Sunday, December 22, 2013

4th and Inches - Falcons and Bills Lost Seasons

Buffalo is now 5-9 and have been out of contention since, well, when the season started.  I won't say it is a lost year but it has been a tough one.  I didn't even expect a .500 record but I had hopes of a few more positives.  They did beat Carolina and Baltimore within the first four games of the season to go 2-2 but it went down hill from there.  The offense is 24th in points scored while the defense is 18th in points allowed.  Nothing that will scare anyone else in the league. 

Rookie EJ Manuel has started/played 10 games.  He has completed 58% of his passes but with only 11 touchdowns and 9 interceptions I'm not sure how good a season it has been.  I am glad to see more touchdowns than interceptions.  He is still young and very raw.  Hopefully he can develop into the franchise quarterback Buffalo hopes him to be.  Fred Jackson (725) and CJ Spiller (745) have split time at running back with both having over 700 yards going into the day. They are both averaging over 4 yards per carry (4.2 and 4.6).  So the running game is doing well.  I prefer having the one go to guy but I'm alright with this especially as they are both playing well.  Just wish we were seeing more scoring results from their productivity but that isn't their fault.  WR Steve Johnson and TE Scott Chandler are once again the big targets for the quarterback. Their stats aren't anything to look at but with Manuel's down year it is understandable.  Buffalo is still lacking that big #2 guy opposite Smith.  Rookie Robert Woods seems like he might be able to be that guy but there are no guarantees.

The defense is playing better with Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes and Kyle Williams leading a rush that has 49 sacks.  Buffalo is also +1 in the giveaway/takeaway category.  The defensive backs are still not great but the defense has played ok.  The season can't be judged yet.  With a new coach and quarterback we won't really know if this was a building year or not until two years down the road.  I have hope.  I still think the defense needs some upgrades, as does the offensive line and receiving corps. 

Atlanta, at 4-10, are in a worse situation after being one play from the Super Bowl last year.  Injuries have been a huge part of it.  Julio Jones (WR) and Sam Baker (OL) were big losses but other nagging injuries to Stephen Jackson (RB) and Roddy White (WR) among others just compounded the issues with the offense.  The article by Andy Benoit detailing some of the specific problems can be found here.  It is a month old but is still some great insight. While this season is lost the Falcons have next year to look forward to sans Tony Gonzalez.  That is no consolation right now when most everyone thought Atlanta would be right there in the hunt again this year.  My concerns are the fact that the defense is still very bad despite changes in the defensive backfield.  They don't get a good pass rush which puts too much pressure on everyone else on the defense.  Despite the lack of weapons Matt Ryan has also been part of the problem.  Seems like he could have made more plays at least in the games I was able to see.  Again may not have been his fault but thought he could have played better despite the issues. 

I knew Vincent Jackson was good but has been a stud in Tampa Bay considering the lack of quarterback quality there.  He will likely set a career high in receptions this year.  I can only imagine how Phillip Rivers wished he was still in San Diego...It is time for Jason Garrett to go in Dallas.  Last week's killer loss to Green Bay due to poor play calling has to fall to him.  And it isn't like Dallas continues to underperform consistently. If he hadn't been Jerry Jones' personal hire he would have been gone some time ago....Patriots are a team hit hard with injuries but kudos to Billicek and Brady for keeping them in first place and in the hunt for the #1 seed.  It is a testament to both those guys....Detroit is another place where a change in coach is probably warranted.  Too much talent there on both sides of the ball for them not to be sitting on top of their division especially considering the injuries to the starting quarterbacks of Green Bay and Chicago....I like the way Philly is setup.  This team may not be in a championship game this year but Nick Foles looks like he could be the real deal.  Considering the talent already around him that is a very good thing for Philadelphia....Did not see Houston falling apart this year.  I've always been too high on that team but how the heck do they look so bad this year?

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