Friday, November 1, 2013

Bills First Half Season Review

By Coast

The 2013 Buffalo Bills season has hit the halfway point and the Bills are a less than impressive 3-5. Unlike many of my colleagues on this blog however, I am not ready to "fire everyone". I think the first half of this Bills season has been promising and actually gives me a lot of hope for the future.

Going into this season, the most important thing to figure out was whether or not EJ Manuel was the future of the franchise. Through 4 games, the Bills were 2-2 and midway through the 5th game, the Bills held the lead...until EJ hurt his knee, the team collapsed and the season instantly seemed ruined. As mentioned in an earlier blog, EJ Manuel performed very well when compared to his 2012 rookie counterparts. His numbers were on par with the big three of Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin. EJ also added a 90 second no timeout touchdown drive to beat Carolina, who also sports the 2nd best defense in the NFL in points allowed through 8 weeks. EJ has done enough through 4.5 games to keep the hope alive that he can and will be a franchise quarterback.

The 2nd major unknown going into the season was the coaching staff. The coaching staff has aclimated themselves pretty well through the first 8 games. This team has shown up each and every week and has been competitive, that shows that Doug Marrone is a good coach, especially considering the injuries that have plagued this team at quarterback. Think about what this team has gone through this year: Kolb and Manuel each get hurt in preseason. Bills sign Thad Lewis and Matt Leinart. Neither make the team. Bills go into season with Manuel and Jeff Tuel, an undrafted rookie. The Bills sign Lewis to the practice squad. Manuel gets hurt in week 5, Tuel goes in and plays awful. Lewis promoted from the practice squad to starter and then the Bills sign Matt Flynn. Now Lewis is hurt and Tuel will probably start against an 8-0 team...can it get any worse?

Nate Hackett, the 33 year old offensive coordinator, has looked in over his head at some points this season. That being said, given the circumstances surrounding his quarterback (and MIA CJ Spiller), he has gotten the most out of this offense. Thad Lewis has been respectable. The Bills scored at least 20 points in the first 7 games, one of two teams to do that. The Bills are averaging 22 points per game, which is 18th in the NFL. The Bills have averaged 22 or more points per game only once since 2004. 

Mike Pettine has brought a completely new attitude to the Bills defensively. The Bills attack infinitely more than they have in the past few years. The Bills are tied for 4th in the NFL with 28 sacks. The Bills had 30 sacks in all of 2012. Unfortunately, the Bills have been allowing a lot of points. The Bills have allowed 26.6 points per game this season, which ranks 25th in the NFL and is not an improvement over the "historically bad" defenses under Chan Gailey. I do attribute much of this to the Bills offense being in hurry mode all the time and thus the Bills defense is on the field much much more. The Bills rank 29th in the NFL with 27:13 time of possession per game.

First Half Awards:

Most Valuable Player of the first half: This has to go to Mario Williams. Mario has been a stud this year. He has 11 sacks through 8 games and was instrumental in two of the Bills 3 wins (Carolina and Miami). If Mario can keep this up for the rest of the season, it will warrant him getting at least some of his $100M contract.

Least Valuable Player of the first half: CJ Spiller, enough said. Spiller has been a colossal disappointment. Spiller has 398 TOTAL yards and 1 touchdown thus far. CJ has not played well when he has been out there and to make matters worse he has been nursing an ankle sprain for 4 weeks. Terrible. (Honorable mention to Justin Rogers...but when you compare performance to expectations, it has to be Spiller).

Rookie of the first half: Kiko Alonso...obviously. His 4 interceptions is tied for the lead in the NFL and his 81 tackles is tied for 2nd in the NFL. Best Coach of the first half: Mike Pettine. The defense has made a complete 180 since last year and despite the high PPG allowed, I love the attacking mentality. Don't forget, this defense has been decimated by injuries this year, especially in the secondary. It was so bad that Justin Rogers was the number 1 corner against the Jets.

Worst game of the first half: Justin Rogers against the Jets. He single handedly lost us the game. 6-9 for 250 yards for balls thrown at Rogers and 10-21 for 70 yards for balls thrown away from Rogers (estimated). Either way, pathetic.

Worst coaching moment of the first half: Making Jeff Tuel the backup when Thad Lewis was clearly better. Made no sense. Best moment of the first half: Obviously the comeback against Carolina.

First Half Grades:

Coaching: B...Love Pettine and Marrone...Hackett has gotten a lot out of bad players

Receivers: C...Stevie is a number 2, Goodwin missed half the year, Woods was developing some good chemistry with Manuel, but has been invisible since EJ's injury, Graham sucks, Hogan doesn't play and Easley is a decent special teamer...we need a WR in the first round next year big time

RBs: C...Fred Jackson has been good, but Spiller brings this unit down big time. The Bills rank 7th in rush YPG but are 15th in yards per attempt...just average and that is how I would rate them.

QBs: C-...QB play this year has been mediocre...EJ had a promising start and now we are stuck with Thad Lewis, Jeff Tuel and Matt Flynn...puke

D Line: A-...A lot of sacks...Mario has been a monster...Rush YPA allowed is 3.9, 14th in the league...this is a significant improvement (5.0 in 2012)

LB: B+...Kiko is the real deal but other than him, who has really done much?

Secondary: C...unit hasn't been helped by injuries, but that Jet game alone lowers this grade to a C at best...They do have 12 interceptions as a defense which ranks 2nd in the AFC.

Special Teams: D...we cut our punter and signed the guy who we cut last year for the guy who we cut this year...what? Punt returns cost us big time in Browns and Bengals losses...kick returns have been few and far between and ineffective when we do get a chance...lone bright spot has been Carpenter. 

2nd half prediction: The Bills have one of the easiest schedules in the NFL the rest of the way. If they can beat KC this weekend, they could get hot. I like the Bills to go 6-2 in the 2nd half and significantly factor in to that final wild card battle.

1 comment:

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