3TFO: Bills @ Buccaneers, Week 14
Gonzalo Estrade writes that the Bills' offensive line will have its hands full trying to contain the Bucs' Gerald McCoy, especially in passing situations.
3TFO: Bills @ Buccaneers, Week 14
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills suffered bad losses in Week 13. The Bucs put an end to their three-game winning streak in Carolina scoring only six points and the Bills came strong after their bye week with an early lead of 14-0 in the first quarter just to see the Falcons come back and get the win in Toronto in overtime. Both teams are third from bottom in their conference and their focus seems to be on the next season already although Buffalo is two games out of the final wild card spot in the AFC and they have a small but real chance to make it.
The highest-rated cornerback of the season Darrelle Revis (+14.9) and the Bills’ Stevie Johnson (+3.8) used to face off in one of the most interesting matchups in the AFC East and they’ll face each other again this Sunday in Tampa Bay. Johnson gave Revis a lot of problems with his excellent footwork in the past so it’ll be the best opportunity to see if Revis is all the way back. That won’t be the only battle on the field, here are three other matchups that could determine the outcome of Sunday’s game.
Gerald McCoy vs. Bills Interior Offensive Line
Despite not getting much help from his fellow linemen – he is the only one with a positive grade – Gerald McCoy (+45.9) is completing an impressive season, improving his numbers from 2012. He is the highest-rated defensive tackle grading at +41.2 in pass rushing. That grade puts him at the level of the great J.J. Watt as one of the best interior rushers in the league. Coming from an amazing run in November when he graded out at +24.5 and posted 29 total pressures over four games, his performance vs. Carolina was kind of a letdown as he recorded only three hurries and no tackles in an uncharacteristic showing in run defense. He still managed to score +2.5 in pass rushing and handled the Panthers’ guards and center in passing plays so it was just a matter of production.
The Bills’ trio that will carry out the task of dealing with McCoy starts with Eric Wood at center. Wood has the third-lowest grade in run blocking and the fourth-highest in pass blocking among centers. He’s given up 10 total pressures, good for a 98.4 in Pass Blocking Efficiency. Doug Legursky and Kraig Urbik are tied for 10th in Pass Blocking Efficiency among guards at 97.1 and they have allowed just one sack and seven hurries together in the last five games. This trend will have a great test against McCoy who, just like these three players, is playing better in passing plays than rushing. Will McCoy recover from his bad outing in run defense vs. the Panthers? Will the Bills’ trio be able to control McCoy and keep him out of the backfield? Who wins this matchup will be the key in this side of the field.
E.J. Manuel vs. Mike Glennon
The first and third selected quarterbacks in the 2013 NFL Draft cross their paths this Sunday for the first time in their careers. E.J. Manuel got the starting spot since the beginning of the season while Mike Glennon had to wait until Week 4 but both have played more or less the same number of games so let’s take a look at how they are faring so far and how they can help their teams win this game – or at least avoid putting them in position to lose.
Manuel (-19.4) is the second-worst-graded quarterback – right behind another rookie, Geno Smith – and had only one game ‘in the green’ so far, the first one of the season vs. New England. He is much more comfortable when throwing quick passes that allows him getting into rhythm. Last week vs. Atlanta, Manuel threw 12 times when he had 2.6 seconds or more and completed just four of them with a rating of 54.5. When the Time in Pocket was 2.5 seconds or less he completed 70% of his passes with a rating of 106.0. For the season, Manuel has a 64.9% and 96.4 rating in shorter dropbacks to 48.5% and 62.0 in longer ones.
For the last few weeks, Glennon started to look much better than he did in his first games having just one negative grade since Week 9 but it changed last Sunday in Carolina when he had to deal with one of the most fearsome defensive lines in the league. He was under pressure in 66.7% of his dropbacks, completed 50% of his passes and earned a grade of -4.3. Glennon is used to throwing under duress as he is the third-most pressured quarterback in the league, 45% of his dropbacks were under pressure. For a quarterback that barely has a clean pocket, Glennon does a great job of making the most of those situations and he just needs to avoid mistakes when the defense gets to him.
Bills Backfield vs. Buccaneers Linebackers
The combo of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller accounts for the fourth-best running offense in terms of total yardage but they are not performing as well as that number suggests. Despite being limited by injuries, Spiller is not close to last season when he was among the best running backs as he ranks 51st out of 52 running backs in rushing grade. He showed flashes last week vs. the Falcons, forcing seven missed tackles on the ground and gaining 91 yards after contact in 15 carries. Jackson isn’t explosive and quick like Spiller but he’s being consistent earning a +3.8 grade for the season with only one red grade coming in Week 3.
The linebackers are led by Lavonte David (+17.4) who is one the few Bucs’ defenders with a positive grade this season. He also ranks in the Top 5 among 4-3 outside linebackers in all three areas – run defense, coverage, and pass rushing. Focusing on the run, David has 40 defensive stops which is the highest for any defensive player in the league and has missed only three tackles good for sixth-best in Tackling Efficiency. At middle linebacker, Mason Foster is the opposite in the run defense rankings. His grade vs. the run is -7.3 – 42nd out of 52 inside linebackers; has 10 missed tackles and is tied for 32nd in Run Stop Percentage at 8.5. With Spiller hot from his last game, the Bucs can’t afford to let him work his magic against them.
Follow Gonzalo on Twitter: @PFF_Gonzalo