Buffalo Bills Wrap Up: Houston Texans
Buffalo Bills: First and Five Wrap-Up
This week the Buffalo Bills headed to the first place team in the AFC, the Houston Texans. While many had the Bills as 10.5 point under dogs, Bills fans knew better and anticipated the return of Mario Williams after undergoing his wrist surgery to repair a nagging injury that he blamed for his slow start. To many people’s surprise, the Bills held their own for most of the game and had the win in reach. Inevitably though, due to poor play calling, the Bills fell short in the end.
The question this week by many is why head coach Chan Gailey continues to push quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick into the spotlight and putting the game in his hands. Everyone knows that Fitzpatrick’s time is up but rather than run top running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, they continue to pound Fitzpatrick into the game plan. The game plan resulted in no touchdowns and a horrible fumble after Fitzpatrick scrambled around trying to find a two yard pass that he could complete.
In a game that, in hindsight, seemed winnable, it makes things all the more difficult to swallow as we continue to hear excuse after excuse from Chan. He seems past his prime and unable to adjust to opposing teams game plans. It doesn’t seem completely unrealistic that the Texans would load the box with seven big guys, like Gailey said, which lead them to shy away from the running game. It would seem pretty practical that defense’s would want to load the box to force Fitzpatrick to throw, which is exactly what happened. Apparently the rest of the NFL knows that Fitzpatrick isn’t the answer. Does anyone want to let Gailey in on the big secret? Let’s look closely at what the Bills accomplished or failed to accomplish this week in Houston.
1- Stop Arian Foster and the run game
The Bills seemed to think that they fared well against the run because they didn’t allow record breaking numbers like they had against the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49er’s. Arian Foster still managed to run for 111 yards and scored a touchdown. This was Foster’s second highest rushing game this season. The defense continues to struggle stopping the run as the linebackers seem invisible. Not sure why so many are saying this was an improvement. I know it wasn’t a 200 yard day, but it still wasn’t great. Buffalo’s defense is still one of the worst in the league and doesn’t look to improve much as the season finishes out.
2- Mario Williams has to show up
The Bills lost, but Mario Williams did seem to improve after undergoing wrist surgery during the bye week. There was a lot of criticism surrounding Williams and whether or not this injury was just an excuse. Maybe he was just pumped up because he was going into his old house to take on his old team, but regardless he got to quarterback Matt Schaub, which is what he was brought to Buffalo to do. Mario finished the day with 7 tackles and a sack, bringing his sack total to 4.5. I’ll give him another week and take my anger out on the offense and Gailey this week.
3- Keep the offensive line healthy
No injuries on the offensive side to report other than Stevie Johnson who suffered a bruised thigh in the game against the Texans. Unless Johnson plans to duck out of an embarrassing loss this week in New England, I fully expect him to play. I can’t help but be a little optimistic that the offense may have a better day than it did against the Texans with the return of Cordy Glenn to the line-up. Then again, the offensive line was pretty good against the Texans defense, ranked third overall going into the game, and only allowed one sack on Ryan Fitzpatrick.
What I can’t seem to get a grasp on though is, the offense is ranked 6th in the league in rushing and rather than taking advantage of the line that they have, Chan decided to only give the ball to C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson six times each for the entire game. This week with all of the heat that Chan has received, the game plan should involve both running backs a lot more.
4- Force Houston to make mistakes
The Bills didn’t have to force Houston to make mistakes as they did a lot of that on their own, however, the Bills failed to capitalize on them. Houston, also coming off a bye, came out sloppy in the first half before coming to their sense after halftime and putting the game out of reach. The Texans had a number of false start and holding penalties that forced them in long conversion attempts. In the first half, the Houston Texans were called for three false starts, an illegal formation and a holding penalty. The Bills did block a punt but again failed to force turnovers. Without turnovers, especially against the number one team in the AFC, winning is a reach.
5- Take advantage of field position
The Bills didn’t make much range when it comes to field position this week against the Texans. Their biggest advantage was starting at the Bills 36 yard line and managed to get a field goal on that drive. Special teams were all over the board this week and kicker Rian Lindell missed a 56 yard field goal attempt late in the first quarter. He then went on to make his other 2 field goals on the day. The special teams also blocked a field goal attempt and for the second time this season, Alex Carrington got his hand on it to stop the Texans from increasing their lead. Buffalo really gets an advantage when Leodis McKelvin has the room to run into opposing territory so not being able to do so this week against the Texans really hurt their chances even more, especially since Buffalo failed to get into the end zone at all.
This week the Bills head to New England in a must-win situation. The Bills haven’t won in Gilette Stadium since it opened its gates in 2002. Is this the year they overcome their losing streak in New England? Follow me on twitter too @christynepolle