Buffalo Bills Vs. Green Bay Packers: Can Bills Contain Clay Matthews?
The Buffalo Bills travel to Lambeau Field this Sunday to take on the Green Bay Packers. The Bills are coming off a disappointing 15-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins, while the Packers are rolling, following a 27-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Bills face a very tough Packers team that is loaded with superstar talent on both sides of the ball, and look to bounce back after an extremely embarrassing offensive outing against Miami.
Trent Edwards Needs to Make Better Decisions
After a stellar preseason outing in which Buffalo Bills quarterback Trent Edwards completed 28 of 41 passes for 370 yards, tossing two touchdowns with only one interception, he looked like he had completely regressed back to his old self last week against the Dolphins.
Edwards completely lacked any pocket presence, and was constantly checking down to the flats before letting plays develop downfield. He passed for just 139 yards and a touchdown, and surprisingly didn't throw an interception, despite some questionable decision making.
The Packers will be without veteran cornerback Al Harris, who is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform list, and their Defensive Player of the Year, Charles Woodson is questionable after suffering a foot injury.
Edwards will be under more pressure by far more talented pass rushers than Koa Misi and Cameron Wake this week, but if he can stand confident in the pocket, he may be able to exploit Green Bay's depleted secondary.
Buffalo Needs Better Play From The Tackles
Last week the Bills offensive line was simply atrocious, especially the play from right tackle Cornell Green. Green was responsible for two sacks, and was consistently either blowing his assignments, or getting blown away.
The Packers star pass rusher Clay Matthews, is often used on both strong and weak sides, and after watching Green's game tape, I'm sure Matthews will be excited to manhandle him all day Sunday. Jamon Meredith had limited reps against the Fins at left tackle, but if I were Trent Edwards, I'd be begging Coach Gailey to give Meredith a shot at right tackle this weekend.
The exterior line simply couldn't create holes for the running attack, and forced C.J. Spiller to run between the tackles instead of playing his own game.
The interior line was decent for the most part, but the Bills really need better play from both Demetrius Bell and Cornell Green, or Clay Matthews might be delivering a concussion for the second consecutive week.
The Bills Need To Find Consistency in The Run Game
Bills rookie running back C.J. Spiller had a disappointing rookie debut, carrying seven times for six yards....with his longest run being six yards. He also caught four passes for just eight yards. The Dolphins clearly had based their defensive gameplan around containing the explosive runner, who carried 16 times for 122 yards and three touchdowns in the preseason.
After he reviewed his tape against Miami, Spiller told BuffaloBills.com “I’ve just got to slow down and be more patient. That’s the main thing. I let a couple runs get away from me. I was trying to play too fast. I’ve got to be able to slow stuff down and not miss those lanes that I kind of missed out there. But that’s just getting adjusted and I’ve got a good understanding of what it will be like on Sundays.”
Fellow running backs Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch combined for seven carries and 32 yards, rounding out an overall disgusting performance.
The Bills really need to move the ball on the ground in order to keep the clock moving in order to keep the potent Green Bay offense on the sidelines.
Defensive Backs Need To Continue Dominance
The Bills secondary held Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne to just 182 yards, and didn't allow a passing touchdown, and contained the elite wide receiver Brandon Marshall to just 53 yards.
Leodis McKelvin played exceptionally well, making three tackles and defending two passes. He replaced Terrence McGee in certain situations throughout the second half and looked solid against Marshall.
The Bills will need exceptional play from all of their defensive backs, considering that the Packers are often in four or five receiver sets, consisting of playmakers Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and Jermichael Finley.
The Bills are especially deep with talented players in the secondary, and you can expect to see a lot of nickel and dime formations, with McGee, McKelvin, and Drayton Florence all expected to see significant playing time.
The secondary didn't make an interception last week, despite ballhawk safety Jairus Byrd getting 32 reps.
Donte Whitner really needs to step up on Sunday, as he will be crucial in coverage as well as stopping the run.
Linebackers Need To Step Up Without Posluszny
The Bills are without star linebacker Paul Posluszny for 2-3 weeks, and Keith Ellison will be taking his place. Ellison looked out of place in the 3-4 defensive front last week, though he managed seven tackles while filling in for Poz.
Outside linebacker Chris Ellis shined, making five tackles, recording a sack, and was constantly pressuring the quarterback. Aaron Maybin saw limited playing time and failed to make an impact except for a defensive holding penalty he committed in the third quarter.
It will be interesting to see if the Bills will vary from their 3-4 defense to a 4-3 due to the loss of Posluszny, but either way they will really need to make their tackles and play all out against the Packers.
Will Chan Gailey Gameplan Better This Week?
Chan Gailey emphasized a run-first offense, yet with an offense featuring three running backs that could be starters on almost any team in the NFL, the three manged just 17 combined carries. The Bills were out of the shotgun for 41 of their offensive plays, and wasn't doing a good job of confusing the Dolphins defense.
Earlier this week he stated that he was "trying to do too much" and that he wanted "to get back to the basics on offense."
We saw a little bit of the Wildcat offense, with Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch in the backfield, as Jackson would take the snap, fake to Lynch, and run a dive. The limited plays looked successful and hopefully the Bills will utilize a bit more of that this weekend.
Bills Run Defense Better Than Advertised
The Bills were one of the worst teams in the league last year defending the run, and many were worried about how the transition to the 3-4 defensive front would affect that. Although allowing 132 yards on the ground, the Dolphins only averaged 3.7 yards per carry, and aside from a 17 yard Ronnie Brown carry, the defense looked solid.
Marcus Stroud showed great athleticism and is seeming to make the transition from tackle to end somewhat smoothly, as he recorded seven tackles. Dwan Edwards also played great, constantly pushing the pocket and showing why the Bills acquired him this offseason.
Kyle Williams looked solid as a nose tackle, and was taking on double teams with superior strength.
The Packers are without Ryan Grant, as he suffered a season ending ankle injury last week, but Brandon Jackson will replace him, and he ran for 63 yards on 18 carries against the Eagles.
The Bills Need To Move The Chains
The Bills managed just 166 yards last week, the fewest of any team in the NFL, and only moved the chains nine times for a first down.
They really need to pound the rock, keep the clock moving, and convert third downs if they wish to keep the score close. They were only three of 14 on third down conversions, and had possession of the ball for just over 23 minutes.
The Bills need to do whatever they can to keep the clock running and the chains moving, to keep the explosive Green Bay Packers offense off the field. If they don't, I'm not confident that the Bills defense will be able to contain the Packers offense as they did to the Dolphins.