The Buffalo Bills finished second in the AFC East with a 9-7 record. The Bills were 2-2 heading into a Week 5 meeting with the 3-1 Detroit Lions. E.J. Manuel who started the first four games for the Bills in favor of Kyle Orton who led the Bills to a 7-5 record the rest of the way. The Bills got off to a quick start despite the distraction of the team being sold by long time owner Rich Wilson’s widow and the speculation whether the team was even going to remain Buffalo. The Bills largest margin of victory was 38-3 drubbing of the Jets in week 12, a game that was relocated to Detroit due to weather conditions. Their worst loss of the season came in week 6 at home against New England. The Bills compiled a 4-4 away record and a 5-3 home record. The Bills as a team completed 62.7 percent of its passes. Kyle Orton compiled a 64.2 completion percentage, for 3,018 yards 18 touchdowns 10 interceptions and a TID of 1.8. E.J. Manuel on the other hand had a 58% completion percentage for, 5 touchdowns, 3 interceptions and a TID of 1.5. Kyle Orton retired and will not be back with the team. Manuel is clearly not the quarterback of the future as he was benched a quarter of the way through the season. The Bills did not have a 1,000 yard rusher or receiver this year. True Fred Jackson missed some time with an injury and C.J. Spiller went down with a season ending injury midway through the season. The problem is they weren’t even close Fred Jackson led the team with 525 yards and 3.7 average per carry. This offense was 26th overall 26th in rushing and 18th in passing. Rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins had a nice rookie season with 65 reception on 128 targets for an RR of 50.7% for 982 yards and 310 yards after the catch. Watkins averaged 61.4 yards a game 15.1 a catch and 4.7 after the catch with a long of 84 and 6 touchdowns. Watkins led all Bills receivers in every category except reception which he ted for top with Robert Woods and is tied for second overall in that category one behind Fred Jackson.
On the other side of the ball of the Bills had the 4th ranked defense overall, the number 3 passing defense and the number 11 rushing defense. The Bills passing defense held opposing quarterbacks to a TID of -0.5. Opposing rushers did not have a run longer than 47 yards and receivers did not have a catch longer than 56 yards. The Bills had no defensive touchdowns and gave up 2 defensive touchdowns. The Bills defense had 54 sacks compared to the 39 given up by their offensive line.
In summary I think the Buffalo Bills had a much better season than anyone expected them to coming off of a 6-10 season last year. Going forward the Bills need a quarterback. If the Bills can get a real quarterback Sammy Watkins can develop in to the game changing receiver we all know he can be. The Bills will have a new coach next season with Doug Marrone opting out of his contract, if nothing else that in and out itself is the death knell of the E.J. Manuel era in Buffalo, if one were not inclined to believe when Marrone benched him in Week 5. Rumors that Bills are interested in Mark Sanchez should concern Bills fans going forward, because Sanchez has proved he is nothing more than a serviceable backup and the first two years of his career were an aberration. Although Bills fans should be happy that at the end of the day their team was playing meaningful games almost to the end.
Final Grade: B+