The Buffalo Bills disappointing loss to the New England Patriots reminded me of an interview I watched with former Celtic great Bill Russell recently. Russell said that when coached he told his young players “As a professional athlete uou are being paid to win, not play”. Russell felt too many professional athletes today think that by playing the game they are earning their salary and of course the point is to play well enough to win. The Bills need to start playing well enough to win the big games.

Twice in the past four games the Bills have faced a top AFC foe on their home field in a game that carried significant playoff implications. In both cases they have played poorly and missed opportunities that would have propelled them to the top of their conference. It is time for this group of Buffalo Bills to win key head-to-head match-ups and not just show up. That goes for the Bills coaching staff as well.

In the first half of the Bills/Pats game the defense played well and the offense struggled. Three turnovers committed by the Bills and yet they only trailed by six and the game was well within reach.

The second half was a nightmare for the defense. Tom Brady picked apart the Bills secondary and his quick release took the starch out of the Bills pass rush. One would never know the Patriots had offensive line problems or that they lost  starting guard Dan Connolly in the first half they way Brady sat back in the pocket and fired strike after strike against the Bills. Coach Jim Schwartz went to a three man front on obvious passing downs to give him more defenders, but it seemed to backfire.

Offensively Kyle Orton shinned at times, but showed a complete lack of mobility against the New England pass rush. The run game was also stuffed for the fourth straight week, regardless of who was carrying the ball. Both issues stem from the fact the Bills offensive line is just plain bad.

Two years ago I would have said the Bills offensive line was one of the team’s strengths, today it may be the weakest link in the chain. On top of the poor play of the starters is the fact Doug Marrone refuses to play Kraig Urbik, despite the fact the team gave him a contract extension at the end of last season.

Speaking of Doug Marrone, his decision to bench Mike Williams in exchange for a third tight-end is very telling. Marrone wants a hard-nose, run the ball football team. Keeping a non-starting tight-end on the active roster instead of a starting receiver is shades of Vince Lombardi. The only problem is Lombardi coached forty-five years ago. To have the type of team Marrone wants he needs a big, strong, good “O” line. The Bills line is big, but not very good.

Another issue I have is the fact the Bills are unable to find situations to put players like Sammy Watkins and CJ Spiller in the open field. Fans scream about Spiller constantly trying to bounce his runs to the outside and I agree he should just put his head down at times and try to get what is there. But to use a back with Spiller’s speed and elusiveness to run between the Guards is in my opinion a waste of talent. Chan Gailey’s offense gave Spiller the opportunity to use that speed in the open field. Marrone’s offense utilizes Spiller the same way he uses Fred Jackson and Booby Dixon, two larger backs. It’s like hooking a racehorse up to a plow!

Regarding Sammy Watkins, I’m starting to wonder if Marrone was even on board with drafting the flashy receiver from Clemson. Watkins was hailed for his ability to run after the catch, but the Bills have done nothing to get him the ball outside of a traditional down-field pass route. Watkins was a non-factor against New England and the offense showed zero creativity in getting him into a game plan.

The Bills are 3-3 and have two very winnable games on the schedule in Minnesota and the Jets. Should they win both they will be 5-3 heading into the bye week and an outside shot at a wildcard berth. If the Bills are unable to win both games before the break I fear the wheels could come off in December and new owners Terry and Kim Pegula will have much easier decisions to make in the off-season.


Filed under: Koshinski's Korner

Tagged with:

Readers Comments (0)

Sorry, comments are closed on this post.