Sal's Sticks: Bills at Colts

The Bills get blown out in Indianapolis to fall to 2-5 on the season

Sal Capaccio
October 21, 2018 - 7:06 pm

Photo: Brian Spurlock - USA TODAY Sports

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Yet another loss for the Buffalo Bills where the game was basically over by halftime.

Here are The Sticks:
 

BEHIND THE STICKS

  • Run defense

The Bills came into this game as the eighth-best run defense in the league, giving up only 92 yards per-game. However, the Colts seemingly ran on them at will, allowing for long drives and an inability to get the ball back when they needed to most. Indianapolis finished with 220 yards rushing for the game. They ran for 5.9 per-play with Marlon Mack going for a whopping 6.6 yards per-run and 126 overall.
 

  • TE Charles Clays fumble

I think this was the play of the game. Of course, plenty of other things happened which cost the Bills, but they were trailing only 6-0 and moving the ball well when Clay fumbled it away at the Colts’ 22-yard line and Indianapolis recovered. They then scored another touchdown on the ensuing drive. Had Clay held on to the ball there, you can’t help but think how things might have played out a bit differently.
 

  • Turnovers on offense

On top of Clay’s fumble, Bills quarterback Derek Anderson also threw three interceptions and fumbled himself after getting hit from behind. Five turnovers for the Bills’ offense. They’re simply not good enough to overcome that.
 

  • Lack of turnovers on defense/No sacks

No sacks and no turnovers for the Bills’ defense. The offense is so challenged they have to get multiple sacks and turnovers each week, it seems, just to give them a chance, and that’s unrealistic to expect. But not having any is on them. They didn’t get to Luck or the ball.
 

  • First half penalties

After several games in which the Bills did a good job of buttoning this up, penalties have become a problem again. Sunday in the first half alone, they were flagged six times for 54 yards, but had several at key moments. 
 

  • Red zone defense

Holding opponents to field goals instead of touchdowns was something the defense had been priding itself on. On Sunday, the Colts were at or inside the Bills’ 20-yard line five times and scored four touchdowns. 
 

  • Coaching

The Bills simply weren’t ready for some things the Colts did on either side of the ball. As the game rolled on, they didn’t come up with any answers. The coaching on both sides has to be better than to let that happen.

 

AHEAD OF THE STICKS

  • RBs Chris Ivory and Marcus Murphy

Both Bills’ running backs actually ran pretty well after LeSean McCoy left the game after the second play from scrimmage with a head injury. It didn’t matter in the end how well they ran, of course, but Ivory carried it 16 times for 81 yards and Murphy ran it four times for 53 yards. Ivory added 25 yards in receptions for a total of 106 yards from scrimmage.
 

  • P Corey Bojorquez

After a couple rough weeks, Bojorquez gets back on this side of the Sticks for his performance. He punted four times for a net average of 46.3 yards and booted three of those four punts inside the Colts’ 20-yard line.

 

THE BIG PICTURE

Two weeks ago, after beating the Tennessee Titans, I wrote how the Bills had a shot to get to 4-3 and re-write the script on what so many people thought about who they would be in 2018. Well, here we are and those people are much more right than wrong almost halfway through the season. 2-5 with the New England Patriots coming up on a Monday Night next week, and with the Bills playing their worst football since the first six quarters of the season. It’s the worst-case sceanrio that could have happened.

How did we get here?

There were just too many problems on both sides of the ball Sunday, but the defense had been playing great the last several weeks, so even though they were an issue in this particular game, they aren’t the bigger issue overall. They can still get back to playing good football.

The much, much bigger problem is not only the offense, but that I don’t see an end in sight for how that unit can get much better than they are. They came into the game either last or close to it in almost evert major statistical category, and didn't do much to improve on any of that. Derek Anderson. Josh Allen. Nathan Peterman. It doesn’t really seem to matter. The issues go far beyond them. I don’t even think offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is the issue. He’s running an offense with a severe lack of talent, basically trying to win a fight with one arm tied behind his back.

That’s the main issue. The talent, or lack thereof, overall on that side of the ball. It, of course, starts at quarterback, and the questions of how the position was managed in the first place. From not having a steady veteran in camp to turn to if things went sideways, to trading A.J. McCarron (the closest thing they had to that), to Nathan Peterman completely blowing up as a starter, to having to play Allen way earlier than anyone wanted, to him getting injured. I could go on and on.....

It's admirable for Anderson to come into this spot and try to help as much as he can as quickly as possible. It's also clear he's been a career backup for a reason. So with all of that, there's no magical fix here in 2018. The quiarterback situation is what it is now and the offense is who they are. The only help this team will get on that side of the ball will come in the offseason and draft. That's a long way away. There are still nine games left in this season.  

How fans watch those nine games is totally up to each one, individually. Some will cheer hard and want every win they can get. Some will want the team to lose games just to improve their draft status. Those two paths are a great example of how everything appears to be at a crossroads of sorts with this club right now. Players, coaches, personnel and other organizational decisions. A loss like Sunday's against a 1-4 team makes people re-evaluate things.

So that's what I'll be watching for and paying attention to over the next several weeks. The NFL Trade Deadline is a week from Tuesday. Will the Bills look to move parts to acquire future assets? What will they do with Allen for the rest of the year and how much of that will be based on their record when he's ready to return? Can they somehow figure out a way to get those turnovers and stay in the game with the Patriots long enough to gve them a chance to pull a terrific upset? And if they were to do that, how do all of those other answers change because of it?

Monday is a big game. Whatever happens may have a pretty big impact on which paths they take.  



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