Week 4: Bills Picked Up Their Game In 2nd Half
Grades are a tale of two halves.
by Steve Saslow
Here are our position by position grades:
Trent Edwards knows how to play in the second half which is good since he continues to struggle in the first half. He threw a perfect bomb on his first pass to Evans that may have been his last good throw of the first half. He then overthrew Hardy later on the opening FG drive when he was wide open. He struggled the rest of the first half as he overthrew a wide open Evans late in the first half and it was intercepted. The second half was a different story as Edwards had more time to throw and found his receivers. The 39 yard touchdown pass to Evans was a thing of beauty. He finished with a QB rating over 80 and the Bills have never lost when he does that. Grade C+: F in the first half and A in the second.
Marshawn Lynch ran with authority especially when he had little room to run in the first half. He was also used in the passing game with four catches. He had a total of 81 hard earned all purpose yards. His third and five run for 11 yards in the 4th quarter setup the bomb to Evans for the score that put the game away. Fred Jackson was a perfect complement to Lynch and he gave the team a spark on the first possession of the third quarter that he finished with a nifty 22 yard touchdown run. He finished with 6.6 yards per carry. Darian Barnes was inactive so Jason Whittle logged some time in the backfield and struggled in that role. He was replaced by Derek Schouman in the second half. Grade B+: This unit sparked the comeback.
Lee Evans only caught three passes but they were big ones. He caught a 49 yard bomb on the first offensive play to setup a field goal. He caught a 39 yard touchdown pass and then caught the two point conversion. Josh Reed had two big catches in the first half that gave the Bills first downs. He finished with four catches that were all clutch. James Hardy was covered very well and couldn't bring in any passes thrown his way. After having a few balls thrown to him early, they went away from him in the second half. Robert Royal caught one pass and he bobbled that one. Derek Schouman split time at fullback and tight end. He caught one pass for 21 yards. Grade C+: Made big plays when they had to but were quiet for long stretches in this game.
No unit was the tale of two halves as much as this unit. There were no holes in the running game in the first half and Edwards was sacked four times before the intermission. For the second week in a row, this unit did a 180 in the 2nd half as Edwards had time to throw and some holes opened up on the ground but they finished with just a 3.6 yard per rush. Jason Peters got called for holding that wiped out a long Lynch run on the opening series. He then got beat on a stunt move for a sack and was called for a false start all in the first half. Melvin Fowler got called for a devastating tripping penalty on a big run before halftime by Lynch. Langston Walker was beaten for a big sack knocking the Bills out of field goal range in the 2nd quarter. Grade C-: Run Blocking is the weakest part of this team.
Aaron Schobel had five tackles and one quarterback hit. Chris Kelsay had four tackles and a pressure. Marcus Stroud struggled a bit as their were holes in the middle of the line for Steven Jackson to run through. Kyle Williams was quieter than he has been. Ryan Denney had three tackles. Spencer Johnson had a sack. John McCargo was very quiet. Grade C: Gave up huge holes in the running game but tightened up late.
Paul Posluszny stopped two first quarter possessions with third down blitzes that put pressure on Trent Green. He also had a nice tackle in the backfield on Jackson to end the third quarter. He finished with a team high eight tackles. Kawika Mitchell and Keith Ellison combined for five tackles. Grade C: Besides Poz, this unit was too quiet.
Terrence McGee knocked down the opening bomb when he had perfect coverage, could have had a pick there though. He then left with a sprained knee and was replaced by a combination of Ashton Youboty and Leodis McKelvin. McKelvin had a wicked hit that forced a fumble that he recovered for his first turnover of his career. Jabari Greer had the big play of the game, an interception that resulted in his first career touchdown. Youboty had another big open field tackle in the first half that negated a possible big gainer. Donte Whitner had his first career sack and it was a big one for a 12 yard loss to take the Rams out of field goal range as they would miss a 51 yard field goal attempt and a chance to seize the momentum. Ko Simpson had five tackles. Grade A-: Did a real nice job in pass coverage.
Brian Moorman loved being in a dome for a change, he put five of his six punts inside the 20 and had a net over 40 yards and a gross of nearly 45 yards. Rian Lindell was a perfect three for three hitting field goals from 45, 35, and 45 yards. Fred Jackson got the call to return punts and let one bounce behind him before recovering and returning it 11 yards. He struggled catching the 2nd punt but returned it 35 yards down the sidelines to setup a field goal attempt. He finished with a 17.3 yard average on three returns. Leodis McKelvin fumbled his first kickoff return after a good runback luckily Duke Preston recovered. He averaged a whopping 32.3 yards on three kickoff returns. He also returned two punts for 26 yards. They allowed a 24 yard average on kickoff returns and one punt return for eight yards. Grade A: Nice job from this unit as usual.
I don't know what goes on in the locker room at halftime but this staff does an amazing job making the adjustments and they deserve a tremendous amount of credit for the three straight fourth quarter comeback wins. Perry Fewell's unit was caught off guard on the 37 yard end around TD run by the rookie Avery. They were beaten on the quick snap and the momentum shifted quickly to the Rams. They had no answer early for the blitzing packages of the Rams defense or the running of Steven Jackson. In the second half they shutdown Jackson and started picking up the blitzes which helped open things up offensively. Grade B+: Now they need to figure out how to start fast.
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