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Howard Simon's Blog

Kiss the Bills season goodbye

End scene.  It isn't official but for all intents and purposes, we can kiss the 2012 Buffalo Bills season goodbye. Good riddance too!

I was planning on spending my Sunday night looking at the remaining schedules of  teams in the hunt in the AFC wildcard race.  I wanted to see how they stacked up with the Bills.  If they had beaten the Colts, the Bills would have been one game behind Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati with 5 games to go.  But of course the Bills produced another day filled with head scratching coaching decisions and a slew of "what if plays" as they dropped to 4-7.  I quickly changed my thought process about the scoreboard and found bright spots like Cleveland and Jacksonville winning.  As we prepare for yet another December filled with meaningless Bills games, we're once again reduced to wondering whether or not they can improve their draft position. (insert your comment here about how it doesn't matter because they'll just mess the draft up anyway)

Once the game ended, I tried to figure out how the Bills had just lost. I have a lot of practice at that.  Its very simple.  They just aren't good enough.  They don't have a good enough Head Coach.  They don't have a good enough quarterback, and they don't have a complete defense.  How many times this season have the Bills put together a complete game? A game where you walked away feeling good across the board about the coaching, offense, defense and special teams? One? The week two victory over Kansas City? Maybe the win in Cleveland so two at the most.

Chan Gailey continues to add to the list of reasons to buy out the remaining two years of his contract.  I'll get to under utilizing C.J. Spiller in a moment because that has turned out to be a given.  Earlier this season Gailey said he isn't a fan of field goal attempts from 50+ yards.  Despite that, I still anticipated Rian Lindell trotting out on the field as the Bills faced 4th and 15 at the Colts 34 yard line, trailing 7-6 in the second quarter.  I scared the dog as I yelled at the TV "why the (expletive deleted) are you punting!!!!?" Gailey is a man of his word because the Bills haven't attempted a single field goal of at least 50 yards since the 2010 season.  

How do you run a team with the philosophy that you won't try a field goal unless the ball gets to at least the opponents 32 yard line? Perhaps Lindell's leg strength is the issue and the Bills don't believe he can make that kick anymore.  If so then why is he on this team? Hey Buddy, cut Lindell and bring in a kicker who can make( or at least try) a field goal longer than 49 yards!

During the post game press conference when Gailey was asked about his thought process, he said "he(Lindell) might make it, he might not." Faced with the idea of a 50+ yard attempt, Gailey(whose record with the Bills is now 14-29) said he thinks its better to play for field position.  So the Bills get a 24 yard punt and put the Colts back at their 11 yard line.  The defense then proceeds to give up an 82 yard drive ending in a field goal.  Instead of perhaps being down 7-6, the Bills now trail 10-3.

Now to the weekly "they didn't use Spiller enough" portion of the show.  Gailey said he was trying to strike a balance between passes and the number of times they handed the ball to Spiller.  I better check the definition of balance because I didn't think it meant a more than 2 to 1 ratio.  Ryan Fitzpatrick threw 33 passes while Spiller carried 14 times and not once in the final 13 1/2 minutes of the game.  It kind of reminded me of the Houston game when the Bills again declined to use their most dynamic offensive weapon.  Spiller's last run came with 13:33 remaining in the 4th quarter.  From that point on the Bills would have 14 more plays on offense but none were put in the hands of a running back who averaged over 7 yards a carry.  Spiller had runs of 41, 23, 13 and 11 so 4 of his 14 carries went for more than 10 yards.  

Perhaps the most puzzling moment came with 9:31 left and the Bills offense getting the ball at the Colts 25 yard line.  Buffalo had scored a touchdown on its previous possession, one that began with the 41 yard run by Spiller, to pull within 20-13.  The defense forced a three and out with Mario Williams getting a huge sack on third and three.  Momentum seemed to be swinging to the Bills and yet Spiller is standing on the sideline as the drive begins.  I don't know the exact play Spiller was sent out but he didn't get a touch until the 10th play of the drive.  A screen pass to Spiller lost 2 yards and a 3rd and 8 pass for Spiller was incomplete.  The Bills faced a 4th and 8 at the Colts 49 yard line with 3:31 to go, punted the ball away and never got it back.

Now we come to Fitzpatrick and the ever increasing list of throws he misses and points the Bills leave on the field.  Who knows how the game turns out if Fitzpatrick was accurate enough on two of his deeper attempts of the game.  He hit Stevie Johnson with a perfect pass on what turned into a 63 yard play but two misses came back to haunt the offense on a day it managed just one touchdown in 11 possessions and 13 points against a defense that was giving up an average of 26 points a game.

In the first quarter with Indy up 7-0, Spiller ran a route down the right sideline and got behind the defense.  If Fitzpatrick hits him, Spiller blows down the sideline for an easy score.  Fitzpatrick over threw Spiller and the drive ends with a field goal.

In the second quarter, Donald Jones beats his man down the left sideline and it appears once again that an on target throw would have been cashed in for a touchdown but once again Fitzpatrick misses his man.  He had to step around some pressure but still had time to set and throw yet he was high and wide with the pass.  The Bills get no points at all as the drive ends with a punt.

I can't find much fault with the defense since they did give up just one touchdown while also recording 4 sacks and an interception although Justin Rogers got lucky on that play.  He was beaten by Reggie Wayne but a bad pass from Andrew Luck went off Wayne and into the hands of Rogers.  Mario Williams had a tremendous game with 3 sacks.  Buffalo held the Colts running backs to 67 yards on 23 carries.  But Indy was 8-16 on third down and on the only drive when their offense produced a touchdown, the Colts converted on third and six(twice), third and 17 and third and goal from the eight yard line.

In the losing locker room, Gailey  told his team the goal is to get to 7-7 because "thats where the world champs were last year".  My goal is to see the day when I have faith in a Bills Head Coach to make the right moves more often than not and to see a coach who coaches to win as opposed to coaching not to lose.  My goal is to see a quarterback who can singlehandedly win games for the Bills.  My goal is to see meaningful December games.  That's where world champs are but the Bills are FAR from there.

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People : Andrew LuckChan GaileyDonald JonesJ. SpillerJustin RogersMario WilliamsReggie WayneRian LindellRyan FitzpatrickStevie Johnson

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