Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on October 19, 2015 · Page D6
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October 19, 2015

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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page D6

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Rochester, New York
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Monday, October 19, 2015
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D OVERALL Y et another disap- p ointing performance at home by the Bills, who clearly h ave lost their home- field advantage at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The only reason t his isn’t an “F” is because the Bills are severely depleted on offense, and the Ben- gals are a very good team, not to mention still undefeated. Win, lose, win, lose, win, l ose. Same old, same o ld. C- PASS OFFENSE E J Manuel was ex- a ctly who he was during his first year and a quarter as the B ills starter — maddeningly inconsistent. Accuracy was again an issue, and h e was fortunate his receivers made some great catches. Sammy Watkins was back for a half, then went out with an ankle injury and that really hurt. Charles Clay w as solid. C RUN OFFENSE L eSean McCoy was b ack and he ripped off a 33-yard run on his first carry and f inished with 90 yards and a touchdown. I was actually surprised he looked a s quick and nimble as he did, so perhaps that’s a good sign moving forward. No other back carried the ball, which isn’t a bad thing. C- PASS DEFENSE W here was the pass r ush? It was woefully inept, and Andy Dalton even remarked a fterward how surprised he was that Rex Ryan didn’t really come after h im. The secondary did a great job on A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert who were held in check, but Marvin Jones stung the Bills for 95 yards and a TD. C RUN DEFENSE O utside of Gio Bern ard’s 17-yard TD run on a third-and-1 when he was barely t ouched, the Bills were fine as they held the Bengals to 112 yards. Preston B rown and Nigel Bradham need to pick up their level of play. They’re playing every snap, and not showing up enough on key plays. F SPECIAL TEAMS T hree more penal- t ies, all of which played a major role in field position. T hese units need to be blown up and reset. Dan Carpenter can’t kick off as he h ad no touchbacks, which allowed the Bengals to pile up 84 yards on four kickoff returns. Punter Colton Schmidt was the lone bright spot, again. D COACHING W hat was Ryan doing w ith that defensive game plan? Dalton is aquarterback who c an be sacked, yet Ryan decided to back off far too often to play coverage. Greg R oman did what he could with EJ Manuel, but poor field position was a killer, not to mention injuries, which thinned the receiving corps. BILLS REPORT CARD › › › › › › › Page6D Monday,October19,2015 DemocratandChronicle. com BILLS *$%&!%#'()" -+"*').)$,(+#) -'&%),!/(+#) Three ... 1 . Can the Bills offensive line put together a complete game? I really thought the offensive line's performance would be a key factor in the outcome because Cincinnati's defense, while pretty good, is still prone to giving up yardage, sometimes in big chunks. T he thinking was that if the line could win up front, meaning open holes for LeSean McCoy, and protect EJ Manuel, the Bills might be able to extend drives, keep the Bengals offense off the field, and perhaps score enough points to win the game. However, poor f ield position limited what offensive coordinator Greg Roman could do as Buffalo's average drive start was it's own 15, and not once did it start a drive beyond its own 20. Further, once Sammy Watkins went down, joining Percy Harvin who didn't even dress, the passing g ame, already dealing with EJ Manuel's typical inaccuracy, was really hampered. 2. Will the Bills defense continue on an ascending path? No. In fact, it took a big step backward. This was a highly troubling performance by a unit that, no matter what Rex Ryan says, is just not very good right now. Ryan admitted he made a tactical error by not blitzing Andy Dalton more, but once upon a time, this front four used to sack quarterbacks with regularity and didn't need blitzes. Dalton is having a very nice year, but he's no Tom Brady, and the Bills should have been able to disrupt him more than they did. The secondary played very well, especially corners Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby. They did an outstanding job shutting down A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, but the front seven, which was supposed to be the strength of this defense, was nowhere to be found. Did Mario Williams even play? I know Jerry Hughes did because he had another penalty. I know Kyle Williams was out there, but only because he suffered a knee injury and I saw him lying on the ground. 