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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Extra Point: Bills rebound for win in opener

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.

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Bills have options despite shortage at receiver

Food for thought: the Bills have four specialists, four wide receivers and four quarterbacks. You might say three quarterbacks and five wide outs depending on your point of view.

Regardless, the Bills enter week one with a very interesting set up in terms of their 53-man roster. Tavaris Jackson, Tyler Thigpen and Brad Smith are all filling a role behind Ryan Fitzpatrick as Buffalo’s signal caller. Meanwhile, only Stevie Johnson, David Nelson, T.J Graham and Donald Jones are the wide outs for Buffalo’s typically spread open attack.

Dorin Dickerson’s versatility may fill the Bills need for receiving depth.

The choice to retain Thigpen was obvious. Jackson, while a fine option to fill the backup role behind Fitzpartick, hasn’t learned the offense yet and would leave the Bills crippled if Fitzpatrick was injured early in the year. In addition, Brad Smith has a wonky groin and seems better suited as a receiver than quarterback.Smith’s groin could potentially keep him out of, or limited, against the Jets. There is still five days until kickoff which allows for plenty of healing time. Regardless if Smith plays or not, there is a better chance he will be contributing as a receiver rather than at QB (outside of wildcat plays).

What might be the best option would be to cut ties with Smith. He hasn’t proven to be worth the investment they made, particularly with so few spots available for gimmick tools (see: kickoff specialist). It might just be in the best interest of the team to retain Thigpen as a third string passer, cut ties with Smith and fill the vacant spot with a proper receiver from a practice squad, waiver wire or free agency.

It seems safe to assume that the Bills will not attempt to go through the season with just four receivers while carrying an equal number of quarterbacks. At some point they will cut ties with a signal caller to free up a roster spot for either a playmaker or some other position of need. In the short term, however, they do have some options. Continue reading