Buffalo Bills Progress Report: Where Does the Team Stand in Week 16?
It's been a long season full of joy, pain, sunshine and rain.
The Bills are in for a long offseason after the 2012 season ended in the team's 12th consecutive year out of the playoffs.
Between the quarterback, the head coach, the defensive coordinator, the general manager, their offseason strategy or their coaching philosophies, there are a lot of questions to be answered.
Here's a progress report of the Bills' season, with a focus on this past week, and a look ahead at what's to come for the Bills.
Bills linebacker Arthur Moats and wide receiver Marcus Easley both came out of Sunday's game with their own respective injuries; Moats was placed on injured reserve with an ankle, while Easley suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him out for Week 16 against the Dolphins.
Bills defensive end Mark Anderson finally returned to the lineup against the Seahawks, but didn't even play a snap. Perhaps that had something to do with being down 37-7 in the blink of an eye.
C.J. Spiller: Reached 1,000 yards on the season with a 103-yard performance against the Seahawks. In reaching 1,000 yards on 154 carries, he did it in the second-fewest carries to only Bears running back Beattie Feathers in 1934, who did it on 128 carries.
Funny that we've talked all season long about the Bills' misuse of Spiller, and this achievements speaks to that. 1,000 yards despite being underutilized? As I said earlier this week, the irony is riveting.
Stevie Johnson: Had eight catches for 115 yards and a touchdown. His one-armed falling catch for 25 yards may have been the Bills' highlight of the year.
The catch showed just how clutch Johnson can be, as it came on 3rd-and-20 with the Bills desperately needing a conversion to keep a comeback attempt alive (at that point, Buffalo was down 14). Johnson's 20-yard touchdown reception brought the game within 17 points.
T.J. Graham: Dropped four passes. Four! That included a screen pass, which is bad enough in its own right, but there were some wide open drops as well.
Graham has had a rough transition to the NFL, with 27 receptions for 268 yards and a touchdown on the season. He hasn't played a lot, either, with 70.7 percent of the team's offensive snaps on the season, despite a paper-thin receiving corps.
He was criticized entering the NFL for his lack of versatility within the route tree, and it was wondered whether he'd be able get off press coverage at just 5'11" and 180 pounds. Sunday's performance didn't help answer any of those questions—not for the better, at least.
Pete Carroll: No, he doesn't play for the Bills, but faking a punt while up 30 points is enough to draw the interconference ire of this AFC East writer. I'm not buying his apology, either; he was walking up and down the sidelines congratulating his coaching staff after the call, and was two pompoms short of a cheerleader when his players came to the bench.
Carroll is known for his competitive spirit and for being very gutsy with his playcalls, but this was just low. We saw the Patriots make a furious 28-point comeback on the 49ers, but that's Ryan Fitzpatrick, not Tom Brady. No need for poor sportsmanship there.
- It has seemed at times like the Bills abandon the running game when they are trailing, but that's not entirely true. In fact, the Bills are right on par with the rest of the NFL in that regard. Consider this, though: the Bills run the ball just a hair under 46 percent of the time overall (4.4 percent more than the league average), as opposed to 38.1 percent of the time when behind by one to seven points (0.6 percent less than the league average), and it's clear the Bills are quick to get away from the running game.
- The Bills have allowed 50 or more points twice, 40 or more points four times and 35 or more points six times this season—all three good for the most in the NFL. They have lost four games by at least 20 points (42, 33, 24 and 20), a number only surpassed by the Raiders and the Titans.
- It's not all about the defense, though; the Bills have scored 19 or fewer points in half their games this year. The offense has lacked an explosive element (besides Spiller) all year, and part of that is a function of a quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick who completes just 22.2 percent of his passes 20 yards or deeper down the field.
There's no longer a shred of doubt: the Bills were eliminated from playoff contention in their loss to the Seahawks.
From here on out, the Bills are playing for two things according to Chan Gailey: pride and professionalism. It's clear, though, that they're also playing for their jobs.
How many wins will the Bills finish with in 2012?
Gailey is far from the only problem the Bills have; a change has to be made at quarterback, and possibly at general manager and defensive coordinator, as well. It's up to the Bills to decide where the changes are most necessary headed into 2013.
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 or via team press releases.
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