3. What can the Bills get from their walking wounded? LeSean McCoy returned to action and had a pretty good game with 90 yards rushing and a touchdown. Sammy Watkins also scored a touchdown. And that's pretty much where the contributions ended. Watkins suffered an ankle injury while catching that touchdown passat the end of the first half and now it looks like he'll be sidelined again. We also learned before the game that Percy Harvin's ongoing hip issue flared up and he was unable to play. He could miss more time, just like Watkins. As expected, Tyrod Taylor did not play due to his sprained knee, and his status for next week in London against Jacksonville is iffy at best. And what would a Bills game be without an injury to Marquise Goodwin, who reinjured his ribcage. Ryan admitted afterward that he's flabbergasted by the injury bug and how it has ravaged his offense, and now the epidemic is spreading. Seantrel Henderson went out with a concussion, and defensive tackle Kyle Williams suffered a knee injury. 30 Minutes in time of possession for both teams, the first time since 1977 that has happened in aBills game. 12 Times in Bills history they have played a team with a 5-0 record or better, and they are now 3 -9 in those games. 61 Players in NFL history with 7,000 or more rushing yards, a milestone LeSean McCoy reached Sunday. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis on scoring to start the second half: "It was good to get the ball in the third quarter and drive d own. It put back the seven points after they got seven at the end of the second, so we kind of answered them right out of the l ocker room." Bengals WR A.J. Green on the play of WR Marvin Jones: "(Rex) didn't have an a nswer for him. It's good, Marvin plays his butt off and he had a great game today. We had some big plays from (Mohamed S anu), I had a big catch for us, and we are all just clicking and Andy spreads the ball around to a lot of different guys making plays." Bengals QB Andy Dalton on being 6-0: "You look at the schedule and see the start week and the bye and this is exactly what you want to be, undefeated into the bye. We can't look back to what we've done, we have to keep doing exactly what we have been doing and keep pushing to be the best we can be." –WR Sammy Watkins left the game at the end of the first half with an ankle injury and did not return. –WR Percy Harvin was inactive due to his ongoing hip injury. –QB Tyrod Taylor was inactive due to his sprained knee. –OT Seantrel Henderson left the game in the first quarter with a concussion and did not return. –DT Kyle Williams suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter and could be out several weeks. –WR Marquise Goodwin reinjured his ribs in the third quarter and could not continue. Three and out: These are the same old Bills Next game: vs. Jacksonville; 9:30 a.m. Sunday; Wembley Stadium, London Our Bills beat writer Sal Maiorana reviews and analyzes last week’s matchup Three ... Numbers ... Talking points ... I njury report ... Like many of you, I thought this season was going to be different for the Bills. There was a new and respected coach leading the way; a raw but exciting and potentially useful quarterback taking over an offense designed by a creative coordinator; new and dynamic weapons at running back, receiver, and tight end; and a defense returning mostly intact that was coming off one of the best seasons in recent Bills history. But six weeks into 2015, nothing looks different to me. The Bills are the same old Bills that we've become accustomed to over the past 15 non-playoff seasons, a team that just can't get out of its own way. Just when you want to believe fortunes are going to change, they lose three homes games by a combined 35 points, and the point differential probably shouldn't have been that close. Buffalo's offense has been overrun by injuries, the defense is vastly underper- forming, particularly the defensive line, and the special teams are downright horrible. Between the injuries, the penalties, the inconsistent play at quarterback, and a defense that suddenly can't sack a quarterback, it adds up to 3-3, and unless there's a drastic change, this team isn't going anywhere in January. ... and out JAMIE GERMANO/@JGERMANO1/JAMIE GERMANO/@JGERMANO1/, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Sammy Watkins was hurt after catching this touchdown in the second quarter. the business, but after watching his allegedly e lite defense get worked over by Andy Dalton and company, and seeing his offense continue to crumble under the weight of endless injuries, Ryan c ouldn't bring himself to be salty in defeat. He looked and sounded like a man searching for an- s wers that just aren't coming. "I think it’s affecting e verybody’s morale, mine included," Ryan said. "You have a vision of what this team can be when we’re healthy