Buffalo Bills’ Sunday report card is unpleasant

By Connor Byrne  |   Tuesday, December 06, 2005  |  Comments( 0 )

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Sunday, the Buffalo Bills took on the Miami Dolphins in a battle of two bitter rivals from the AFC East. The Bills grabbed an early 21-0 lead and things looked as if they'd go their way throughout the course of the game. After taking a 23-3 lead in the third quarter, a victory for Buffalo appeared imminent. Instead, the Dolphins roared back in the final quarter to win the game 24-23. Having said all of that, here are my unfavorable Sunday grades for the Bills...

Offense:

Quarterback = B+. For the fourth consecutive week, first-year starter J.P. Losman showed a tremendous deal of promise for the Bills. He threw three first quarter touchdown passes to receiver Lee Evans. His first, a 46 yarder, was thrown brilliantly and the needle was threaded between the Dolphins' defensive back. On the second touchdown, Losman threw a strike to Evans that turned into a 56 yard catch and carry. The final touchdown pass, a 4 yarder, was a strike in between two Dolphins defenders. After the first quarter, Losman struggled because his offensive line started to fold. Losman had a key fumble in Miami territory as well as an interception near the Miami goal line. Still, it was the youngster's best game as he completed 13 of 26 passes for 224 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 turnovers.

Running back = C-. Willis McGahee continued his funk that has been going on since the team's November 14th loss to Kansas City. On the day he ran for 81 yards on 27 attempts, just 3.0 yards per carry. Early in the game he was hitting holes with fervor and looked poised for a 100 yard showing. It seemed as if he wore down after the first quarter and that led to another below average showing.

Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends = C-. Lee Evans played brilliantly as he torched the Dolphins' secondary for five catches, 117 yards, and 3 touchdowns. The Bills' second-leading receiver, Josh Reed, caught only two passes for a solid 35 yards. Roscoe Parrish caught two for 17 yards. Bills veteran Eric Moulds feuded with the head coach and saw his streak of consecutive games with a catch end at 121. Bills tight end Tim Euhus contributed just 5 receiving yards. In the end, it was another mediocre day for the group (sans Evans).

Offensive Line = C-. The line looked dominant in the first half as they gave Losman plenty of time to throw and opened up holes for the running game. However, the Dolphins made some adjustments with their blitzes on defense and began to manhandle the Bills' line soon after. The Dolphins only had two sacks in the game but they were able to get significant pressure on Losman. It's certainly worth noting that Bills right tackle Jason Peters held Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor to zero sacks. Thanks to Peters, Taylor was a virtual non-factor throughout the game.

Overall Offensive grade = C. Losman looked terrific for some of the game, Evans looks like the Bills' next great receiver, and the offensive line played their best game of the last few weeks. However, they had two key turnovers in the second half and failed to put the proverbial nail into Miami's coffin.

Defense:

Defensive Line = C. The Bills' defensive line got a great deal of pressure on Dolphins quarterback Gus Frerotte in the first half. In the second half they didn't get much of any pressure generated on Miami's backup QB, Sage Rosenfels. The Bills' 31st ranked run defense held Ronnie Brown to just 22 yards and Ricky Williams to 46. Defensive end Aaron Schobel came up with the line's only sack and made an incredibly athletic interception late in the fourth quarter.

Linebackers = B. London Fletcher has been playing like an animal the past month and that continued on Sunday. He had 12 tackles, two sacks, and knocked Frerotte out of the game. Angelo Crowell and Jeff Posey combined for 10 tackles to round out the Bills' starting linebacking corps.

Secondary = F. The self-proclaimed "best cornerback in the NFL," Nate Clements, was burnt to a crisp in this game. With the team up 21-0, Clements dropped an easy interception that would have led to a sure touchdown return for him. Instead, he allowed Dolphins receiver Chris Chambers to catch 15 passes for 238 yards and the game-winning touchdown. The Bills' safety duo of Troy Vincent and Lawyer Milloy looked completely out of place yet again as they continued to show their regression that has come with age. Cornerback Terrence McGee was unable to play much of the game because of injury and that led to the nickel corner, Jabari Greer, getting lit up by receiver Wes Welker and by Chambers on the final touchdown. All in all, it was an incredibly ugly day for the secondary that came into the game ranked #1. It's pretty bad when you're giving up 272 yards to Dolphins backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels...in one half.

Overall Defensive grade = D. The front seven played a nice game for the Bills but it was the secondary that killed the team in the end. In the second half, defensive coordinator Jerry Grey called off his first-half blitzing packages and that led to no pressure on Rosenfels, and an easy half for the Dolphins' offense overall. The Bills' secondary could have allowed even more passing yards than they did if the Dolphins' receivers wouldn't have dropped a whopping seven passes in the game. The 460 total yards for the Dolphins offense were still a great amount. There's no excuse for a defense to give up that many yards to an offense that currently ranks 15th.

Special teams:

Brian Moorman had another terrific day as he averaged 44.1 yards on his eight punts. Terrence McGee averaged 26.2 yards on his kick returns, and Roscoe Parrish had a nice day returning the punts. The real story for the Bills' special teams unit was their coverage units. They held Wes Welker to just 2.8 yards on his punt returns and 18.5 yards on his kick returns. Overall, it was another outstanding showing from coordinator Bobby April's group. ST grade = A+.

Coaching:

Head coach Mike Mularkey and defensive coordinator Jerry Gray had disastrous days. Mularkey's play calling was terrible in the second half (that includes his ill-advised call to throw with a 21-point lead with first-and-goal from the Dolphins' 3 yard line). The aforementioned play call led to Losman's only interception of the day and it came back to kill the Bills in the end. Mularkey's gratuitous celebrations after his team scores a touchdown need to stop as well. After the Bills took a 14-0 lead, Mularkey was high-fiving, smiling, and acting as if his team had just won a championship. Gray failed to make any positive adjustments in the second half as his defense was eaten alive by the Dolphins' passing game. Mularkey also loses major points for benching one of the team's greatest weapons, receiver Eric Moulds. Veterans like that deserve a whole lot better. This season there has been a pattern of Mularkey's hostility towards key veterans vise-versa. Many remember the feud between him and veteran defensive tackle Sam Adams. That feud led to Adams leaving prior to the game and going home to watch it. Coaching grade = F.

That my friends, is Buffalo Bills' week 13 report card. Overall, it's pretty hideous. The only bright spots were Losman, Evans, Peters, Schobel, and the entire special teams unit. Every week the Bills' ineptitude just baffles everyone who watches them. Isn't this team too talented to be giving up 20-point leads in the fourth quarter? Evidently not. Mularkey's fall from grace in his sophomore year of being a head coach has been totally catastrophic. In the end, it always goes back to the front office. Bills president and GM Tom Donahoe built a mentally weak team led by a clueless head coach. Now reports are finally fluttering out that he and Mularkey may no longer be safe at the end of the season. For Bills fans, it may mean that the lengthy tenure of dark days is coming to an end. Was this loss the final straw for Bills owner Ralph Wilson? We'll see.

Comments? E-mail Connor Byrne: cbyrne@realfootball365.com
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