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2000 Season Mediocre For Bills

The Bills finished the 2000 season with a very average 8-8 record. The final grades will reflect that record. Looking at the glass half fill however, a .500 finish for a team that lost 15 players last offseason and had five significant injuries late in the season, isn't half bad. Here are the position by position final exam grades as well as individual player grades for key players at each position:

Quarterbacks: Rob Johnson, Doug Flutie, Alex Van Pelt

Johnson had some good games early in the season but couldn't recover from a late season slump after recovering from a separated shoulder. He showed his toughness and his ability to take a hit this year but couldn't shake the injury prone tag as he was forced out five games and missed five others. Flutie appeared in 11 of the 13 games he was active for and led the team to a 4-1 record as a starter. Van Pelt wasn't suppose to be on the team this year, but was signed when Flutie injured his groin in training camp. He responded with a winning field goal drive in the season opener. Final Overall Grade C: Had their moments but struggled with Joe Pendry's system.
Johnson C-: His highlight game was the KC win with his magnificent touchdown run. His low point were the losses to Miami and Indy late in the season.
Flutie B: His final game was amazing. He did struggle in other starts but found a way to win.
Van Pelt A-: Played in only the opener but he helped win the game.

Running Backs: Shawn Bryson, Antowain Smith, Sammy Morris, Jonathan Linton

This unit struggled all season as players took turns carrying the load. Bryson ended the season as the leading rusher with 591 yards and he added 271 yards receiving. Smith was the starter at the beginning of the season but lost his job and didn't see the field for five games in the middle portion of the season. Morris was the club's rookie of the year. He was becoming the featured back until missing most of the last quarter of the season with a high ankle sprain. Linton saw very limited action despite starting one game in the ongoing rotation. Final Overall Grade D: Need to establish one featured back next season.
Bryson B: Showed his talents near the end of the season, can he be the feature back?
Smith D-: Season finale saved this from being in F.
Morris B: Showed talent but needs to stay healthy.
Linton F: He got one start and didn't produce.

Receivers: Eric Moulds, Peerless Price, Jeremy McDaniel

Moulds is going to his second pro bowl as he broke the club record for receptions in the season with 94 and came real close to breaking his yardage record with 1326. Price struggled early in the season but really started coming around near the end of the season. He got very motivated for the finale after trash talking and he used that to his advantage. McDaniel turned into a surprisingly solid number three guy. He seemed to get two or three catches a game for decent yardage as he averaged 16.2 yards per catch. Final Overall Grade B-: Moulds carried this unit.
Moulds A-: His swoon during the late season slump brings grade down a bit.
Price C: Needs to be focused and motivated every week.
McDaniel B: Did a solid job for what was asked of him.

Offensive Line: John Fina, Ruben Brown, Jerry Ostroski, Jamie Nails, Marcus Spriggs, Joe Panos, Robert Hicks

This unit struggled all year opening up holes for the running game as the backs all averaged less than four yards per carry. They didn't do any better in pass protection. Bills QBs were sacked a whopping 59 times, that is four off of the club record. Some of sacks can be blamed on Johnson, the running backs or the schemes but a majority of them were breakdowns in the line play. Final Overall Grade F: With many free agents this unit may be overhauled.
Fina D-: He had the worst year of his career.
Brown D-: Has no business being in the pro bowl this year.
Ostroski F: Had as bad a year as you can have at center.
Nails C: Played well enough to hold off Panos for the starting job.
Spriggs C-: Showed some promise but was awful when filling in for Fina.
Panos D: Never regained pre-injury form, could be cap victim.
Hicks F-: Biggest disappointment in disappointing season.

