Friday, January 6, 2012

2011 Buffalo Bills Season in Review


I needed a little time to reflect on the disappointment and embarrassment of the 2011 season before writing my 2011 season year in review. Had I written this blog any earlier this week, I would have been calling for the release of the entire 53 man roster. Then, today after we signed David Clowney, I have renewed hope in what is going on at One Bills Drive.

The Bills were awesome to start the season. They were exciting to watch. The opening day destruction of the Chiefs 41-7 got things rolling. The Bills had three consecutive home wins that rival any stretch of regular season home games in the history of Ralph Wilson Stadium. It began with the win over the Raiders and Fitz' now famous scream after the 4th down touchdown pass to David Nelson. Drayton Florence's interception return of Tom Brady to give the Bills the lead against New England was the most exciting play at the stadium since Sam Adams was barreling down the sideline against those same Patriots. The Eagles game was the one that made me think that this team was legitimately a 10 win contender. Then, it all fell apart.

The Bills started 5-2. Ryan Fitzpatrick had 14 touchdowns and 7 interceptions and was a pro bowl candidate. Fred Jackson had 721 yards rushing and 353 yards receiving. He was an MVP candidate, on pace for the Bills yardage records. Nobody thought this team would be anything like 2008...who would have imagined that they would actually be worse?

The 7 game losing skid was embarrassing. The Bills had their worst 3 game stretch in team history, getting outscore by 80 points, 106-26. Never in the history of the franchise have they been outscored by such a margin in a 3 game stretch.

What was the problem? People blame injuries. I blame lack of talent and poor coaching, especially on defense. In back to back seasons, the Bills have allowed the 2nd most points in team history. The Bills allowed 27.1 points per game during the 2011 season (434 total) which was good for third worst in the league. The Bills defense was supposed to be better than last year's. We drafted Dareus. We picked up Barnett. Merriman was supposed to be healthy. Young guys from the 2010 draft were supposed to take the next step. After all, how could that defense possibly be worse than they were in 2010? Well, they allowed 425 points last year which was 5th worst in the NFL. So, with better players (allegedly) the Bills defense actually got worse. Yeah, I know, Kyle Williams was hurt. Kyle Williams was healthy on this defense a season ago. How good is Kyle Willams?

The real issue, as mentioned, is the young guys. Torell Troupe and Alex Carrington were supposed to be impact players on this defense. They are closer to being out of the league than they are of being impact players. Arthur Moats has had a moment or two in this league...fact is, he is not a good football player. Batten is a poor mans Josh Stamer. Coleman got cut. On the bright side, the Bills got to see a lot of rookies Kelvin Sheppard, Aaron Williams and Da'Norris Searcy this season. They will need to produce in a big way next year.

Final Rankings:
Rush YPG 28th (139)
Pass YPG 19th (232.1)
Total TPG 26th (371.1)
PPG 30th (27.1)

These numbers were just not good enough to allow George Edwards to keep his job. The Bills needed to find a scapegoat and he was it. Dave Wannstedt will take over in 2012 and the Bills will likely switch back to the 4-3. This will suit Dareus and Williams better and they are the Bills best defensive players. Oh and if you are thinking about how the Bills took the ball away a lot this year which covered up for their other obvious shortcomings, their 31 takeaways were tied for 5th in the league. This is great...except when you give it away 30 times. Thanks Fitz.

This is a great segue into the offense. They were unstoppable early in the season. Then they faced Rex Ryan, lost Eric Wood, lost Fred Jackson, lost Don Jones, lost Roscoe Parrish, lost D Bell, lost Chris Hairston, lost Kraig Urbik, lost Scott Chandler. Holy moley. Stevie Johnson was favoring a groin injury. At one point in the season finale, the Bills receivers were Hagan, Ruvell Martin, Naaman Roosevelt and David Nelson. I love Nelson, but he isn't saving that group of cast offs. Injuries did affect the offense, there is no doubt. I still think the Bills have a decent offense led by a decent quarterback in Fitz.

Fitz did however lead the NFL in interceptions with 23...which isn't really a good way to start my explanation of why he is OK and the least of our problems. The fact is though, I can't blame him for all of these. Yeah, watching him throw the deep ball is painful. He isn't good at it. It makes it harder when you are throwing to maybe one NFL caliber player. He also lost his best lineman and center Eric Wood. The Bills had no replacement for him. Levitre tried against Dallas...but it didn't really work out too well to say the least.

