Nov 7, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) rushes against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
The Buffalo Bills’ offense has had some bright spots and some dark spots this season. Throughout this slide, we will highlight both.
It’s been a long start to the season for the Buffalo Bills, who could easily define it as a “rollercoaster” year thus far. After nine games, the Bills enter their bye week at 4-5 following a very controversial Monday Night loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Buffalo started the season losing their first two games — to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1 and the New York Jets in Week 2. Their season opener easily could’ve ended in a victory and Week 2 was within reach, but couldn’t finish out the game. The Bills were outscored by just 12 points in those games — combined.
After the rough start, the team woke up after the firing of offensive coordinator Gregg Roman — who was known for transforming this team into the best rushing team in the league. The new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn took over for their Week 3 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals and started a four-game winning streak for Buffalo — against the Cardinals, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers.
During their four-game winning streak, the Bills outscored their opponents 124-53. Yes, that’s more than double. For those that say this offense can’t produce, they’re wrong. They just aren’t doing it at a consistent level. Make no mistake, this offense can be one of the best offenses in the league at times and that’s very promising moving forward.
However, those four games would be the only wins the Bills’ would see before their bye week as they followed that with a three-game losing streak — against the Miami Dolphins, Patriots and most recently the Seattle Seahawks.
Their offense has been slowly coming along, but unfortunately all of the big plays the defense gives up make it hard to come away with a win. During Buffalo’s three-game losing streak — which they will attempt to snap in Week 11 when they return from their bye week — the Bills have been outscored 75-100.
Sep 15, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills offensive guard Richie Incognito (64) against the New York Jets at New Era Field. The Jets beat the Bills 37 to 31. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
In each game, the offense has put up 25 points and were within one score (field goal vs. Dolphins and touchdown vs. Seahawks) of winning, but couldn’t pull it off in the end.
As you can see to the right, the Bills remaining schedule features the Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and lastly the New York Jets. Buffalo is capable of defeating every one of these teams, with the toughest matchups most likely being the Raiders and Bengals.
If the Bills want to make a late push for the playoffs, they will need to go undefeated after the bye week, but might be safe with one loss — let’s not think like that, though.
Without further ado, let’s start going through the Bills’ offensive player grades so far this season.
To slide through the different players, click on the blue bar located above — labeled “NEXT.” Enjoy!
Nov 7, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) passes against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Tyrod Taylor has had his ups and downs this season, but has established himself as the best rushing quarterback in the NFL.
What I Like: only three interceptions on the year, mobility, throwing ability on the run, ability to make something out of nothing, deep ball is one of the best in the league at times, best rushing quarterback in the league, gives Buffalo the ability to run any type of offense or play, doing what he can with what he’s given, good at keeping the Bills in a game.
What I Don’t Like: struggles to control the offense at times, overthrown balls, doesn’t see wide open receivers at times, passes going wide, lack of confidence in the fourth quarter, trouble finishing out a game — especially when Buffalo has a chance to win.
Tyrod Taylor has received a lot of criticism for his play this season, but he doesn’t deserve much of it.
When you consider the fact that his right tackle is having a bad year, his top running back has been injured at times, his top-four wide receivers have all missed time, his left tackle has battled an ankle injury and most recently his starting center went down, you start to realize how difficult it must be to control this offense.
[related-tag tag=”tyrod taylor”]
Now, that’s never an excuse when you’re talking professional sports, but at the same time it does change how the Bills set up their gameplan. When a team is forced to stray away from playing their normal game, it can throw the whole unit off.
In my opinion, Tyrod Taylor has done an excellent job of transitioning with the offense. Without much help on the receiving end, Taylor has had to adapt to become more explosive on the ground. Not only does he have four rushing touchdowns this season, but he has scored one in each of the Bills’ last three games and is 40 yards away from 400 yards on the year.
He has also done something that will win over any coach and that’s not turning the ball over. With just three interceptions on the year and one fumble lost, he has helped this team become the best team in the league at taking care of the ball — tied with the Minnesota Vikings at 5 giveaways this season.
If Tyrod Taylor can play like he did against the Seattle Seahawks for the rest of the games this season, the Bills might be able to pull off a push for the playoffs. Remember, he’s also still playing for a big contract.
