105.5 The Team – Leave it to the Bills to drop a crucial division game that was plenty winnable. Some things never change. Buffalo entered the weekend as the league’s best rushing team, while Miami’s defense ranked 31st at stopping it. This game was practically on a silver platter for them.
Instead it was Buffalo that had no answer for the Dolphins run game, which piled up 253 yards. Hats off to Jay Ajayi and Miami’s offensive line; they were terrific. The same can’t be said for the Bills.
After that Week 6 blowout win over the 49ers it was tough to find five nays, this week it’s the opposite. Hate for that to be the case, but the Bills were a disaster.
Here’s my 5 yays and nays from Week 7:
1) The special teams
Special teams was by far the only phase of the game Buffalo one this week. Lerentee McRae altered a punt; Colton Schmidt did a tremendous job flipping the field on several occasions; and Brandon Tate had some terrific returns, also downing a punt at the one-yard line. Can’t forget Dan Carpenter, who was a perfect two-for-two on extra points and one-for-one on field goals. I give him a lot of heat for the misses, so I’ll give him some props for a perfect day, even with limited attempts. To see special teams helping the Bills is refreshing since last year it cost them so many games. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to earn a win.
2) The red zone offense
Buffalo has had one of the most successful red zone offenses in the league, scoring touchdowns on 72.22 percent of their tries. That trend continued this week as they reached the end zone on two of their three trips inside the Dolphins 20. Scoring when you cross into the red is so vital. The fact that this trend continued for the Bills, even in defeat is perhaps the one silver lining.
3) Marquise Goodwin…for the most part
He did drop a pass on a key third-and-three before the half, halting a very promising drive, but overall Goodwin had a good day filling in as the team’s top receiver. He led the team in targets (7), receptions (4) and yards (93). Most of that yardage came on a much needed 67-yard TD reception late in the third quarter. Pro Football Focus gave Goodwin a 69.3 grade, also citing that Tyrod Taylor had a 149.3 QB Rating when throwing his way.
4) Given the circumstances, Tyrod Taylor
A perfectly good opportunity at a game-winning drive eluded him, when the ball was in his hands with 3:56 remaining and the Bills down four. They disappointingly went three and out, but think about who his weapons were? As nice as that would have been we can’t put it all on him. He completed half of his passes (14-of-28), threw for 200 yards and a touchdown, but most importantly protected the football. That’s become one of his more admirable traits as a QB. Still what I liked most was his ball distribution. He had 7 passes targeted to the left side of the field, 7 between the numbers and 7 to the right side of the field, according to Pro Football Focus. His ability to use the whole field is promising.
5) The fight this team has
In the grand scheme of things the fact that this team is 4-3 after that 0-2 start is remarkable. You can say what you want about Rex Ryan, but one thing that’s obvious is that his players play hard for him. That same fight they displayed to get out of that hole was on display late in Miami. After the 66-yard TD pass from Ryan Tannehill to Kenny Stills that essentially put the game away, Buffalo went down and scored a touchdown and two-point conversion to cut the lead to three – albeit against the prevent defense. Regardless, it was good to see them not to pack it in. They’re resiliency will be tested again following this week’s loss. The Patriots and Seahawks await.
1) The decision to play LeSean McCoy
I know hindsight is always 20-20, but lets be honest starting McCoy and sticking with him for as long as the Bills did was stupid. Rex Ryan can sit there after the fact claiming that the doctors told him Shady was 100 percent, McCoy can double-down saying he “felt great” during warmups. Doesn’t matter. Using him as much as they did could wind up costing the Bills more than a game, if his hamstring injury lingers. I’m not saying they were wrong in trying to use him in a reduced role or even as a decoy, but it was pretty obvious early on that he wasn’t running with the same explosiveness as he has in recent weeks, yet they continued to force the issue and let Mike Gillislee rot on the sideline. The Bills poor management of McCoy’s hamstring injury is laughable and it could come with a price.
2) The run game pulling a Houdini
Piggy-backing off the first one, Buffalo’s No. 1 rushing offense was no where to be seen on Sunday. Between five different runners they carried the ball only 22 times and mustered up all of 67 yards. Entering Week 7 they were averaging 166 yards per game. That figure was 212 during their four-game win streak. The correlation between running the ball and winning is telling. In contests they’ve compiled 25 or more rushing attempts, the Bills are 4-0. On the contrar when they’ve run the ball less than 25 times a game they’re 0-3 and had less than 100 yards in each game.
The offense lacked identity during that 0-2 start to the season, which led to Greg Roman’s firing. Shockingly, for the first time under Anthony Lynn it was absent again. It felt like because the didn’t want to overuse McCoy that they were hesitant to even run the ball at all, despite having Mike Gillislee at their disposal. His second carry didn’t even come until McCoy exited the game in the third quarter, and wouldn’t you know he broke it off for 20 yards. It was the Bills longest run of the day. The Dolphins deserve some credit for tightening up their run defense in recent weeks, but I’ll never understand why Buffalo abandoned the run like they did.
3) The run defense
Jay Ajayi has become a much needed focal point of the Dolphins offense. He was a monster, rushing for over 200 yards for the second consecutive week and embarrassing the Bills defense. Not even the infamous 2015 unit surrendered 200 or more rushing yards to any team or individual. Part of the problem stems from Miami holding the ball for 37 minutes. That’s a long time for the defense to stay on the field, and you could tell that on some of those late drives Miami went on, they were gassed. It’s been rare for the defense to be a liability this year, but it was in Week 7.
4) Jarvis Landry’s reckless block on Aaron Williams
While angry, most of Williams’ teammates said the hit was just part of the game. They’re not wrong, however that block was unnecessary and reckless. There was no need for it whatsoever. What center Eric Wood explained was very interesting. He said that the teams all watched a video on those crack block situations during the off-season and that Bills coaches have instructed their receivers to simply get in the way of any cutting LBs or DBs but not lay them out, noting that it will get flagged every time. Landry’s did for unnecessary roughness, which is technically the right call, but it felt like the punishment should have been more severe. The fact that it isn’t already is embarrassing for the NFL. They continue to disregard player safety.
5) The offensive line
The Bills offensive line was awful yesterday. Maybe that’s why they abandoned the run game. It wasn’t just on run plays though. Taylor was under duress far too often and sacked four times. According to Pro Football Focus the offensive line combined to surrender 17 total pressures on the day. The biggest culprits were Jordan Mills, who allowed six total pressures and Cordy Glenn, who allowed four.
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