BBD Assistant Editor: Ryan Talbot
Three hundred thirty-four yards. How on Earth does a professional football team give up 334 yards to one player? It’s difficult, but the Bills pulled off the feat on Sunday. Was it a squirmy player like Julian Edelman? No. What about a jack of all trades like Shane Vereen? Not him either.
LeGarrette Blount, a 250-pound bruising running back, was the man who accounted for the yards. Blount had 24 carries for 189 yards and two touchdowns. He also accounted for 145 yards on two kick returns Sunday.
It’s inexcusable regardless of the elements. For as much praise as defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has received, he also needs to be held accountable for the rushing yards his defense gave up this season. Overall, Pettine did more good than bad, but the run defense needs to be looked at and upgraded in the offseason.
As for the kickoff returns, that falls on special teams coordinator Danny Crossman. When the Bills hired Crossman, I remember Lions fans jumping for joy. After one season, I see why. Marrone’s hiring of Crossman was by far his worst hire. Marrone and Crossman might be friends, but there is no reason for Crossman to return in 2014.
The game itself wasn’t great for the Bills, but they did themselves no favors. The Patriots fumbled the ball four times on Sunday and each time New England recovered the ball.
Offensively, mistakes did the Bills in.
Thad Lewis did a nice job against the Patriots, especially considering the elements. He completed 16-of-29 passes for 247 yards and one touchdown. His biggest gaffes were an early fumble and a bad quarterback sneak. The Bills did score a field goal after the fumble, so Lewis only had one really costly play.
Spiller and Jackson accounted for 165 yards and a touchdown on the ground for the Bills.
Mistakes by Buffalo’s wide receivers and tight ends were most costly for the Bills offense on Sunday. Scott Chandler had a big drop in the first quarter that would have converted a first down and put the Bills in field goal range. T.J. Graham, the team’s leading receiver on Sunday, had a pass bounce off of his mid-section on a 4th and 2 play.
In the offseason, Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett need to work on Buffalo’s red zone offense. The team was held to far too many field goals this season.
The 2013 Bills season is in the books with another 6-10 record. The team had a strong draft and made some good moves in free agency and through its trade with the Indianapolis Colts for outside linebacker Jerry Hughes. If the team can repeat that process in 2014, the Bills have a chance to emerge as a playoff contender.