ReFo: Bills @ Buccaneers, Week 14
This matchup featured two struggling teams and to say you could tell would be an understatement. Expectations for rookie quarterbacks have been elevated to absurd levels after the success of last year’s crop but Mike Glennon and EJ Manuel’s struggles were concerning to say the least. Despite what the statistics might say, Glennon was particularly poor, forcing balls consistently into coverage. Manuel made a number of mistakes himself but also proved somewhat unlucky in ending up with four picks. One interception bounced directly off Stevie Johnson’s hands, while another was actually secured by his receiver only for a big hit to pop it into the air for the turnover. Both teams were incredibly sloppy with penalties and drops coming at an alarming rate.
Clearly Buffalo and Tampa have a long way to go before they’re ready for contention, and questions remain as to whether Greg Schiano will still be around to try next year. While his credentials as a head coach may be questionable, he’s responsible for a defense that is playing at a high level. It helps having potentially the most disruptive interior defensive lineman in the entire NFL in Gerald McCoy (more on him later), but combining a strong interior presence with fast, instinctive linebackers makes the Bucs tough to run on. Tampa’s defense do an especially good job with stunts making it incredibly difficult to get to the second level to block Mason Foster and Lavonte David. In fact the Bills use a similar method to free up Kiko Alonso with Marcel Dareus and Kyle Williams beating up on interior offensive lineman at the line of scrimmage. Dareus was on top form once again while Williams had a rare inconsistent day. Let’s take a more detailed look at some of the aforementioned performances.
Buffalo – Three Performances of Note
CJ Spiller (-1.2) is so talented it’s frustrating to see how little production he gets at times. Against Tampa Bay he had just 19 yards (12 after contact) on 11 carries and failed to force a missed tackle. His tendency to bounce runs outside often acts to the team’s detriment. While it might lead to highlight reel plays occasionally, on the whole the Bills’ offense suffers because of it. Take, for example, his run at 7.35 in the third quarter with Buffalo facing second and one. The Bills aimed the run over left guard with Doug Legursky blocking down and Eric Wood pulling behind him and up through the hole. Legursky threw a really nice block and knocked defensive tackle Akeem Ayers down. Cordy Glenn had good, inside, position on the defensive end and Wood was left unimpeded to come at speed to the second level. TJ Graham also got inside Darelle Revis leaving a nice crease for Spiller to hit. Instead, Spiller bounced wide making it easy for Revis to come up and push him out of bounds for no gain setting up third down. In contrast Spiller showed what he can do when he gets north-south in the receiving game. The Bills called a screen at the perfect time and Spiller put on a great move to escape a tackle in the backfield, made a nice cut to get into the open field and then showed his speed to get to the endzone (Q4, 14.25). Now the play was called back for holding but it just goes to show how much of a difference getting upfield can make. To conclude a disappointing day, Spiller seemed not to see a blitzing Foster in pass protection allowing an unblocked hit.
Gilmore’s Best Game
It hasn’t been a great start to Stephon Gilmore’s NFL career, but he played his best game as a pro against the Bucs (+4.0). He allowed only one catch on five targets for 10 yards with an interception and pass deflection. The pick was a thing of beauty as he had perfect position on Steven Jackson and out-jumped the big wide out to come down with the ball despite significant contact (Q2, 7.07). It’s not often that Jackson gets outmuscled for a downfield pass, but Gilmore did so and made the catch to boot. His pass deflection came in similar circumstances as he ran stride for stride downfield against a good route and then remained patient turning at the perfect moment to get his hands up for the bat down. Aside from the two big plays he forced another incompletion with close coverage but did give up a first down when he was called for holding in the fourth quarter. Gilmore’s only contribution in the run game was a tackle close to the line of scrimmage.
What Happened With Williams?