He will most likely re-sign with the team, but he’s going to need to gain our trust when the game is on the line.
Nov 7, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) rushes against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of a NFL football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
LeSean McCoy is 200 yards away from matching his rushing production from last year and has increased his yards per rush by 0.7 yards from last season.
What I Like: explosive ability, can make any defender miss, “cut on a dime,” big runs come often, one of the best rushers in the league when healthy, confidence is sky high, makes this offense fun to watch, can run wildcat effectively, can handle a lot of carries, finds the endzone.
What I Don’t Like: hamstring is still an issue, could be featured in the pass game more effectively (5.5 yards per catch).
When on the field and healthy, LeSean McCoy is looking a lot like his former self. His ability to cut through holes and make space for himself is fun to watch. He has become a focal point of this offense and a major piece to what makes it all work.
[related-tag tag=”lesean mccoy”]
With him and Tyrod Taylor out there together, the Bills can literally do anything and run any play they want to. They keep the opposing defense guessing and at times, it has proven to make this offense one of the most dangerous in the league. McCoy has already doubled his touchdown total compared to last season, scoring 6 touchdowns this year and three last year.
Unfortunately, injuries continue to be a problem for McCoy. Although his hamstring has only kept him limited one game (8 rushes for 11 yards vs. Miami) and out for another (Week 8 vs. Patriots), those were two pivotal games that each ended in a loss — and more notably ended the Bills’ four-game win streak.
The Buffalo Bills will need both Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy healthy and at their best for the final seven games of this season. If not, the Bills can expect to another year without a playoff game.
With the bye week, McCoy should come back Week 11 as healthy as possible — which means watch out, Cincinnati.
[nextslide teaser=”Buffalo Bills' RB Mike Gillislee” slider=”true”]
Dec 27, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills running back Mike Gillislee (35) celebrates his 50 yard touchdown run during the second half against the Dallas Cowboys at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills defeat Cowboys 16-6. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Gillislee has been a nice compliment to LeSean McCoy this season en route to solidifying himself as the team’s primary backup.
What I Like: explosive ability, finds holes easily, always seems to crack out big runs, loves finding the endzone, great compliment to McCoy, stepped up when McCoy was out, can open the playbook up even more with McCoy, Taylor and Gillislee on the field at once, dependable.
What I Don’t Like: needs to be used in the passing game, needs to get the ball more each game — at least 10 carries per game.
When we learned that the Buffalo Bills weren’t bringing Karlos Williams — our 2015 standout rookie — back this season, we knew we were missing an explosive part of this offense.
[related-tag tag=”mike gillislee”]
Luckily for the Bills, Mike Gillislee is making that absence a lot easier to deal with. He was a reliable rusher last season with 267 rushing yards on 47 carries — which is right around where he’s at already this season. He has also surpassed his touchdown total compared to last season, with four this year and three last year.
The Bills know how important it is to have a reliable backup running back — especially with LeSean McCoy’s hamstring still an issue. Against the New England Patriots in Week 8 — with McCoy out — Gillislee finished with 12 carries for 85 yards and one TD. He followed that up with another TD vs. the Seattle Seahawks in their last game.
Tyrod Taylor and Mike Gillislee have combined for 5 rushing touchdowns in the past three games and continue to keep defenses honest when they are both on the field. Add McCoy and you can run any play you want.
Gillislee — much like Karlos Williams was last season — is doing everything we need from a backup running back and is proving that he is good enough to be a starter in this league.
In most fan’s eyes, Sammy Watkins is inching closer and closer to being a bust. His foot, which was a problem last season and caused him to not by 100% basically all season, continues to cause problems.
[related-tag tag=”sammy watkins”]
This time around, Watkins’ foot only lasted two games before he was forced to sit out. Although he didn’t require surgery, he hasn’t played since Week 2 — which means a lot.
A lot has changed since Week 2 and a healthy Watkins could be that missing piece in the passing game that we need so desperately. We haven’t seen Watkins perform since Anthony Lynn took over as the offensive coordinator.
Lynn has done an excellent job of figuring out how to use his players, so I expect the same to be true for Watkins.
Since he was placed on the IR so quick this season, there is still a chance we see Watkins return this year. In my opinion, the Bills should give him the rest of the season off — whether he says he is good to go by the end of the season or not. With injuries, I always say give them more time than they need because you are almost destined to make it worse if you don’t.
