Defense Shines Again; Offense Does Enough For Win


By PFC Bills Writer Jay Kommuru

The Bills won a close one for the second week in a row – although the scoreboard doesn’t show it this time – as they beat the Carolina Panthers 20-9. The Defense made some big plays when needed, despite giving up some big yardage, and the offense took advantage of the opportunities and made just enough plays to win the game. Starting this week I will be giving out unit-by-unit grades after each game as a substitute for the usual write-up.

Weekly Grades

Quaterback


Ryan Fitzpatrick may not be the long term answer, but he’s certainly getting this offense into a rhythm – something it lacked sorely with Trent Edwards. While his numbers look excruciatingly mediocre (11 for 23 for 123 yards and 1TD), he did take some deep shots including a 50 yard bomb to Lee Evans. Going forward, this will hopefully take the pressure off the running game a little bit. Plus he didn’t turn the ball over and avoided a lot of sacks with his legs.
Grade: B- (stats don’t tell the whole story here)

Running Backs
Take out the TD run by Marshawn Lynch, and the Bills were terrible on the ground against a team that has struggled to defend the run. The Bills managed 43 yards rushing on the day and the offensive line failed to open up holes for the running backs. Even when the holes were there Lynch struggled to get there in time.  It’s a good thing the passing game is starting to click a little bit or else this offense would be completely doomed.
Grade: D (the touchdown saved the day for this unit)

Wide Receivers
Lee Evans had a good game for the 2nd week in a row and seems to be developing a nice rapport with Fitzpatrick (5 catches, 75 yards and 1TD). T.O. had 3 catches of his own, but also had several drops which would’ve extended some drives. Josh Reed chipped in with 2 catches including a crucial first down. Other than that, it was a mostly mediocre day for the receivers.
Grade: C+ (the long completion is hopefully a sign of things to come)

Tight Ends


If it wasn’t for Derek Fine recovering a crucial fumble late in the game, you wouldn’t even know that the Bills brought any TE’s with them to Carolina. Zero catches in the passing game, and didn’t do much in the run game. Of course it doesn’t help when the QB only throws one pass in their direction.
Grade: D (lack of opportunity cannot be pinned directly on them)

Offensive Line


In the passing game, both tackles got abused by Julius Peppers, but only gave up 2 sacks total (1 to Peppers). Much of that had to do with Fitzpatrick avoiding tacklers in the backfield and using his legs to get a few yards and keep the drive alive. The run blocking was downright horrendous. Asides from the TD run in the red zone, there were barely any holes in the run game for the running backs. Jamon Meredith may not be the answer at RT and it’s a good thing Jonathan Scott is returning this week (I never thought I’d say that). They also crumbled in a crucial situation in their own endzone – False start penalty at the 4 yard line to put them at the 2, and then a safety on the following play.
Grade: D- (again, the stats don’t tell the whole truth – Fitzpatrick saved their skins)

Defensive Line


The unit was without Kyle Williams, who is an underrated player, but was able to put some pressure on Delhomme with mostly a four-man rush.  John McCargo did nothing to take advantage of his opportunity, meanwhile Spencer Johnson was decent. Maybin almost had his first sack but the play was called dead due to a penalty. Mostly this unit was solid, especially against the run – only allowed 116 yards rushing.
Grade: B+ (Solid play all around, nothing too spectacular)

Linebackers


They had a few missed tackles, but asides from that this unit held up better than expected. Chris Draft is certainly an upgrade over Ashlee Palmer – he chipped in with 3 tackles. Posluszny had a game-high 11 tackles, and Ellison had 7 tackles, and both were very active in the run game.  They did have a tough time bottling up the Carolina backs and tight ends who were responsible for 205 of the 325 total passing yards.
Grade: C+ (decent against the run, subpar against the pass)

Secondary


They gave up a lot of yardage but didn’t give up a score and mostly kept Steve Smith in check.  But their biggest contribution was in the turnover department as they had 3 INTs (Rookie Byrd had 2 of them), and gained huge chunks of yardage on the returns further setting up the offense for an easy score. Byrd also had a TD saving tackle on Steve Smith and overall he was a little better in run support than last week – although he did miss a tackle on DeAngelo Williams which resulted in the Panthers’ only offensive score.
Grade: B+ (run support still has to improve, but the turnovers are a welcomed change)

Special Teams
This was by far their best game of the year. The punt coverage was superb (12 yards on 4 returns – 3 yds avg) and the kickoff coverage was equally impressive (45 yards on 3 returns – 15 yds avg). The return team was solid but unspectacular – Jackson is an adequate replacement for Parrish. Lindell was 2 for 2 on FG opportunities and Moorman was able to pin the Panthers inside their own 20 five times. Overall Buffalo had a clear edge in field position all game which might have been the 2nd biggest reason for the win (1st – turnovers)
Grade: A- (lack of a spectacular return keeps them from getting an A)