It wasn’t a terrible game by any stretch of the imagination for Kyle Williams (+0.1) but I’ve come to expect more. Williams was as active as ever but at times that worked to his detriment as his aggressiveness opened gaping holes behind him. A great example is the Bucs’ second offensive play of the game where, despite generating vertical movement against Jamon Meredith, Williams failed to force a cut from Bobby Rainey, making it very difficult for Alonso to make the tackle. 80 yards later Tampa had a 6-0 lead. Overall though Williams graded positively against the run (+1.0) — he made three stops in 29 snaps and generally drawing extra attention — proving disruptive as he generally is. It was as a pass rusher that the Bills’ defensive tackle was surprisingly quiet (-1.1). He had only a hit and two hurries in 27 rushes, but looking closer at the hurries one of those came unblocked and the other late in the play in garbage time. Even his hit was not totally convincing as Williams fell on his way to the quarterback and only knocked Glennon down as his momentum took him into the QB.
Tampa Bay – Three Performances of Note
Gerald McCoy (+7.5) was an absolute monster against the Bills and this wasn’t even his best game of the season. As a pass rusher McCoy had a sack, a hit, five hurries and a batted pass in 48 rushes. The numbers don’t tell the whole story though as McCoy had another pair of pressures negated by penalty. That essentially means he was influencing the play as a pass rusher every five snaps. Kraig Urbik especially will be glad to see the back of McCoy who gave him fits throughout the game. His hit was one of his highlights as he just blew past the Bills OG to knock Manuel down (Q4, 13.42). Although he wasn’t as disruptive in the run game, McCoy still made his presence felt, recording three defensive stops. His absurd strength was on display on one play with 12.33 to play in the first when he drove Urbik three yards into the backfield, shed him inside and made the tackle after only a one yard gain. Overall McCoy graded negative just twice and he could have graded even higher if the game had been competitive for longer. McCoy is now far and away our best graded interior defensive lineman, grading in the green in all but two games so far this season.
Darrelle Revis (+3.2) wasn’t playing to his potential in recent weeks, grading in the red against both the Lions and Panthers. That all changed against Buffalo, as he not only looked his dominant self against the pass, but also got involved in the run game. The former Jet had a pair of defensive stops in that facet of his play and generally looked motivated to prove himself after being forced to leave the game last week through injury. In coverage Revis allowed just one completion on three targets. His highlight play reads an incompletion on the stat sheet but it was much more impressive than that as he reacted to a crossing route by absolutely teeing off on the receiver coming towards him, causing the ball to go flying into the air where it was intercepted. One of the only criticisms with Revis is there are times when he tends to lack a little physicality, but that certainly wasn’t the case in this game as he looked aggressive throughout. It seems the temporary blip may well be over.
Ugly Game by Glennon
It’s been an inconsistent start in the NFL for Mike Glennon (-5.1) and this was one of the lowest points. He generally looked off throughout completing just nine of 20 attempts for 90 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions (discounting throw aways, batted passes and drops). The touchdown he threw to Vincent Jackson was more of a jump ball that the big wideout was unsurprisingly able to adjust to better than the corner. Give him credit for identifying the single coverage but the throw was certainly nothing special. Surprisingly Glennon actually fared better under pressure (although that’s not saying much) completing four of 11 passes for 50 yards, two touchdowns and one pick compared with 5/14 for 40 with 1 INT. The interception he threw to Jairus Byrd was simply a terrible decision with terrible location. His receiver was double covered and he put the ball inside exactly where Byrd was standing. It could have been worse too as Glennon tried an ill-advised flip under pressure which hit Nigel Bradham’s back. He also threw a pass that had the potential to be picked but for the defender falling down. Overall this was a mark against Glennon’s credentials as a starting quarterback.
– Glennon failed to complete a single pass on targets outside the numbers to the left.
– Tiquan Underwood finished with 0 catches on fives targets and a drop.
– Jerry Hughes amassed more pressure (three hurries) on 15 rushes than Mario Williams (one hurry) did on 22 rushes.
Gerald McCoy and it’s not even close.
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