Sammy Watkins had surgery last season — more specifically intramedullary screw fixation — and it caused him to feel large amounts of pain when he put the foot to use. Imagine how much stress his foot goes under running all those routes at full speed.
As of Friday, Watkins is eligible to return to the practice field for the Bills and will be able to return to games on Nov. 27 — Week 12 vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars. Is that really a good idea, though? Personally, if he is 200% ready and we win vs. the Bengals, we might benefit from letting him finish the season.
However, we would need to monitor him very closely and if we see any sign of ailing or pain, it’s time to shut him down for good this season.
Either way, next season will be Sammy Watkins‘ biggest test in the NFL thus far.
[nextslide teaser=”Buffalo Bills' WR Robert Woods” slider=”true”]
Oct 9, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Woods (10) catches a pass against the Los Angeles Rams in the second quarter during a NFL game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Woods has slowly started to gain more chemistry with Tyrod Taylor, but is set to become a free agent at the end of the season.
What I Like: route-running ability, ability to extend a route if Tyrod needs more time, can play all over the field, shows signs of a WR1 presence at times, can have as big of a game as any other WR in the league, confidence continues to increase, knows this team well, playing for a bigger contract, third-down conversions.
What I Don’t Like: one of the main things he has lacked is consistency, hasn’t met expectations with Watkins out, needs to be more vocal in this offense, needs to find the endzone more.
2016 Receiving Statistics: 39 receptions, 56 targets, 452 yards, 11.6 average, one TD, 25 first downs, 7 catches 20+ yards.
2016 Fantasy Points:
With Sammy Watkins missing all but two games this season and Robert Woods playing in his contract year, we expected Woods to be more reliable and consistent this season. He hasn’t had a bad season at all, but he had a chance to go overdrive these past seven games and only did so once.
[related-tag tag=”robert woods”]
In 8 games this season — he missed Week 7 vs. the Miami Dolphins — Woods has only really had three bad games (4 catches for 20 yards Week 1 vs. Baltimore, one catch for 2 yards Week 2 vs. Jets and 2 catches for 26 yards Week 5 vs. Rams). In those three games, he was targeted 13 times (7 catches).
For the other five games, Woods was either spectacular or at-least productive. His two big games were Week 4 vs. the Patriots (7 catches, 10 targets, 89 yards) and Week 9 vs. the Seahawks (10 receptions, 13 targets, 162 yards). His 10 catches and 162 yards were career-highs for Woods.
His only touchdown came in Week 6 vs. the 49ers, adding 5 catches, 6 targets and 44 yards.
During his 162-yard performance vs. Seattle, one thing I noticed over everything else was his ability to keep drives going on third-down. You could tell every third-down the Bills had, Tyrod was searching for one man and that was Robert Woods.
Overall, he has been productive most of the time, but not as productive as we’ve needed. He’s consistently been targeted as Tyrod’s favorite receiver out there. If his chemistry with Taylor continues to improve, these two can be lethal next season.
Of course, in his contract year, no one really knows where he’ll be playing next season. Personally, I really hope Woods returns with the Buffalo Bills next year.
Aug 13, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (88) reaches for a pass during the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Marquise Goodwin has used his speed all year long to separate himself from defenders, but has had injury concerns as well.
Marquise Goodwin came into this season as our clear No. 3 wide receiver, beating out a handful of competition. He was the most consistent of those battling for that spot throughout training camp and the preseason.
Because of that, expectations were much higher this season than they were last season. With Taylor in his second year as a starter with this offense, we all assumed Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin would all have career years.
[related-tag tag=”marquise goodwin”]
Although that hasn’t really happened yet for any of them, Goodwin has been having an average year limited by injuries. Dealing with a concussion twice this season, the good news is Goodwin has only missed one game (Week 8 vs. Patriots) and has been targeted more than 5 times in all but two of his contests (Week 1 vs. Baltimore and Week 7 vs. Miami).
Goodwin has shown that his speed is a very valuable piece to this offense. During Week 2 vs. the Jets, Goodwin scored an 84-yard touchdown by flying past Darrelle Revis. He would do something similar during Week 7’s matchup with the Dolphins, this one for 67-yards. His other touchdown of the season came on a short pass in the red zone, proving that he can even be used in goal-line situations.
