After some tinkering with their defensive formation and a fast start, it looked like things could be changing for the Bills.
Ultimately, however, it was a case of same old, same old, as they struggled to stop the run and went down to the Jaguars.
Jacksonville continues to build momentum in a competitive AFC South, with a series of strong all round displays — and it got a big lift from one of its biggest question marks — but it’s not as if the team is not without its problems.
Jacksonville: Three performances of note
If only LT Eugene Monroe (+3.7) could play the Bills every week. After struggling badly in the past couple of weeks, he put forth a near-perfect display, giving up just one quarterback pressure. His run blocking was a highlight as well, something that couldn’t be said of the Jaguars’ guards. We saw three of them in action on Sunday and they combined for a -9.4 rating.
It was an intriguing move at the start of the season when the Jaguars invested in the rebuilt knee of DE Aaron Kampman (+3.6). And the ironman who rarely comes off the field (not at all in this one) is repaying that faith with two sacks (we don’t award half-sacks, remember) and two hits. He added a batted pass and a further two defensive stops. He’ll have better pass-protection units to face than the Bills, but he’s added another dimension to what was a lackluster pass rush.
After fumbling a punt return, you might think that it wasn’t going to be Mike Thomas‘ (+1.7) day. But the plucky youngster redeemed himself with a number of tough catches (four balls caught from four targets) and his end-arounds kept the Bills off-guard all game (his three attempts brought 53 yards). He’s handling the starting duties ably so far.
Buffalo: Three performances of note
You know why the Bills traded away Marshawn Lynch when you watch Fred Jackson (+1.6) run. He worked extremely well with lead-blocker Corey McIntyre (+2.2) in this one, averaging 6.1 yards per attempt. It says something about his ability that he forced five missed tackles in just 14 carries and picked up 64.38 percent of his yards after contact. It was also a pleasant surprise to see his pass blocking improve (he gave up no pressure for a change).
We don’t know if the Bills’ new four-man defensive line is here to stay, but it only served to highlight that they have one excellent player on their defensive line and not much else. Kyle Williams (+4.2) made life extremely hard for the Jaguars’ guards, clogging up running lanes and getting to the ball carrier more than times than you’d expect (three defensive stops). If only the rest of the defensive line had something near his talent level.
After grading out well in 2009, it’s been a tough 2010 for Paul Posluszny (-2.1). Whether it’s the new scheme, injury or just a regression in his play, he’s not the player he was last year. While not terrible by any means, he was the weak link in the pass-coverage unit, surrendering six of seven balls thrown his way for 50 yards and a touchdown. We wonder just how comfortable he is in this defense.
Running back Deji Karim (+0.9) had a good debut for Jacksonville, picking up 70 yards and showing some shiftiness to force two missed tackles. … Better day for Tyson Alualu (+1.1), who was more active against the run, even if he struggled to get any pressure. … Larry Hart (+0.1) got one pressure on his 13 snaps, while Austen Lane was ineffective on his four snaps.
Torell Troup (-0.8) wasn’t terrible but didn’t have much of an impact in 48 snaps, while in less than a tenth of that number of snaps Alex Carrington was able to make a very nice defensive stop. … Cord Howard (0.0) got action at both tackle spots, giving up a quarterback hit. … David Nelson (+0.1) caught all three balls thrown his way. … C.J. Spiller had a quiet game on offense and special teams.
The Bills’ pass rush managed just ten total pressures. … With Daryl Smith coming off near the end for two snaps, Kirk Morrison (who is seen as a two-down linebacker) was one of only three Jaguars players in for every snap.