Midseason Report: Buffalo Bills
November, 6, 2013
By Mike Rodak | ESPN.com
The Buffalo Bills are 3-6. They're in last place in the AFC East. At this point, their chances of making the playoffs are fading.
Those are just the facts with the Bills as they enter the second half of this season. But there are mitigating factors: They have a first-year coach, a first-year general manager, and they've run through three starting quarterbacks in nine games, two of which are rookies. Under those circumstances, the odds are stacked against you in the NFL.
That's the context for our midseason Bills report card. The Bills haven't gotten the play they need out of most positions and most players. But the talent is there. The potential is there. What hasn't been there, to this point, are the results.
GRADING THE BUFFALO BILLS
|Quarterbacks||This has been the Achilles' heel for the Bills all season, injuries or not. The 28.5 combined QBR of the Bills' three starters ranks 30th in the NFL.|
|Running Backs||Both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson have battled injuries, but their production is still there. Only the Seahawks and Eagles have more rushing yards this season.|
|Wide Receivers||This is a talented group that has also struggled with injuries and bad quarterback play. Bills receivers are 32nd in the NFL, catching 56.4 percent of their combined targets.|
|Tight Ends||Scott Chandler's production is up -- he's on pace for his best season with the Bills -- but he hasn't been a factor in the red zone. He has two touchdowns after posting six in each of his last two seasons.|
|Offensive Line||This is a hit-or-miss group. It has gotten good play out of the tackles, Cordy Glenn and Erik Pears, but the left-guard position has been a problem area. Run blocking has been a strength, while pass protection has been an issue. The Bills have allowed the sixth-most sacks in the NFL.|
|Defensive Line||As coach Doug Marrone said recently, this is the strength of the team. The Bills are tied for third in the NFL in sacks, with Mario Williams (11.0 sacks) leading the charge. The run defense has allowed under 4 yards per carry over the past four games.|
|Linebackers||Rookie Kiko Alonso (four interceptions, two sacks) and veteran Manny Lawson have made an excellent duo. The Bills just need to upgrade their third spot, currently manned by Arthur Moats.|
|Secondary||Injuries hit this unit hard, but even with a full squad in New Orleans, it allowed 309 passing yards to the Saints. The talent is there, but big plays have been the biggest problem.|
|Special Teams||The swap of punter Shawn Powell for Brian Moorman has settled down this unit, while Dan Carpenter has converted 90 percent of his field goals, 10th in the NFL. Buffalo's 20.7 yards per kick return, though, ranks fourth-worst in the NFL.|
|Coaching||Penalties have been a problem, while Marrone is 0-for-4 on challenges. But from an intangibles standpoint, the coaching staff has put together -- and held together, through injuries -- what looks like a cohesive, hard-working locker room.|
2014 AFC EAST STANDINGS
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