Unfortunately, consistency is key in this league and it’s something that Goodwin hasn’t perfected yet. Even though he has 37 targets this season and is averaging just over 4 targets per game, he is only bringing in about two of them per game (16 catches on the season).
Goodwin has the ability to be a strong No. 3 wide receiver for this team and if Woods can step up, it would open up both of their games and keep opposing defenses honest. When Watkins returns to the field, both Woods and Goodwin will benefit from it, as well.
Don’t count these wide receivers out yet, we haven’t seen what they can all do on the field at the same time — especially under an offense run by Anthony Lynn. Until we see that, we will never know anyone’s true potential with this offense.
Regardless, Marquise Goodwin will need to have a strong final seven games of the season and find a way to avoid injuries at all costs.
[nextslide teaser=”Buffalo Bills' TE Charles Clay” slider=”true”]
Sep 27, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Buffalo Bills tight end Charles Clay (85) stiff arm Miami Dolphins player during a game at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Charles Clay has failed to meet expectations this season and has been almost invisible. He will need to have a good end of the season if the Bills want the playoffs.
What I Like: size, ability to get open, good hands, big-body is good for blocking, can line up in a plethora of formations, red-zone threat, has the potential to be a top tight end in this league
What I Don’t Like: injuries have kept him limited, hasn’t put up anything close to expectations, invisible at times, should be a bigger part of this offense — especially with a mobile QB like Tyrod Taylor, needs to bring in more of his targets
Charles Clay simply hasn’t been living up to expectations this season and only has seven games left to turn it around. Each week, we hear about how good of a matchup he has, but he hasn’t been able to bring in his targets.
[related-tag tag=”charles clay”]
Clay’s 46 targets is second on the team behind Robert Woods (56) — who had 13 targets vs. Seattle. He has been one of Tyrod Taylor‘s favorite targets, but Clay has only brought in 29 of the 46. To make matters worse, the Bills haven’t found a way to utilize his red-zone ability and has resulted in Clay producing zero touchdowns so far this season.
11 of his 29 catches have gone for first downs and 3 of them were catches of over 20 yards, but his average yards per catch is below 10. Clay will need to step it up and start to turn his opportunities into production.
Having a productive Clay would do wonders for this offense. We already know how stellar the running game is and how versatile they are with the playcalling when rushing the ball. If Charles Clay can prove to be a bigger threat to teams, start to bring in more catches and score some touchdowns, then it would open the field up for all the other receivers.
When you don’t produce, teams don’t worry about you as much. When you start to draw attention, it’s make the quarterback’s job much easier. The Bills’ running game keeps defenses guessing all game long — that’s what we need from our passing game too.
Clay and Anthony Lynn have seven games to figure it out a way to get him more involved. Tyrod has proven that he can find him, now it’s time to start converting.
Sep 20, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills tackle Cordy Glenn (77) and New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones (95) during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Patriots beat the Bills 40-32. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Cordy Glenn has been battling an ankle injury all season long, but continues to be a strong offensive lineman on Tyrod’s left side.
What I Like: can play through injury and remain productive, big body, just signed big contract, one of the best left tackles in the league
What I Don’t Like: ankle has been bothering Glenn all season long, including the preseason
Important to Note: Glenn hasn’t been practicing much the past few weeks, but is proving that he is a valuable piece to this offensive line by bringing great pass protection game in and game out.
About six months ago, the Buffalo Bills agreed to a five-year contract worth up to $65 million with left tackle Cordy Glenn.
[related-tag tag=”cordy glenn”]
He was coming off his rookie contract after the Bills drafted him in the second round back in 2012.
Listed at 6’6” and 345 pounds, you can see why Glenn creates difficulties for defenders when trying to get by him. He does a great job of protecting Tyrod Taylor and giving him time to decide on a target. His dedication to the team is displayed week in and week out and that’s something that will rally a Buffalo Bills’ fanbase.
With the injuries at the wide receiver position, Taylor has had a tough time connecting with a lot of the receivers we have to use. Glenn’s protection on that left side makes Taylor feel much more comfortable out there. People don’t realize how important that is.