Fred Jackson went down against Dallas and ended up being placed on IR. Fred was having an incredible season. I was never a big Fred guy but he won me over. He is a great player, a great story and a great leader. The problem is, he got hurt, Spiller finally got to show his ability, and now the Bills are in a bind and Jackson looks like he might get screwed over again. Spiller began to show why he was as highly touted as he was coming out of Clemson. Over the last 6 games, when CJ was really featured, he ran for 446 yards and had an additional 187 receiving. He averaged 5.19 YPC. If you project these numbers out over a 16 game season, that equates to just shy of 1,200 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving. The Bills drafted Spiller in the top 10. He was Gailey's first pick. I personally don't think that Chan is smart enough to effectively use Spiller and Jackson in a way that they are both happy. Also, Fred is 31 years old, so how big of a contract should he get? It will be interesting to see, but I would try to move Fred and ride with Cliff next year (although, I am sure many fans who don't understand football will be pissed off).

So what about our boy Stevie Johnson? It seems many people in the media hate him and want him out of Buffalo. Jerry Sullivan made it clear he hates Johnson and wants him out of town. I don't get it. He didn't do anything that was really that bad. Yeah, the fake shooting his leg against the Jets was embarrassing for himself, but he paid for it. His display at New England Sunday though was not a big deal at all. In fact, I think it's slightly pathetic that Chan sat him. He wrote Happy New Year on his shirt. This is the NFL, not the ACC. All he did was piss off the entire team.

You work hard all week to try and win a football game. Stevie Johnson is out there working hard all week preparing. He is working hard during the game. He scores a TD and lifts his shirt and it says Happy New Year. He gets a flag, gets benched for 3 quarters, the Bills don't score another point (actually 7), and then the media wants him out of town. Stevie Johnson is a legit above average starting NFL receiver. People complain about the Bills not keeping their good players. Well, he is a good player and if the Bills don't keep him, I think it would be a terrible decision on their part. Pay him the 7.5 million and move on.

Also, if it comes between Stevie and Fred, I think it is Stevie without a doubt. If we lose Stevie, WR all of a sudden gets added to the list of positions that we can defend using our first round pick on. Oh and by the way, he become the first WR in team history to have 1,000 yards receiving in back to back seasons (also 17 touchdowns). Andre Reed had more than 17 touchdowns in back to back seasons combined only once is his career (he had 9, 8 and 10 touchdowns in 1989, 1990 and 1991 respectively).

Offensive Rankings:
Yards 14th (5,624)
Pass Yards 15th (231.4 YPG)
Rush Yards 13th (120.1 YPG)
PPG 14th (23.3)

Now I am going to give out some hardware to put a notch on another Bills playoff-less season.

Top 3 Moments of 2011:

1. Drayton Florence interception return against New England
2. David Nelson game winning touchdown catch against Oakland
3. Nick Barnett interception return against the Eagles

Honorable Mention: Eagles D lineman jumping offside on the obviously-we-aren't-snapping-the-ball-and-just-trying-to-draw-you-offside play at the end of the game against the Eagles

Worst 3 Moments of 2011:

1. Stevie Johnson drop vs. Jets with Bills trying to salvage season
2. Stevie Johnson getting benched vs. Patriots week 17
3. Greg Rayner screwing up a squib kick after Stevie Johnson's penalty for shooting himself in the leg against the Jets

Is it bad that Stevie Johnson makes an appearance in all 3 of these after I just defended him for an entire paragraph? Oh well.

Top 3 performances of 2011:

1. Fred Jackson 196 all purpose yards against the Eagles
2. George Wilson 11 tackles and 1 interception against the Eagles
3. Fred Jackson 194 all purpose yards against the Redskins

Worst Performance of 2011

1. Andy Levitre at center vs. the Cowboys

It is hard to single out some others because the Bills had some incredibly terrible games as a team, but a few come to mind.

2. Leodis McKelvin against any team he starter at corner against. Was it the first Jets game when he just got abused?

3. Fitz at San Diego...13-34 for 176 yards and 2 interceptions...a stellar 31 qb rating.

Team MVP: Can Fred Jackson win this even though he only played 9 games? I am giving him the hardware. He was the Bills best player when he was out there and was a major reason why they got off to the start that they did.

Team ROY: Goes without saying...saw some flashes from Dareus. It is exciting to see how good he can be after he gets an entire offseason in an NFL training program.

Team LVP: Leodis McKelvin, Chris Kelsay because he is so average yet has been here for so long, Spencer Johnson playing LB, Troupe for failing to stay healthy still, Carrington for sucking, god there are just so many bad players.

Team most improved: Cliff Spiller has obviously been developing and was able to show it the last 6 weeks.

Team COY (coach of the year): Dare I say Curtis Modkins? Hear me out...he is the "offensive coordinator/running backs coach." I don't really think he does much of anything as far as being an offensive coordinator goes. Gailey does that. I can't complain at all with the performance of our running backs...they were fantastic all year, so with that, Curtis Modkins, congratulations.

2011 was a disappointment. 2012 can't be worse. Isn't that what we said last year? Ugh, this franchise is the worst.

1 comment:

  1. boring. i'd rather read quality over quantity. what a waste.