Defensive Line: Ted Washington, Phil Hansen, Marcellus Wiley, Pat Williams, Shawn Price, Erik Flowers

The Bills were able to continue the rotation system from last season somewhat despite losing Bruce Smith. Washington returns to the pro bowl after a year absence. Wiley had an incredible second half of the season when his back was fully recovered from his training camp surgery. Hansen was the leader off the field but was hampered by injuries and the absence of Smith. Williams was a solid performer as they used him and Washington effectively together in "the package". Price did a fine job filling in for the injured Hansen. Flowers was a disappointment in his rookie year mainly because he was hampered all year with a heel injury. Final Overall Grade B: Didn't miss Smith too much.
Washington B+: Had a solid season clogging the middle.
Hansen C+: Kept the line together but his play dropped a bit.
Wiley A-: Outplayed Smith in Washington.
Williams B+: May be alone in the middle next year.
Price A: Solid performer in rotation and when Hansen was injured.
Flowers C-: Struggled for a number one pick but had a big finale to build on.

Linebackers: Sam Cowart, John Holecek, Sam Rogers, Keith Newman, Jay Foreman, Corey Moore

Cowart was the best inside linebacker in the league until he got hurt against Tampa Bay. Holecek had another solid season and came out of Cowart's shadow after the injury. Rogers and Newman both had big years. Their play helped the coaches to re-establish a nickel package to use them as pass rushers. Foreman showed a lot of promise when he filled in very admirably for Cowart the last month of the season. Moore struggled with an injury for a good portion of his rookie season. Final Overall Grade A: Best unit on the team.
Cowart A+: One of the best young players in the game today.
Holecek A: Great compliment to Cowart and a possible star on his own.
Rogers A: Continues to be a solid starter and added five sacks this year.
Newman A: Couldn't have expected more from second year player.
Foreman B+: Replaced injured Cowart and picked up many tackles.
Moore C-: May be too small to play in this league.

Secondary: Antoine Winfield, Ken Irvin, Henry Jones, Keion Carpenter, Donovan Greer, Chris Watson, Travares Tillman, Daryl Porter

The unit had its ups and downs but pretty much held their own despite losing two starters from last year. Injuries really hurt them down the stretch however. Winfield was playing well when his shoulder gave out. Carpenter was a surprise success story as the starting free safety. Jones was his usual solid self. Irvin had way too many penalties for a starting cornerback. The reserves and dime defenders all had inconsistent years. Final Overall Grade C: Could have been worse.
Winfield B+: Had a couple of bad games but was the best player in the secondary before his injury.
Irvin C: Played his best ball down the stretch.
Jones B+: Third on the team in tackles.
Carpenter A: Nobody could've expected him to lead the team in interceptions with 5.
Greer C: His injury really hampered him, as he would have played plenty when Winfield got hurt.
Watson C: Showed he may be a good corner for this team with a full training camp.
Tillman C: Played the last month as the starter and it showed in his development.
Porter C+: Had a big game against Chicago.

Special Teams: Steve Christie, Chris Mohr, Chris Watson

The coverage units were the worst I have ever seen over the course of an NFL season. Christie was awesome the first half of the year with four game winning kicks but he slumped down the stretch. Mohr was awful all year even though he was told to kick high and short. Watson was not worth a 4th round pick as a returner. Final Overall Grade F: Sweeping changes in store from this unit.
Christie B: Six clutch kicks this year.
Mohr F: Probably will be gone next year.
Watson F: May be better as a corner than a returner.
Coverage Units F-: Squib kicks were their best coverage.

Coaching: Wade Phillips, Joe Pendry, Ted Cottrell, Ronnie Jones

The way Phillips handled the QB controversy was atrocious. Some of his on the field decisions were strange too. He did keep a young, injury riddled team at the .500 mark though. Pendry's scheme didn't fit the personnel. Cottrell kept the defense afloat despite rash of injuries. Jones was out of his league as a special teams coach. Final Overall Grade D: Part good, mostly bad.
Phillips C-: Best first three years record in Bills history.
Pendry F: His schemes only confused his offense.
Cottrell A: Deserves a head coaching job, maybe with Buffalo?
Jones F-: As good as gone.

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