Before the Bills matched up with the New England Patriots in Week 8, Pro Football Focus produced an article with 30 unique stats to know for that entire NFL week. Cordy Glenn was featured as one of the stats, stating that he was “one of just two offensive tackles with 150+ pass blocks and no sacks or hits allowed.”
PFF went deeper into it, stating:
[blockquote align=”left”]This past offseason, Glenn received a new contract with the Bills, and so far it’s paying off. Over five games, Glenn has only surrendered six hurries. Two of those hurries came against the Patriots and Bills in their Week 4 matchup. He will often face Chris Long, who had a strong start to the season, but has since slowed down. It will help the Bills’ passing attack if Glenn can continue his strong performance and extend Long’s slump.[/blockquote]
If Cordy Glenn can continue to give Taylor the time he needs, then all we need is our receivers to bring in some catches. If I were you, I would be happy that Buffalo tied up Glenn for five years and hopefully he stays even longer.
Especially with Eric Wood out for the season, Glenn will need to take on a much bigger role as a vocal part of this offensive line.
[nextslide teaser=”Buffalo Bills' LG Richie Incognito” slider=”true”]
Nov 7, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Buffalo Bills guard Richie Incognito (64) reacts during a NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks defeated the Bills 31-25. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
One of my personal favorite Buffalo Bills’ players, Richie Incognito continues to prove why he’s one of the best in the league.
What I Like: plays his heart out, loves the city of Buffalo, can change formation all game long, keeps defense guessing, one of the best left guards in the league, creates huge holes for McCoy, Gillislee and Taylor, simply just an awesome guy on and off the field
What’s not to love with Richie Incognito? He’s easily one of the hardest working offensive linemen in the game and it translates into having one of the best rushing attacks in the league. Without the holes he creates, LeSean McCoy, Mike Gillislee and Tyrod Taylor wouldn’t be able to run the ball like they do.
[related-tag tag=”richie incognito”]
Ever since “Bullygate” happened and Incognito switched from the Dolphins back to the Bills, you never hear Richie’s name unless it’s someone praising his efforts and admiring his determination to turn not just his career around, but his life around too.
Every year, USAA partners with the NFL to name a winner of the USAA Salute to Service Award. It’s an annual award now in its 6th year and honors a player who continuously shows appreciation for the military and military families. Each team in the league nominates one player from their team for a chance to win the award.
Incognito grew up in a military family, his father being an Army veteran. This season, he is donating 20 tickets to military families each home game, including food vouchers and personalized t-shirts for the families.
In addition, when Week 13 rolls around (Player Cause Week), Incognito will be playing in honor of the USA’s military and military families associated with Veterans One Stop Center.
Richie Incognito continues to be a role model on and off the field and deserves a lot of credit for helping the Bills shape their running game into one of the league’s best. MCoy, Gillislee and Taylor have a lot to be thankful for this year.
[nextslide teaser=”Buffalo Bills' C Eric Wood” slider=”true”]
Dec 27, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills center Eric Wood (70) against the Dallas Cowboys at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Buffalo beats Dallas 16 to 6. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
It’s unfortunate that the Buffalo Bills won’t get to see Eric Wood return this season after suffering an injury.
What I Like: has been rather reliable his whole career (with the exception of his rookie season and this season), a vocal leader of this offense and offensive line, knows this offense better than anyone, one of the best centers in the game, rarely makes mistakes
What I Don’t Like: broken leg this year, wish we could clone him, other than that this guy is hard to hate
Important to Note: Eric Wood’s broken leg that he suffered in Week 9 vs. Seattle will keep him out the remainder of the season. He will be missed, but will come back better than ever next season.
Eric Wood, Richie Incognito and Cordy Glenn make up one of the best left offensive line groups in the league. Add in John Miller to the right of Wood and you have to applaud Doug Whaley on his ability to find OL talent in the draft. All four of those players were drafted by the Buffalo Bills and have become one of the tightest offense lines in the league.
Eric Wood is the primary vocal leader of these guys and does a terrific job of noticing what the defense is planning — and letting the rest of the squad know. His rare mistakes make him one of the best centers in the league, helping both the passing game and rushing game.
For the first nine games of the season, Eric Wood was on his way to yet another outstanding season. However, in the fourth quarter of the Bills’ Week 9 game vs. the Seahawks, Eric Wood suffered a broken leg and was carted off the field. He had surgery on the leg a few days later in Buffalo and has been ruled out for the remainder of the season.
