead for most of the contest, a late drive and poor offensive execution in the fourth quarter sealed a victory for the visiting St. Louis Rams.Bills Rams

CJ Spiller had eight touches all game and that is really all that needs to be said on the Spiller matter. Chan Gailey has criminally misused Spiller on nearly a weekly basis and hasn’t figured out a way to solve the problem. Spending more than a sentence on Spiller’s misuse on a weekly basis is quite literally the definition of insanity. So, why not focus on the other things the Bills have failed to capitalize on?

The Buffalo defense has been downright angry in the weeks since the bye. Mario Williams is good for at least one big play per game and has become a real issue for opposing lines to handle. In addition, the interior combo of Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams has added to the headaches for opposing offensive lines. Thanks to the play of those three players, someone is typically bursting through the line each play.

Thanks to the improved play of the defensive line, the Bills run defense has been nothing short of dominant and there has been far less pressure on the defensive backs to make huge plays. Just look at Stephon Gilmore who is rounding into a very impressive talent at corner. Between Gilmore and Jarius Byrd, the Bills have the makings for a very impressive defensive backfield. Continue reading

Extra Point: Squishing the Fish

Winning affords teams a number of things. Namely, it absolves them of many of their mistakes made along the way. For one night, at least, the Bills can be absolved from some of their misguided decisions.

Buffalo managed to secure their first division win against Miami thanks to a sound defensive effort and another phenomenal return from Leodis McKelvin. C.J. Spiller had another productive evening on a night when neither offense was capable of building much momentum.

However, the one thing that stood out to many fans were the dubious playcalls made in specific situations by Chan Gailey. His third and short playcalling was particularly questionable on drive ending plays:

–          3rd and 1 from the BUF 33 – Tashard Choice wildcat run, no gain. Punt

–          3rd and 3 from the MIA 14 – Empty set, incomplete pass intended for Donald Jones. Bills FG

–          3rd and 1 from the MIA 16 – Empty set, incomplete pass intended for Scott Chandler. Bills FG

–          3rd and 3 from the MIA 17 – Fitzpatrick sacked. Bills FG

–          1st and goal from the MIA 4 – Three pass attempts, one defensive pass interference penalty and three incompletions. Bills FG from the MIA 1.

–          3rd and 1 from the BUF 44 – C.J. Spiller run for -1 yard.

The final play listed came in the fourth quarter when the Bills were milking the clock. Now, that was probably the right playcall and it just didn’t get the job done. But it is perplexing to think that Gailey would call six pass plays on short yardage situations in the red zone. Maybe the specter of Spiller’s goal-line fumble against New England still haunts the coach. Maybe Fred Jackson’s absence caused Gailey to go in a different direction. However, these are exactly the situations that fans and media have pointed to as shortcomings with Gailey’s attitude towards the run game. Continue reading

Extra Point: Playcalling bites Bills late

Poking the bear one too many times led to the Bills getting bit. The bear in this case was questionable play calling.

For the second-straight week, Chan Gailey was rolling the dice late in a game the Bills held a lead in. Unlike last week against Arizona, the opponent came away with a victory after the Bills failed to milk the clock and secure their lead.

This week wasn’t nearly as blasphemous as last week in Arizona, but it showed the same stubborn attitude that almost cost the game out west. Credit Gailey for this much, he didn’t try to have Brad Smith throw deep this time around. However, he still abandoned a running game that had dictated Buffalo’s success for the entire afternoon. Continue reading

Extra Point: Bills escape with win in spite of playcalling

One thing that the past dozen years has taught Bills fans is that there is always a new way to lose a game. Sunday almost became the most recent as an ill-advised wildcat pass, 61-yard field goal and a subsequent chip shot almost did the Bills in. However, the Bills survived and escaped Arizona with a win, in spite of themselves.

Thus far, the 2012 season has been maddening for most fans. The team has turned in varying performances which haven’t been consistent from week to week. In fact, the most consistent performance turned in this year was by the defense in back-to-back gashings against New England and San Francisco.

However, Sunday was the opposite. The defense was stout in collecting a handful of sacks and limiting the Cardinals offense to a limited array of success on only a few plays. Not only was the run game adequate, but the pass rush was downright dominant. For the first time this season, there wasn’t a soul in Bills Nation who could kick any sand on the defensive line.

The defensive performance was not only refreshing following two-straight losses, but it was necessary on a day in which the offense wasn’t up to the challenge of putting their foot on the collective throats of the Cardinals.

Offensively, Ryan Fitzpatrick continued to dig his grave with the fans and probably has begun to dig one with the coaching staff as well. The fans, who were exasperated after the collapse against the Jets and Patriots, were ready to run him out-of-town after every poorly thrown pass on Sunday. It doesn’t seem as if Chan Gailey is necessarily ready for that just yet as he continued to call pass plays despite the obvious inability of his quarterback to do any damage through the air.

However, the decision to try to milk the clock after a first down sack late in the fourth and the design of many of the late passing plays does point to a more conservative play calling approach which may be trending away from the glaring weakness that is Fitzpatrick’s arm strength.

That playcalling, however, just about sealed the Bills fate on the afternoon. After a baffling decision to throw a deep ball out of the wildcat formation, Gailey continued to force passing plays despite his running game’s obvious dominance on most downs.

Alex Carrington’s fingertip deflection of AJ Feely’s game winning field goal attempt kept the Bills above water and Jarius Byrd’s second interception gave the Bills the win. Without those two big plays and the continued success of the pass rush, the Cardinals probably would have come away with a victory.

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