For the first time since the Brady Belichick era began, I went into a Bills Patriots game honestly thinking that the Bills had the better roster and were the more talented team. What a fool I feel like now. The Patriots have the greatest quarterback of all time and the greatest coach of all time. The Bills have Kyle Orton who they picked up 6 weeks ago and Doug Marrone, who is starting to show that maybe he really just is not good enough to coach in this league.
When I think back at yesterday’s game, the main reason for the loss is the coaching. The Patriots were better prepared, seemingly knew what we were going to do on defense at all times and just took it to the Bills. They made half time adjustments and scored on all 4 of their 2nd half possessions. The Bills on the other hand weren’t up to the challenge yet again.
Here are the major coaching errors that were the reason why the Bills lost in my opinion.
1. The Bills made Mike Williams a healthy scratch. I don’t necessarily hate him not playing, but to look onto the field and see the recently promoted from the practice squad player Kenny Ladley out there on special teams, I just scratch my head. Who cares about special teams? The good teams don’t care about special teams. The good teams aren’t going to sit a player they traded for in order to allow more special teamers to suit up. Mike Williams has been starting for this team and now he is benched so we can have more special teamers available? I just do not agree with that.
2. Sammy Watkins had 0 targets in the first half. Zero. Zilch. Nada. 2 first round picks to get a guy as good as Watkins presumably first and foremost for games like this one. Biggest game of the year vs. the New England Patriots. Everything the Bills do should be aimed at beating them. Sammy Watkins was a complete nonfactor. He was an afterthought. The Bills were resigned to ignoring him just because Revis was covering him. You know who knew how to get open vs. Revis? Steve Johnson. You know who threw the ball to Johnson when Revis was covering him? Ryan Fitzpatrick. You know who knew how to gameplan offensively to get Johnson the ball against Revis? Chan Gailey. And all this was before Revis ever get hurt and was in his prime.
3. The end of the first half was laughable and honestly could have warranted being fired in itself. The Bills got the ball with inside 20 seconds left somewhere around their 30 yard line with 2 time outs. 2 15 yard pass plays and they are in field goal range. The first problem is they ran the ball which shows they weren’t even trying. What is the best case scenario if you run the football there? You get a 10 yard gain or so? Teams never break a run there. They were clearly trying to just run it out. Spiller of course fumbles and the Patriots get the ball at the 42 yard line with 0 timeouts and 6 seconds left. Ok, fine, just cover the sidelines, don’t do anything stupid and it’s 10-7 at halftime. Instead, the Bills defense allows 15 yard cushions on the outside, Edelman catches an easy out route to get into field goal range and Gostkowski nails it. 13-7 at halftime. 100% inexcusable.
4. CJ Spiller’s use or lack thereof continues to mystify me. CJ Spiller cannot run the ball up the middle, I think we all have learned that by now. The Bills in general can’t but continue to beat a dead horse, which is a whole other issue. Why can’t we split this guy out and get him involved more in the passing game? Seeing what the Patriots do with far less talented players, it really makes you wonder what they could do with a guy like Spiller. You know who could get CJ Spiller involved and turn him into one of the premier young players in the entire league? Chan Gailey.
5. The defense in the 2nd half was pathetic. Many of us have been hanging out hats on this defense being good week in and week out. Well, in 4 2nd half possessions the Patriots hung 24 points on them. Can’t do much worse than that. Brady was picking them apart, but even worse than that, was the last Patriots possession and the personnel that was on the field. Down 8 with New England starting at their own 7 yard line, the Bills had their 2 best pass rushers and 2 of their best players overall on the sidelines in Jerry Hughes and Mario Williams. Marrone admittedly thought they were going to run the football, which shows complete cluelessness about their opponent. The patriots couldn’t run the ball all day and are certainly not the type of team to just run the ball 3 times and punt when the game is in the hands of their hall of fame quarterback. Secondly, Hughes and Williams were on the sideline because of the rotation? Rotation? Are you serious? Is this Chan Gailey circa 2012 with the Jackson Spiller rotation? I don’t care about rotations. Game is on the line and you have two double digit sackers on the sideline including a guy who your franchise inked to a $100 million contract. Amateur stuff.
There are a few other things I want to mention about this game.
The officiating was terrible and seemingly consistently went in New England’s favor. Surprise Surprise. The Watkins pick offensive pass INT was one of the worst calls I have ever seen (though it did not hurt them). Worse was the Robert Woods push off. From all accounts, this was a very ticky tack call and is hardly ever called. Woods’ arms touched the DB but hardly pushed off. That was a 1st down and 10 from the NE 30 down by 9. With the penalty the Bills were backed up to their 40 and never could get their way into FG range, being forced to punt, and NE subsequently drove down to take a 30-14 lead. Without that penalty, the game is 23-17 at worst. That call completely changed the flow of the game.
Kyle Orton was good and in my opinion was borderline great in the 2nd half. He did have two turnovers in the first half, but come on, they did not decide the game. Quarterbacks turn it over so the people quick to point that out have it in for Orton from the get go. The game was 10-7 at the end of the second quarter and the Bills had the football despite the turnovers. Orton made many great throws in the game and the Bills passing game looked good in the 2nd half. I just wish they would use it more and run it less.
The Bills are still in this. They play the Vikings this week at home in a game they have to win, obviously. Then, the season rides on that Jets game. If they beat the Jets in NY to go to 5-3, I think they still have a shot given the Patriot’s much tougher schedule. If they lose to the Jets to go to 4-4, forget about it, throw in the towel, start planning how to use your 2nd round pick in May’s draft and let the coach/GM search begin.