It was a huge blow for the Buffalo Bills and was explained perfectly by head coach Rex Ryan:
[blockquote align=”left”]“That’s a really, really big blow to our football team,” he said. “Eric really takes charge of that offensive line. Richie is a veteran player that I know can handle things. He’s a sharp guy who studies hard, but it’s going to be a big loss.”[/blockquote]
[nextslide teaser=”Buffalo Bills' G Ryan Groy” slider=”true”]
Aug 20, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills guard Ryan Groy (72) against the New York Giants at New Era Field. Bills beat the Giants 21 to 0. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Groy will need to step up big time in Eric Wood’s absence, who is out for the rest of the season.
What I Like: very smart player, can line up in various formations and unbalanced formations, has worked with offensive line coach Aaron Kromer in Chicago before, Rex has faith in him
What I Don’t Like: Haven’t seen much at center from him, didn’t do very well when replacing Wood vs. Seattle
Important to Note: Ryan Groy was an undrafted rookie in 2014 and was picked up by the Chicago Bears, when Aaron Kromer was the offensive line coach for the Bears. He would later be traded to the New England Patriots before coming to Buffalo – reunited with Kromer.
With the Buffalo Bills losing their starting center Eric Wood for the rest of the year with a broken leg, they are in desperate need of a reliable center. Rex Ryan touched base on this, stating:
“It’s hard to replace a player of his caliber, but we have two guys that we feel pretty confident in,” Ryan said.
[related-tag tag=”ryan groy”]
One of those guys Rex was hinting at was Ryan Groy, who is playing in his first season with the Buffalo Bills. An undrafted rookie in 2014, he has proven to be a student of the game and has become quite the versatile guard in this league.
He has seen most of his snaps as a swing tackle, lining up in a lot of unbalanced formations. His presence gives the Bills’ offense all different types of plays to run, due to the versatile blocking. However, when he replaced Eric Wood vs. Seattle as center, he didn’t look particularly tuned at the position.
Luckily, the Buffalo Bills and Ryan Groy have an extra week to prepare for their next matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. that gives them enough time to fine-tune Groy as a center. There’s no doubt that he has big shoes to fill, but every player is looking for their chance to prove their worth to a team.
This is Groy’s shot.
The Bills also have Patrick Lewis, who is a center, but he has been inactive all season long and it looks like the Bills are better off with Groy.
[nextslide teaser=”Buffalo Bills' RG John Miller” slider=”true”]
Sep 1, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Buffalo Bills offensive guard John Miller (76) smiles after the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Lions win 31-0. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
John Miller just might be our next big name on the offensive line. He continues to get better, despite going through a tough rookie season last year.
What I Like: young, smart, fast learner, motivated, drafted by the Bills, means business, continues to get better, great run blocking, creates holes, team loves him
What I Don’t Like: Jordan Mills sort of makes him look bad at times
Important to Note: Last season during Week 7, Miller’s mother passed away. It was his rookie season and caused a lot of distractions. He has come out in 2016 poised to be the best player he can be and it’s showing on the field.
The Buffalo Bills drafted John Miller with the 81st overall pick in the 2015 draft. Coming out of Louisville, the Bills were desperate for help on the right offensive line and were willing to give Miller a shot.
[related-tag tag=”john miller”]
His rookie season didn’t exactly go as planned, which was mostly spent injured and grieving the death of his mother. Despite losing her before Week 7’s game vs. the Jaguars last year, he returned the following week ready to play.
Miller spent a lot of time in the offseason working on his technique and staying in shape. He got help from Richie Incognito — Bills’ guard on the left side on learning the position and understanding concepts a bit better.
His hard work has paid off and he has become a very solid addition to this offensive line — despite being in just his second year. People always say Doug Whaley doesn’t know how to draft talent, but John Miller is just more proof to why that’s wrong.
