While the players on the offensive side of the ball impressed, some on the defensive side at one position in particular had a plainly average week at best.
Who stood out? Let's take a look
If you missed the first two installments, here are the links:
Upon Further Review- Bills OL & DL vs Browns
Upon Further Review- Bills LBs, RBs & TEs vs Browns
Time on Field: 100% snaps played; 70 total
Stats: 22-of-35, 208 yards, 3 TD; 6 carries, 10 yards
Observations: While he still showed some of the same inaccuracy that plagued him at times against the Jets and Chiefs, Ryan Fitzpatrick came out and had his best performance of the 2012 season versus Cleveland. His intelligence on the field really stood out, constantly finding the busted coverages done by the sub-par Cleveland secondary. He took advantage of it on his first touchdown to T.J. Graham, when two linebackers followed Scott Chandler to the left and one of them ran directly in to Buster Skrine, who just so happened to be covering Graham on the play. He missed a couple of big opportunities to settle for more covered ones, while still having more time in the pocket. That's where Fitzpatrick's internal clock in the pocket is both a good and bad thing. Yes, he doesn't take many sacks (or in 2012's case, not a single one), but he might miss a big play opportunity. In the first quarter, Fitzpatrick settled for a short throw to Scott Chandler which ended up being a completion. Had he waited and scanned the field an extra half-of-a-second, he would have seen T.J. Graham behind not only the left cornerback in the Browns' zone look, but the safety T.J. Ward had already committed to running up to Chandler before Fitzpatrick even cocked his arm back. It would have been a touchdown. Another less obvious opportunity missed happened in the third quarter. It was a high throw to Stevie Johnson that resulted in an incompletion, but Donald Jones came free on a post on the right side with safety Usama Young committed to the left half of the field. It would have taken a perfect throw, but Fitzpatrick is at his best when throwing to the middle of the field. The Bills' starting quarterback did very well putting the ball on the money on all but one of his screen passes, giving C.J. Spiller and T.J. Graham a fine opportunity for a run after catch. The one to Spiller resulted in the touchdown. He also seemed to be in sync with Stevie Johnson, hitting him in stride for some big gains and a touchdown. While he still threw it behind his receivers at times which opened them up to taking big hits from defenders, Fitzpatrick still did more things right. A solid Sunday afternoon.
Season GPA: 2.49
Time on Field: 94.3% snaps played; 66 total
Stats: 7 receptions, 61 yards, TD
Observations: After noticing it on the field on Sunday, initial analysis that Stevie Johnson had a little more of a spring to his step in the Cleveland game was evident on tape. It seemed like Johnson was back to his old ways, keeping defenders guessing as to where his next move would be. That was especially evident on his touchdown reception, coming almost to a complete stop before crossing over his defender to get open on the slant route. Johnson was hit for a couple of holding penalties that took away bigger gains, including the play in which C.J. Spiller injured his shoulder.
Season GPA: 3.11
Time on Field: 94.3% snaps played; 66 total
Stats: 5 receptions, 42 yards
Observations: Donald Jones continues to prove that he's put the drops problem he had leading up to his injury in 2011 to rest. To start off the game, Jones had the ball thrown behind him. Not only did he make the catch on both, he took a huge hit on the first while in a vulnerable position. Jones also shows versatility to help in run blocking when coming in motion. He may have missed his mark a couple of times, but the wideout can be depended on by the Bills in run blocking more than any other at his position.
Season GPA: 3.01
Time on Field: 55.7% snaps played; 39 total
Stats: 3 receptions, 24 yards, TD
Observations: It's clear as day that the Bills are creeping up towards entrusting T.J. Graham with the full-time duties as the Z-receiver when in a three-wide set. In Week Two, Graham only played 47.2-percent of the snaps. Against Cleveland in Week Three, Graham was up to 55.7-percent. As his production continues to rise, that number will only increase while the rookie becomes more and more comfortable with the offense. Graham was granted a gift for his first ever touchdown on the complete bust in coverage, but it was his efforts in yards after the catch on a pair of screen plays.
Season GPA: 3.07
Time on Field: 30% snaps played; 21 total
Stats: 2 carries, 6 yards
Observations: Brad Smith and the Wildcat formation made a return in Week Three, and the results were not all that impressive. Smith also lined up as the Z-receiver on some plays, but failed to be targeted once by Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Season GPA: 2.33
RCB Stephon Gilmore
Time on Field: 100% snaps played; 60 total
Stats: 1 tackle (solo)
Observations: This is the second time in three games that Stephon Gilmore has played in every single defensive snap for the Buffalo Bills. Being the rookie that he is, Gilmore was taken advantage of in certain spots. The first-round pick got himself turned around, and misplayed the Browns' biggest gain of the day. There was some confusion leading up to the play, but Gilmore didn't feel the route run by Travis Benjamin that went for a touchdown and was nowhere close. He was taken out on a pair of plays in run support, once by a cut block and the other just not anticipating a cutback and going to a position of rest (Trent Richardson's touchdown run). Gilmore did show the ability to recover even after getting turned around. He's young and talented, and just needs to iron out the wrinkles of his game.
