Sunday, October 30, 2011
Oh Canada. The Bills played the best game they've ever played in the northern province today, downing the Redskins 23-0. Its the Bills first shutout since Week 15 of 2006.
-After struggling mightily to put any pressure on the QB over the first six weeks, the Bills D exploded with nine sacks against the Redskins. No doubt its a step in the right direction (I don't care who you are playing, nine sacks is nine sacks), but you really couldn't help but notice how poorly Washington's line was playing. We'll see what happens the next two weeks against the Jets and Cowboys before making a judgment on how much they've improved.
That said, the fact that the team was able to make adjustments during the bye week to improve a glaring problem area is very satisfying.
-One thing I can definitely say about the defense changes in during the bye week is that Dareus playing the nose was exactly the right call. I've had some criticism for him of late, but he was an absolute monster today.
-Fitz had by my count three bad throws today, and none of them was the interception. I think Aikman (for once) was correct in his assessment that Fitzy was trusting Stevie to go get the ball and Fletcher just made a play on it. I'd rather have an occasional INT like that then a lot of Trentative checkdowns.
-I think that the only player clearly more valuable to their team than Fred Jackson is Peyton Manning.
-When the Bills were busy flip-flopping Levitre and Rinehart at LG during the preseason, many of us were wondering if it signaled some dissatisfaction with Levitre's play on the part of the coaching staff. Seven games into the season, it seems clear that Gailey meant what he said when told us that Rinehart had earned a chance to play for the starting job. The Levitre/Rinehart left side had an excellent game this week, particularly in the run game. Levitre's performance was all the more impressive given that he was playing out of position at tackle primarily against one of the pass rushers in the league in Brian Orakpo. It warms the cockles of this Bills fan's heart to think of the legitimate depth we have on the o-line.
-NFL.com will start their absurdly early Pro Bowl balloting fairly soon (I think they start it around Week 9), so I've started to gather some thoughts about which Bills I think are deserving of consideration. Here's my top five as of now:
1. RB Fred Jackson- Right now, I think he's the MVP of the league. He won't win it with Rodgers playing the way he is, but he should be in the conversation.
2. LG Andy Levitre- See my above comments for this week. There hasn't been a better player on one of the (surprisingly!) best lines in football.
3. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick- He's still had a few bad balls, but this has been a consistently good year for no. 14. Brady is still first in the conference, but Fitzmagic is in conversation for that number two position.
4. SS George Wilson- A couple of weeks ago, I would've loudly argued against this, but he has been playing extremely well the last few games. Wilson has 66 tackles, 4 INTs, 10 passes defensed and a forced fumble this year.
5. WR Stevie Johnson- Frankly I don't think Stevie has been spectacular, I'm just having a hard time finding someone else in the AFC that's better. Welker and Wallace are shoe-ins, and a great argument could be made for A.J. Green. After that, who do you have? Boldin? Antonio Brown?
LT Demetrius Bell- I'd like to get him back out there for some evaluation. I would've been extremely high on his candidacy a few weeks ago, but given that a rookie 4th rounder and a guard have played his position extremely well in the last few weeks, he's taken a bit of a hit.
DT/DE Marcell Dareus- He's still growing (metaphorically speaking- I hope he's as big as he'll get), but he's already a bear to deal with. I haven't seen him dominate in a consistent way yet, but he may be there by the end of the year.
Next up are the Jets. Your guess is as good as mine as to which version of the Jets will show up. As long as they bring their overrated/under-producing QB with them, we'll have a good chance to beat them.