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NFL Buffalo BillsJacksonville Jaguars

What We Learned From Buffalo Bills in Week 15 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Manuel

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, the Buffalo Bills improved to 5-9, but who even cares?

If anything, their win Sunday did nothing other than hurt their draft position. When you hit the 4-9 mark on the season you should really be playing to get a better draft pick. If you hit a high draft pick it could change the direction of your franchise. And if you miss? Well, then you still suck and nothing changes. It’s not like Bills fans have grown accustomed to being relevant or anything over the last 15 years.

Still, I can’t be too mad at the Bills for winning. That’s kind of the point, after all. It’s just frustrating to be a part of another crappy season and wonder if and when you should ever put real hope into this team again. You keep telling yourself that there will come a day when you can have hope that the Bills will come through and you won’t be burned for being so stupid, but will that day come? I’ve been a fan of Buffalo sports for 28 years and outside of a few years here and there have no reason to believe that will ever come to fruition.

Enough Debbie Downer attitude; let’s see what we learned from the Bills’ 27-20 win on Sunday.

Hooray! He Doesn’t Suck (this week)!

To say that the last few weeks have been rocky for rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel would be an understatement. He threw four interceptions in a loss last week — easily the worst game of his short career.

As the Jaguars are one to do, they helped give Manuel one of his best performances on the season. He finished the day 17-of-24 with 193 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns. He ran for a third on the day and also got his first road win in five starts.

“The Jaguars are terrible” caveats apply, but this is obviously better than the alternative. Manuel has shown signs of life at various points of the season, and it’s going to be really interesting to see how he looks next year when he has a year of experience under his belt and (hopefully) stays healthy for a full year.

I don’t know if the Bills have found their franchise player at quarterback, but he’s certainly got more potential than anyone they’ve trotted out there over the last decade or so.

It’s Alive!

Hey, remember how the Bills at one point had one of the best running games in the league? Remember how it just kinda fell apart for awhile and neither Fred Jackson nor C.J. Spiller could do much of anything?

Well the running game at least looked competent on Sunday, racking up 198 yards on the ground. It took them 44 attempts – Jackson took the rock 17 times for 80 yards while Spiller got it 13 times for 67 yards – but at 4.5 yards per attempt, it’s hard to complain about that sort of production. It certainly made life easier for Manuel.

Like any other aspect of the Bills, it’s been tough to find consistency with this unit. They’re either racking up a ton of yards or they are being shut down and neutralized from the start. That’s part of the reason a team ends up 5-9.

A Step Away

Man, oh man, if the Bills could stop the run, they’d be a formidable defense. On a day where they collected five sacks and four turnovers, they still only won by a touchdown because they gave up 159 yards on the ground, including 109 from Jordan Todman.

I don’t know what the issue is at this point, be it personnel or scheme, but this has been a problem for the Bills for a few years now even as they’ve added talent and improved the other aspects of their defense like pass defense and rushing the quarterback.

Hopefully that will be one of the first things they address in the offseason because the defense will not hit that elite level if they can’t shut down the most pedestrian of rushing attacks.