By Ch2 Sports Director
Here's something positive with 7 games remaining on the Bills schedule; they don't have any more bye weeks. What happened to the team that hit the bye week at 5-2? There were injuries, but how does that explain two straight games where the Bills were not even faintly competitive? For one thing, NFL coaches have caught up with the Bills offense. They're now not allowing Bills receivers the yards after catch they'd been getting, and they've all but taken away the screen passes to Fred Jackson that had been such a big part of the Bills offensive success.
With that happening, we may now be seeing that this "no name" corps of receivers isn't really that special. Stevie Johnson has all but disappeared, and Donald Jones has been inconsistent since coming back from injury. David Nelson is the Bills best receiver, but his handoff to his Cowboys cheerleader girlfriend was the Bills most exciting play Sunday in Big D.
If we thought the low point came in the 27-11 home loss to the Jets, we thought wrong. The 44-7 loss at Dallas was a total embarrassment from Chan Gailey and his entire coaching staff to virtually every player on his football team. We know Tony Romo can be pretty good, but 23-26 for 270 yards and 3 touchdowns? Ridiculous. The Bills didn't come close to a sack or interception. It's pretty obvious this Bills defense is one of the worst in the NFL, and if it doesn't force turnovers, there's no way the now in-a-funk offense can overcome it.
Early in the season, there was a lot said and written about the success of the Bills based on the performance of "no-name" players who either weren't drafted at all or were not early round picks. On offense, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Stevie Johnson were 7th round picks, while Fred Jackson, Donald Jones and David Nelson were not drafted at all.
The blame for the Bills sudden collapse doesn't fall all on these players, of course¸but maybe we're starting to see how little talent this team actually has on its roster.
I wrote just before the season began that Gailey and gm Buddy Nix probably realized they had a lot more work to do after breaking the team down position by position than they may have thought before coming in. Paying for aging free agents may help them in the short term, but the only way out of this constant rebuilding state is to continue building through the draft.
This year's draft class, led by Marcell Dareus, is a step in the right direction, although the quarterback position still has to be addressed in next year's draft even though the Bills have committed to Fitzpatrick. For the record, I think Fitz isn't one of the Bills biggest priorities, even though he plays the most important position. Grooming a talented youngster would be nice, but getting some help for Fitz should be the more immediate priority.
The stats from the Dallas game don't tell the story with Fitz, imo. He threw one td and had 3 int's, including a pick six, and yet all things considered, his play didn't have as big an effect on the game as you'd think. So inept was the Bills 'd' in the first half that the offense continually faced poor field position, in a situation where it had to take some chances to get back in the game. One int was a ball Jones should have caught, although under heavy pressure Fitz threw the ball a touch high. NFL receivers should make that catch. The final pick as the Bills were driving for a meaningless td appeared to be more of a wrong pattern than bad throw, and I give Fitz the benefit of the doubt on any play where it appears that may be the problem.
For the second week in a row, Fred Jackson lost a fumble, but he still acquitted himself well with 114 yards on only 13 carries. Give the Cowboys credit for totally taking away Jackson in the screen game the Bills have used successfully to get him into open space.
Can this possibly be the same team that dominated KC and came from behind to beat the Raiders and Patriots, then whipped a scary Eagles team that had recently walloped the Cowboys? Even the last second losses at Cincy and the Giants were more than competitive. What happened?
As mentioned, NFL coaches are figuring out how to slow down and stop Gailey's spread offense, which until now had hidden some of the Bills weaknesses in personnel.
Add that to the fact the defense, unless forcing turnovers, is simply dreadful, and you have a 5-4 team that is a shell of what it was earlier this season.
It wasn't long ago Bills fans thought at least the then winless Dolphins were worth a couple w's on the schedule.
How easy does that game at Miami next Sunday look now?