Rex Ryan had nice words to say about Miller:
[blockquote align=”left”]“Oh, what a tough guy,” Rex Ryan said. “He’s such a good teammate and he cares greatly about this football team and about his linemates and stuff like that. It’s important to him. But man he is a really good player.”[/blockquote]
[blockquote align=”left”]“He’s tough, man,” Incognito said. “He’s mentally tough and he just kept trucking. On the outside, you never would have known he was dealing with all of that stuff unless you were in his inner circle. My hat’s off to him. It’s tough to do that as a rookie. It’s tough to play a lot, and it’s tough to do that when you’re injured and you lose your mother like that. I’m just proud of him. Proud of the hard work, proud of the way he’s playing and proud of the guy he is.”[/blockquote]
I hope John Miller continues to improve as he has done all season long. This is definitely a player the Buffalo Bills should hold onto for a long time.
[nextslide teaser=”Buffalo Bills' RT Jordan Mills” slider=”true”]
Oct 30, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Jordan Mills (79) against the New England Patriots at New Era Field. Patriots beat the Bills 41 to 25. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Mills will have to step his game up after the Buffalo Bills’ bye week or else he will be in jeopardy of losing his starting job.
What I Like: young, one of our 2013 draft picks, has time to develop, a solid backup right tackle
What I Don’t Like: backup talent with a starting role, weakest member of the offensive line, hasn’t shown much improvement since being drafted, inconsistent, doesn’t protect Tyrod Taylor well
Important to Note: Jordan Mills was beat out by Seantrel Henderson for the staritng right tackle position in 2014, but earned the starting role when Henderson was sidelined due to injuries and a diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease in 2015.
Jordan Mills was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2013 and arrived with high hopes of solving the Bills’ struggles at right tackle. Since then, Mills hasn’t really improved as much as people were hoping.
As of right now, the Bills have a very solid offensive line that features Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, Eric Wood and John Miller. You would think by now Mills would’ve added his name to that list, but inconsistency has kept the Bills searching for a right tackle still.
[related-tag tag=”jordan mills”]
Since drafting Mills, the Bills have also drafted Cyrus Kouandjio and Seantrel Henderson. However, neither have proved to be a better option than Mills — Henderson due to his battle with Crohn’s disease and Kouandjio just hasn’t been really good.
So far this season, Mills has given up five sacks, three quarterback hits and 24 quarterback hurries. He hasn’t been protecting Tyrod Taylor very well and hasn’t really been that strong with the rush protection either.
Most recently, during the Bills’ Week 9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Mills gave up a very crucial sack to Cliff Avril. It was the final drive of the game that the bills were so close to scoring a winning touchdown, but when they got to the 7-yard line Avril blew by Mills easily for an 8-yard sack on Taylor.
It was a terrible play for Mills and one that definitely hurt Buffalo’s chances of scoring that winning drive — which they ultimately fell short on.
The bills will be forced to find a right tackle this season that could fill the hole in that offensive line. Having 4/5 great offensive lineman is great for Buffalo, but it just takes one man to allow a play like we saw at the end of the Seattle game.
Whether it’s the draft or free agency, the Bills will need to upgrade this position to make Tyrod more comfortable under center.
[nextslide teaser=”Justin Hunter, Walter Powell, Reggie Bush and Seantrel Henderson” slider=”true”]
Nov 7, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Justin Hunter (17) celebrates his touchdown reception the with tight end Charles Clay (85) against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
There’s a few people I left out that will definitely need to step it up when the Buffalo Bills get off their bye week.
[grade grade=”C” photo=”//cdn.fansided.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/16/files/2016/11/9613151-justin-hunter-nfl-san-francisco-49ers-buffalo-bills-1.jpg” firstname=”Justin” lastname=”Hunter” position=”WR” team=”Buffalo Bills”]Justin Hunter joined the Buffalo Bills right as the team was announcing the placement of Sammy Watkins on the IR. He has appeared in five games for Buffalo, gathering 6 receptions on 14 targets for 71 yards. Three of those six receptions were touchdowns and two of them came in the red zone. He has shown that he can be used within the 20-yard line, but he needs to bring in more of his targets if he wants to stick around in Buffalo. He has as good a chance as ever to impress the coaches and much like the rest of the backup WR’s, he isn’t getting it done this season. He’s going to need a big second half of the season, no doubt.
