ReFo: Bills @ Jaguars, Week 15
In what boils down to a meaningless game for both teams (other than draft position and player development), the Bills came out with the road win and halted Jacksonville’s three game win streak. The game was close throughout, with Buffalo’s plus two turnover differential playing a key role. Even so, Jacksonville had two chances to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t put the ball in the end zone.
Looking at the grades, you’d think the Bills won in a landslide rather than 27-20, but that just goes to show that a couple of key plays can turn the game. Which ones turned this one? Let’s take a look.
Buffalo – Three Performances of Note
Showing his Worth
An underrated offseason acquisition for the Bills this season has been the pickup of pass rusher Jerry Hughes, who’s finally starting to resemble a first round pick in his reserve role. He finished at +4.0 on the day, collecting a sack, three hits, two hurries, and a batted pass in just 23 snaps rushing the passer. Hughes lined up primarily on the defensive right side at DRE or ROLB (20 of 34 snaps), but made an impact from both sides. The second quarter proved especially fruitful for the fourth year rusher; at 13:03, he got inside of right tackle Austin Pasztor to take drop Chad Henne. Hughes then reached the backfield on consecutive plays later in the quarter again using an inside move versus right tackle at 0:57. On the next play, however, he did it from the other side, bull rushing LT Cameron Bradfield into Henne for the knockdown.
Not surprising for a rookie, Robert Woods (+2.6) has had a roller coaster season, with this week being one of his better games after a -1.5 showing in Week 14. Lining up almost equally at left wide receiver and right wide receiver, Woods caught five of six targets – all five good for either a first down or touchdown – for 82 yards in 31 routes. Like his teammate Hughes, he also had an impressive second quarter, first getting into the end zone on a hitch (2Q, 7:12) and then on the team’s next drive making an impressive catch an out (4:35). Woods was a bright spot in a passing attack that was otherwise limited, with the Buffalo offense gaining more yards on the ground than through the air.
A big day for several young members of the Buffalo secondary, as Nickell Robey, Leodis McKelvin, and Stephon Gilmore combined to grade at +5.9 overall. Starting with Robey, he was largely unassuming in coverage, surrendering three receptions for 44 yards. His big play came at the end of the second quarter (0:33) when he forced and recovered a fumble, setting his team up for a late-half field goal. Likewise McKelvin gave up just three catches for 28 yards and forced a Mike Brown fumble of his own (3Q, 11:12). Gilmore has had his ups and downs returning from injury, and that was true of this game as well. He allowed just 31 yards on four catches, though several gained a first down. Like his teammates, he was able to make a splash play with a red zone interception late in the fourth quarter. He’ll need to clean up the penalties, however, as he picked up a DPI in this game and has now been flagged six times for the season.
Jacksonville – Three Performances of Note
Too Easily Sealed
The Bills were able to rack up 200 yards on the ground with an average of 4.5 yards per rush, in part due to the poor run defense by Sen’Derrick Marks and Tyson Alualu. While no play was particularly egregious, Marks was often too easily sealed by LG Doug Legursky and RG Kraig Urbik, though he returned the favor against Urbik late in the game (4Q, 2:26). Alualu found himself on the losing end more often than not in his battles versus tight end Scott Chandler and tackle Cordy Glenn. It’s a shame he couldn’t face Legursky more often, as he beat the guard for a tackle as well as his lone hit rushing the passer (2Q, 0:26). Fortunately for the Jaguars, this game appears to be somewhat of an aberration for Marks, though he has been much stronger rushing the passer than defending the run. Much of the same for Alualu, who’s now at 0.0 for the season in run defense; unfortunately his pass rush leaves much to be desired.
Though he wasn’t terrible for most of the game, keeping his team fairly competitive throughout, a handful of negative plays from Chad Henne (-3.4) cost the Jaguars big, especially late in the game. His interception on the third offensive play gave Buffalo an early leg up, though the Bills were forced to settle for a field goal. Bad Henne reared his head again in the fourth quarter when on consecutive plays in the red zone, his passes found the hands of defenders; on the first (4Q, 3:25), receiver Mike Brown (who “chipped in” with two fumbles himself) saved what would have been an interception on a poorly thrown back-shoulder fade. On the second, his receiver couldn’t quite get to the overthrown pass, which ended up in the hands of Stephon Gilmore in the back of the end zone.
Mixed Bag on the Line
One of the few bright spots for the Jaguars, RG Uche Nwaneri was a big part of the team averaging more than five yards per carry on the ground. He didn’t make any highlight-reel blocks, but consistently made successful seals both at the line and at the second level versus Kiko Alonzo. And in pass protection he allowed just a single QB hit in more than 46 pass blocking snaps.
On the other side was left tackle Cameron Bradfield who was a sieve for much of the game. Although facing Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes on an island can potentially make a lot of players look bad. Bradfield allowed six pressures on the day (one sack, four hits, one hurry), and it was the hits allowed on Henne that were particularly concerning. Making his performance look even worse, just two quarterbacks got rid of the ball quicker this week than Henne’s average time to attempt of 2.11 seconds. The left tackle had a particularly rough stretch late in the second quarter, including getting beaten by Williams on consecutive plays at 1:09 and 1:03.
– Jim Leonhard only played 10 snaps, but graded at +2.1, picking up a stop in run defense and a pass defense on his single target in primary coverage.
– Tackle Cordy Glenn surrendered one or fewer combined pressures for the seventh time this season; part of the reason he’s our eight-highest graded left tackle on the season.
– The two defenses combined to miss just six tackles.
PFF Game Ball
This one goes to Jerry Hughes for his six combined pressures and batted pass in 23 snaps rushing the passer.
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