and it’s just frustrating because you don’t have your parts. I know w e can compete with any- b ody, but it just seems like we take a step forward and then we end up taking t wo steps back. It’s been a frustrating year and these injuries, it’s just amaz- i ng." He has a point regard- ing the injuries, and center Eric Wood agreed, say- i ng, "We've caught the in- j ury bug, and when it happens, they keep coming. Guys are going to have to step up because we have some big-time playmak- e rs getting hurt." As if the Bills' task of trying to beat one of the hottest teams in the league wasn't daunting enough, they had to do it w ithout quarterback Ty- rod Taylor, running back Karlos Williams, and wide receiver Percy Harvin. A nd then by halftime or shortly thereafter, they had to do it without wide r eceiver Sammy Watkins, who suffered an ankle injury, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (ribs), and offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson (concussion). Not to be left out, before t he day was done the inju- r y epidemic spread to the defensive side and down went tackle Kyle Williams w ith a knee injury that will surely sideline him next week in London. T he injuries are unfortunate, and moving for- ward the offense is not going to be functional be- c ause even with LeSean M cCoy back, the Bills will be hard-pressed to overcome the losses of Taylor, Watkins, Harvin, and Karlos Williams if that is the s ituation they find themselves in when they take on Jacksonville at Wembley Stadium. Ordinarily, Ryan might pooh-pooh the injuries be- c ause he could rely on his pride and joy defense to win ugly, low-scoring games, but right now, he c an't even do that. His defense was unmasked again Sunday by a quart erback playing at a high level, armed with talented players all around him. Tom Brady, Eli Manning, and now Andy Dalton, have had their way with Ryan's defense, and t hey did it right in front of t he home fans who have quickly grown tired of watching the Bills lose. T hose three have now produced 98 points combined, and they made it l ook pretty easy. "It's very disappoint- ing," said safety Corey Graham. "Every time you g o out there you want to h ave a dominant game, especially with the amount of talent that we have. We feel like we can go out there and do what we w ant, but today that wasn't the case. However you want to look at it, they made plays and we didn't. There were situations today where we were in the r ight position to make a play and we didn't, and you're not going to win games like that." R yan admitted that he didn't dial up enough pressure on Dalton, opting to p lay coverage against the Bengals troupe of targets including the great A.J. Green and the rising star tight end, Tyler Eifert. Green and Eifert were held in check, but with no p ass rush, Dalton seem- i ngly had all day to throw and he took advantage, particularly when he a imed it at Marvin Jones. The Bills survived a first half where the Beng als started five possessions near midfield or in- side Buffalo territory. Dalton directed two t ouchdown drives, and M ike Nugent kicked a 47- yard field goal, but when Manuel hit Watkins with a 22-yard touchdown pass 17 seconds before half- t ime, the Bills somehow were within 17-14. However, the Bills' enthusiasm – already tempered by the site of Watkins leaving the stadium o n crutches after hurting his ankle on that play – was further dimmed by Cincinnati's opening d rive to start the second half. Despite a penalty that pushed the Bengals b ack to the 10, Dalton marched them 90 yards, hitting Jones with a magnificent 42-yard pass, and then finding him over the middle for a 10-yard touchdown that effective- l y deflated the Bills for t he rest of the game. "We haven't proved anything," said linebacker P reston Brown of the Bills defense. "That was bad today, that was awful in the s econd half. They just go down and drive, score and score. We can't go out there and look like that." A s for Manuel, starting f or the first time since Week 4 of the 2014 season because of Taylor's ankle injury, things couldn't have started any better. H e engineered an 11-play, 80-yard drive after the opening kickoff, capping it with a 2-yard touchdown run. From then, it was shades of EJ past, t hrowing the ball inaccurately and failing to get the offense moving. "I just have to be more a ccurate and continue to work on those types of things and allow guys to c atch and run," Manuel said. "It’s been a long time (since his last start). I thought it went alright, but at the end of the day we didn’t win, and that’s the toughest part. Perform ance wise, of course t here are some things I wish that I could have done better, but I thought i t was solid." MAIORANA@gan- nett.com Bills Continued from Page 1D

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