105.5 The Team – While there was some murmurings of a potential let down because it would be such a Bills thing to do, Buffalo did what most expected – dismantled the Cleveland Browns in Week 15. A loss to the 0-13 Browns may have ended Rex Ryan’s tenure with the team two weeks early. Other than that it means very little for Buffalo, so don’t be fooled when ESPN flashes that “in the hunt graphic” with the Bills logo and 7-7 record on it. They’d need total chaos to ensue to have any shot at the postseason.
RB LeSean McCoy led the way for Buffalo, TE Charles Clay had his best game of the season and the offense go it’s mojo back a week after getting shut down by Pittsburgh. Aided by the fact that the Browns trotted Robert Griffin III out at quarterback, Buffalo’s defense was dominant with Kyle Williams back from injury, and yielded just one touchdown the entire day.
It was pretty much a complete team effort. Here’s my five yays and nays…
1) LeSean McCoy
Need I say more? As usual McCoy was simply amazing, bolstering his season stats against a weak Browns defense. His 153 rushing yards is a career high during his tenure as a Bill. His two rushing scores tied and then broke a franchise record for rushing touchdowns in a season (27). Shady also went over 1,000 yards rushing on the year, the fifth time he’s accomplished that feat in his career. It’s a shame his captivating season will likely go to waste without a trip to the playoffs.
2) Kyle Williams
Think the Bills missed having Williams on the defensive line last week when Le’Veon Bell was pounding the rock down their throats? He resolidified Buffalo’s front seven this week and was an absolute headache for the Browns O-line. He finished the day with 1.5 sacks and four total tackles, but his impact went beyond what the stat sheet shows. He was constantly pressuring Robert Griffin III and helped keep RB Isaiah Crowell bottled up all day.
3) Charles Clay
Well, well, well, look who made an appearance. Albeit against the worst team in the league, and one that has struggled mightily at defending tight ends. Still, after weeks of offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn saying they don’t scheme to get just one guy the ball, it was nice to see Clay actually be a more prominent contributor in the offense. He put together his best day of the season making a team-high seven receptions, for a team-high 72 yards and scoring his second touchdown in as many weeks. It was good to see him being utilized over the middle of the field in particular.
4) Red zone defense
The Bills red zone defense has been a serious liability in previous weeks. Dating back to their Week 8 home contest with the Patriots, Buffalo had allowed 17 touchdowns on 22 of their opponents red zone trips. Those numbers pushed their opponents red zone scoring north of 56 percent. On Cleveland’s three trips to the red zone this week, Buffalo yielded just one touchdown.
5) Tyrod Taylor
His stats (17-for-24, 174 yards, one TD, seven carries for 49 yards) weren’t eye popping, but this was a day when they didn’t have to be. The Bills run game was working so well Taylor didn’t have to do much and when he did look to throw he was efficient. His ability to throw over the middle of the field and use Clay was very impressive. That’s an area he has struggled mightily throughout his nearly two seasons under center in Buffalo. To be clear, it’s okay that Taylor doesn’t put up crazy numbers every game, especially considering how dominant the Bills run game can be at times. This issue often lies in the fact that when they do need the Virginia Tech product to make more plays with his arm, he can’t. He looked like he could have done some more damage if needed in Week 15, albeit against a deplorable Browns defense.
1) The first red zone series
After forcing a Browns three-and-out to start the game, the Bills offense took over at the Browns 47 and promptly moved down to the five on three plays. They started with a screen pass to McCoy for -2 yards, before McCoy broke off back-to-back runs of 20 and 24 yards respectively. From there the Bills got cute running an option play with Taylor for no gain, then failing on two consecutive pass plays. They literally just watched McCoy rip through the Browns defense for two huge gains to get them on the door step, then abandoned the run game that got them there in the first place. Just seemed like Anthony Lynn was overthinking things there a bit.
2) Containing RGIII
It wasn’t a major issue by any means, but RGIII was the only offensive threat Cleveland established. Griffin III finished with eight carries for 48 yards and his longest run of the day came on an 18-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. It was his best day running wise in over two years. Nitpicking a bit here but he was the only player who had any kind of success against Buffalo’s defense.
3) Dan Carpenter
What do you know, he missed another extra point on Sunday. In the grand scheme of things it mattered very little, but it can’t be ignored. Last season he missed six of his 40 extra point attempts. Through 15 weeks this season he’s already matched that number of attempts and missed five of them. He’s got plenty of time to still miss a sixth, even if it is on more attempts.
4) Where was Sammy Watkins?
For as great as Charles Clay’s performance was, Sammy Watkins was no where to be seen. He made one catch for 10 yards. Again, the pass game didn’t need to be a huge factor in this one, but to only get the ball in the hands of your best receiving weapon once is inexcusable. There has to be a better balance of getting both Clay and Watkins more involved. Not just one or the other.
5) The Browns
The Browns are indeed as bad as advertised and I truly feel for their fans. They are tough to watch, especially on defense where every play they were being pried open by the Bills O-line like the Red Sea. They’re lucky Shady didn’t go for 200 plus yards. And then on offense, it boggles my mind how far Robert Griffin III has fallen since being named rookie of the year in 2012. That team is an absolute disaster right now, but in 2-3 years this “deep rebuild” may be worth it.
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