Season GPA: 2.45
SS George Wilson
Time on Field: 93.3% snaps played; 56 total
Stats: 7 tackles (all solo)
Observations: The steady George Wilson showed up with another solid outing as the Bills' strong safety. He showed up very well in coverage in the second half when the Browns had all but given up on running the ball. He'll have a faulty step here or there that will take him out of the play and he isn't the fastest safety to get to the ball while in Cover-2, but Wilson's instincts will keep him where he needs to be.
Season GPA: 2.90
FS Jairus Byrd
Time on Field: 90% snaps played; 54 total
Stats: 3 tackles (all solo), TFL
Observations: Of all the players on the field for the Bills in Cleveland, Jairus Byrd was the best. Tackling, making reads to stop screen plays, anticipating the throw to have a would-be interception (if it weren't for Aaron Williams' illegal contact penalty), everything Byrd did on Sunday was top notch. He had to come out for a few plays just because of his ankle injury heading in, but Byrd got back to the form from 2011 despite the ailment.
Season GPA: 3.20
NCB Justin Rogers
Time on Field: 65% snaps played; 39 total
Stats: 4 tackles (all solo)
Observations: For a smaller player, Justin Rogers is surprisingly consistent at making open-field tackles on the ball carrier. That was the strongest part about his game against Cleveland, while mixing in a pass breakup as well. Where he struggles as the nickel corner is getting picked by a crossing receiver and the defender trailing that man. Rogers was picked, legally, three separate times against the Browns which led to some separation over the middle of the field between he and his assignment. Even still, Rogers has been a big upgrade over Leodis McKelvin.
Season GPA: 2.84
LCB Aaron Williams
Time on Field: 63.3% snaps played
Stats: 2 tackles (1 solo), 2 PD
Observations: At times it wasn't pretty for Aaron Williams, but he had a nice bounce back game from his abysmal performance in Week Two. His recovery speed is what stood out most on Sunday, twice knocking away the ball on a fly route down the sidelines at the last second. He still has to be more consistent and perhaps his hips aren't as fluid as you would like for your starting cornerback, but he has the natural athleticism to make up for it. Another thing Williams has to work on is not being caught flat-footed when he doesn't get the proper jam with a press technique. He surrendered inside position to his assignment and was beat for an intermediate completion. He's still a work in progress.
Season GPA: 2.03
LCB Terrence McGee
Time on Field: 35% snaps played; 21 total
Stats: 1 tackle (solo), PD
Observations: Perhaps it's a bit telling that Aaron Williams played his lowest amount of snaps this season after his performance against Kansas City. The biggest beneficiary of that is veteran Terrence McGee. Against Cleveland, McGee was very good in zone coverage and improved on not allowing his assignment to get inside position on him every time. McGee is a bit overmatched when going against a smaller, shiftier and speedy receiver because he just can't move around and change directions like he once did. Despite his deficiencies at this stage of his career, he's still a calming presence if Williams is struggling.
Season GPA: 2.67
S Da'Norris Searcy
Time on Field: 16.7% snaps played; 10 total
Stats: 2 tackles (both solo)
Observations: Da'Norris Searcy showed once again he's able to help in run support when on the field, but he was a bit of a liability in pass coverage against Cleveland. He found himself in to deep on one screen play and was easily blocked. His biggest gaffe didn't end up costing the Bills, but he was caught flat-footed while Greg Little burst up the seam after motioning before the snap. The Bills might have caught that, too. The very next play Searcy had been replaced.
Season GPA: 2.92
DCB Leodis McKelvin
Time on Field: 13.3% snaps played; 8 total
Stats: PD, INT
Observations: Serving as the team's dime corner, McKelvin didn't have all that much time on the field. He did whiff on a tackle on a swing pass to Trent Richardson in the third quarter and was also part of the reason Justin Rogers was picked on one occasion. McKelvin did well to bring in the interception late in the game, but he was also beat on the play. It was an overthrow by Brandon Weeden right between the numbers of McKelvin for the fifth-year player's first interception of the season.
Season GPA: 0.83
- Those that did not appear in the game on offense or defense were not graded.
- For obvious reasons, this is a report that highlights my findings and opinions from the individual games.
- The GPA's attached at the bottom are an overall grade of how I felt that player performed, basing it all on the play-by-play film review done throughout the week. B- is considered average on my scale, not C.
- Plus/minus scores and GPAs will be tracked as the season goes along. An individual game's GPA will be weighted with how many snaps that player has on the field in the contest when figuring out a season long average.