Bills vs. Cardinals: Jairus Byrd INT, Missed FG May Have Saved Chan Gailey's Job
Bills head coach Chan Gailey has spent the past couple of weeks questioning his team's toughness and psyche, but now there's evidence mounting that there's more to the problem than Sigmund Freud could diagnose while Gailey lies down on a couch in a cozy room.
A miraculous 61-yard field goal by Cardinals kicker Jay Feely may have sent the game to overtime, but just four minutes prior to that kick, the Bills were in position to ice the game. Then, Gailey made perhaps the worst coaching decision of his career, and it may have cost him his job in Buffalo were it not for a missed 38-yard field goal at the end of regulation followed by an interception by safety Jairus Byrd in overtime.
On 2nd-and-9 from Arizona's 36-yard line, with four minutes to go in the game and nursing a three-point lead, Bills part-time quarterback Brad Smith threw his first pass of the season, and it was intercepted by Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson in the end zone.
Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 Sportsradio points out:
...it was just the second time they've dialed that up over the past 22 games. Remember the result of it the first time around? I sure do. An interception. Second time? No difference at all. ...Gailey said afterwards he'd call it again. That's a bit frightening if you ask me, considering how inaccurate a passer Brad Smith has shown to be through training camp practices.
It should be even more frightening considering quarterback isn't even his primary position. What were the Bills trying to accomplish? At this point, throwing it from the option shouldn't be an option.
The Bills get a ton of credit for hanging around against a tough opponent in the Cardinals, but this win is on the player, namely Byrd, making plays at the right times.
It wasn't just the singular decision, though, that was worthy of scrutiny on Sunday. A string of bad coaching and bad decisions by the Buffalo Bills were the reason Arizona even had such an opportunity in the first place.
The Bills ran the ball eight times and passed it 16 times (including a pass interference penalty) in the fourth quarter and overtime. In overtime alone, the Bills threw the ball seven times. One of those passes was completed, and another was the aforementioned PI penalty.
The Bills are far too predictable in the short- and intermediate-passing game. Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't accurate as a deep passer and is hardly accurate enough in the short and intermediate game to allow the Bills to go outside of that predictable box. They can't and shouldn't be putting the ball in his hands to close out games.
That honor should go to the running backs, namely C.J. Spiller, who inexplicably had just six carries in the second half despite averaging 10.2 yards per carry after intermission.
The coaching staff as a whole has come under scrutiny of late. Yahoo! Sports Shutdown Corner editor Doug Farrar pointed out there are schematic issues on the defensive side of the ball.
Main problem with Bills' defense is: they aren't changing it up -- 4 down linemen & basic coverage over and over. Unreal burden on players— SC_DougFarrar (@SC_DougFarrar) October 8, 2012
The Bills may be fielding a lot of high-priced underachieving talent, but they're certainly not putting those players in position to make plays very often.
The Bills get an opportunity to build momentum against the Tennessee Titans, who are riding high off a big win over the Steelers and have the added benefit of a few extra days off following their Thursday night game.
At 3-3, the Bills share the same record as the other three AFC East teams, so wins are important anyway. For this coaching staff, though, the difference between a win or a loss this coming week could be huge in setting the tone for the rest of the season.
In reality, the Bills were two interceptions and a missed field goal away from that tone being set in ominous fashion on Sunday.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.
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