Walter Powell has been one of the more disappointing wide receivers this season. There’s no doubting the fact that Powell has had his fair share of chances to impress the Buffalo Bills’ organization, but he simply hasn’t put it together yet and is running out of time. He has been targeted 24 times in 8 games this season, bringing down just 13 of those for 141 yards and no touchdowns. In Weeks 3 and 4 combined, Powell brought in 7 of his 10 targets for 50 yards, but since then has only brought in 6 of his last 14 targets. He was used most in the Week 8 matchup with the Patriots, where he caught 3 passes for 59 yards, despite being targeted 8 times. Powell will need to work on his chemistry with Taylor if he wants to stay with this team much longer.
Oct 23, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Buffalo Bills running back Reggie Bush (22) carries the ball during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins won 28-25. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Reggie Bush was once viewed as the next great running back coming out of USC in 2006, but never really found his groove with any team. He only amassed 1,000 yard seasons twice — 2011 with Miami, 2013 with Detroit. After losing Karlos Williams before the season started, people thought Bush would see a good amount of action with the Bills. However, Mike Gillislee beat him out for the backup role behind LeSean McCoy and has solidified himself in that spot. That leaves Bush with almost no time on the field. With the time he has seen, it hasn’t been good. With 9 carries this season, he has -2 yards and one touchdown — a one-yarder vs. Miami. He has been starting to find some action in the passing game, with 5 receptions and 69 yards in the past three games. I don’t see Bush sticking around much longer, especially if McCoy and Gillislee continue to show excellence.
Seantrel Henderson hasn’t had your normal NFL career so far. After being drafted in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Henderson was viewed as the missing piece to this offensive line. He would beat out the competition in his rookie season, earning the starting role right away. However, injuries and being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease have set his career back quite a bit these past few years. He even faced a 4-game suspension at the start of the season, although it was a questionable suspension. Henderson hasn’t seen any action this year, but has started practicing again and is making Rex Ryan happy so far. He continues to work hard on a comeback and looks like he will be the starting right tackle by the end of the season — possibly within the next two weeks. If he can stay healthy, he could give a huge boost to the right side of the O-Line.
Oct 23, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) throws a pass during the first half against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Buffalo Bills’ offense could definitely use some improvements in a few areas, but they definitely have a few things figured out, as well.
If it weren’t for the Buffalo Bills‘ secondary, most of our losses could’ve been wins. Then again, if Tyrod Taylor was more clutch in the final quarter, we also could’ve had a few more wins this season.
So far this year, the Bills have the same offense they had last season. They have one of the better rushing attacks in the league paired with a well-rounded offensive line, a mediocre passing game and a struggling wide receiver bunch.
Let’s take a look at how they rank in the league on offense:
Yards Per Game:18th (343.7 yards per game)
Passing Yards Per Game: 31st (188.7 yards per game)
As far as the rushing for Buffalo goes, it doesn’t really matter who we have carrying the load because we are going to be successful at it either way. As for the passing game, injuries have definitely been a setback as far as production goes, but we should still be doing better than we are.
With a solid passing game that threw for more yards and found the endzone more often, the Bills’ offense would’ve graded a B+ instead of a C+. In order for the grade to reach an A/A+, we would need to add better pass protection from the offensive line to bring down our sacks allowed.
As for the rest of the season, I can see the Bills’ passing game finally start to improve. Don’t expect it be in tip-top shape until we have a completely healthy receiving corps and work on our concepts more, but we are close to the next level.
Don’t give up on this offense. Tyrod Taylor is doing an exceptional job of working with what he is given. He has had to run a lot more than expected, so it’s obvious that his passing numbers would see a dive. However, he’s making great use of those rushes and that is why the criticism is unjustified.
LeSean McCoy and Mike Gillislee have proven to be just as good of a duo as Karlos Williams and McCoy were last season. If Reggie Bush continues to improve his abilities in the passing game, that would only help us going forward.
On the receiving end, we need to stay healthy. In my opinion, Sammy Watkins needs to stay out the rest of the season and come back next season COMPLETELY healthy. There is no reason to risk any further injury. We need to start trusting the next man up and giving him chances.
Lastly, the offensive line has been great, with the exception of Jordan Mills. However, he will have to do for now and we’ll just have to hope he starts to improve quickly. Losing Eric Wood is going to sting, but Ryan Groy or Patrick Lewis need to step up.
That’s it for the Buffalo Bills‘ offensive grades through the first nine games. With the bye week now complete, we will be preparing for the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.