What We Learned From Week 14: Buffalo Bills – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buffalo Bills didn’t have anything left to play for on Sunday and they sure showed that. It was easy to forget that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were just 3-9 and in the middle of a disaster season that was only just recently starting to come around.
This was one of those performances where, as a fan, you’re left wondering why you take the time out of your life to watch these guys — why you subject yourself to this when you know imminent failure is right around the corner. Why do you continue to let them punch you in the face when you know said punch hurts oh so bad?
Enough waxing existential. Let’s just get on with it and see what we learned from Sunday’s 27-6 drubbing at the hands of the Bucs.
Remind EJ Who He Plays For
I’ve given my fair share of praise to E.J. Manuel this season. And he’s deserved it, mostly. He shows a confidence we haven’t seen in a Bills quarterback in ages. He can deliver a deep strike with accuracy, scramble around to extend a play and he’s a third option in an already dangerous run game.
That said, yesterday was hands down the worst performance of his young career. He went just 18-of-33 on the day, totaling 184 yards. More importantly than that, though, is that he threw four interceptions and, though it’s not his fault, was sacked seven times. The offense never stood a chance in the face of that.
It’s hard to really be that upset with Manuel given the constant pressure in his face and the total lack of a running game from Buffalo – they finished with just 67 yards on 22 attempts. Still, no matter how many times you eat turf you cannot turn the ball over. Hopefully, young E.J. learns quickly.
The sad part about yesterday is that Bobby Rainey secretly didn’t have that good of a game. He finished with 127 yards on 22 carries and, yes, that’s very good. But aside from his 80-yard touchdown run on the second play of the game he was average. Like 47 yards on 21 carries average.
Sadly, though, that first run figured to set the tone of the day for the Bills who really didn’t have a bad day defensively all things considered. Yes, they gave up 27 points, but more than a few of those points were aided by Manuel interceptions. They held Mike Glennon to just 9-of-25 for 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns. You need look no further than that stat line to understand that turnovers played a part in the positioning game.
All things considered, the defense actually had a pretty good day for itself and was ultimately doomed by turnovers from the offense and unfair field positioning. There’s only so much you can do on that side of the ball, and they surrendered 246 total yards on the day. There’s only so much you can do in the face of five turnovers.
Bipolar Run Game
I understand that they trailed for most of this, but they ran the ball 22 times and got next to nothing out of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson in terms of rushing the ball. Heck, Manuel led the team with 29 yards rushing on the day. No wonder this team lost the way it did.
That being said, what is with this rushing attack over the last few weeks? They’re down, they’re up, they’re down. When they don’t perform, it’s more than noticeable. Like closer to “horrific” than anything else. When things aren’t going well they flat out disappear.
At this point it’s too late to hope for them to make a real difference. One would hope that head coach Doug Marrone will use the rest of the year to see what he can get out of Spiller heading into next year. Jackson won’t be around forever, and sooner than later Spiller will have to become “The Man”.