Breaking down the 2016 Bills season

November 15, 2016
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NFL teams will typically self scout during their bye week.  The Bills never got in touch with me to get my opinion on what's working and what isn't so I'll just share them with you.

Here's what I like so far(in no particular order):

* Tyrod Taylor's last game.  I thought he played great.  He looked like the guy many of us were expecting to see in season number two. Despite the fact he couldn't pull it out at the end, it was Taylor's best overall game out of his 23 starts.  Let's hope this will now be his norm rather than an exception.

* LeSean McCoy.  When he is healthy he makes a HUGE difference in the Bills offense.  I'd vote for McCoy for the Pro Bowl(but I'm biased).  Even though he is clearly the number one guy you'd want to stop if you are defending the Bills, McCoy is still averaging 5.1 yards per carry and has 815 total yards and 7 touchdowns.

* The pass rush.  Its back after a one year hiatus.  The Bills have produced 30 sacks in 9 games after getting just 21 all of last season.  Whether its simulated blitzes or just pass rushers winning one on one battles, they've been very effective at getting to and disrupting the opposing quarterback.

* The play of the linebackers.  Going into the season I thought this was the unit with the most question marks but they've played very well as a group.  Like the rest of the defense, the play has tailed off a bit in the last three games(more on that later) but they still get a good grade.  Jerry Hughes has been..well..Jerry Hughes.  Zach Brown turns out to be a tremendous "dust settler" signing by Doug Whaley and no one could have predicted what Lorenzo Alexander has done.  Preston Brown looks more comfortable in the Rex Ryan scheme in year two.

* Shaq Lawson's small body of work.  Basically going on just pure athleticism, he's shown some good pass rush.

*Marquise Goodwin has spent more time on the field and is showing the ability to do more than just run deep.  Goodwin has 16 catches for 301 yards and 3 touchdowns.

* The last game from Robert Woods.  We need to see more of that, especially if Sammy Watkins remains sidelined. Of course the success level of Woods is tied in to Taylor getting the ball to his best receiving target at this point.

* Tyrod doesn't turn the ball over. He's throw just 3 interceptions in 268 passes this season and has 3 fumbles( 1 lost).

Here are some of the things I don't like:

* The 4-5 record and the Bills dwindling playoff chances.  After this past weekend, I am convinced the drought will be at 17 years. Buffalo is 1-3 in the division and 1-4 against AFC competition.

* The defense the last three games.  The Bills have given up 100 points in the three game losing streak to Miami, New England and Seattle.  They gave up 103 points in the first 6 games of the season.

* Sammy Watkins can't stay on the field.  Sure, he had multiple injuries in his rookie year but he played through them and was in every game so it didn't bug me.  More injuries led to Watkins missing 3 games last season. Now Watkins is looking at playing no more than 9 games, if he comes back for the November 27th contest against Jacksonville.

* The Eric Wood injury and Jordan Mills recent struggles.   For the most part, the play of the offensive line has been solid but the loss of Wood is a big problem going forward.  The way Mills has played the last 3 games, I'd put Seantrel Henderson in, assuming he can hold up physically at this point.

* The play of the Bills secondary.  Cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby are not at the level they were at last season.  It might cost Darby his starting spot this Sunday at Cincinnati.  The Aaron Williams injury, not surprisingly, was a big blow to the secondary.  They just aren't good enough back there and I could see the Bills taking a safety in the 1st or 2nd round of the 2017 draft. The Bills have given up 7 pass plays of 50 or more yards this season and 4 of those 7 have come since Williams was knocked out in the Miami game.

* Reggie Bush's contributions.  Now I wasn't really expecting much anyway because I didn't think Bush had much left in the tank but still...he has 9 runs for -2 yards, 5 catches for 69 yards and his 2 punt returns(which he was brought in for) have netted 13 yards.

* Dan Carpenter is a mixed bag.  He's been fine with PAT's(24-26) but money man Dan has missed 4 field goals with 3 from 40-49 yards and another from 50+.

* The Bills record in the month of November, where Bills seasons go to die.  The loss at Seattle drops their record in the third month of the NFL season to 22-40 since 2000.  They've managed a winning record in November just 3 times during the drought(2000, 2004, 2006).