Bills vs. Bucs: Takeaways from Buffalo's 27-6 Loss to Tampa Bay
The Buffalo Bills continue to see their season slip away with their 27-6 loss in Tampa Bay. They have now lost seven of their last nine games and look destined for a top-10 pick in the NFL draft.
From the opening whistle, the team looked out of sync and not ready to play. EJ Manuel had probably his worst game as a pro with four interceptions, the running game could only muster 67 yards on the ground and the team collectively racked up 11 penalties.
These were the five biggest takeaways from Buffalo's 27-6 loss to Tampa Bay.
Offensive Line Struggles Once Again
The Bills' offensive line has been overpowered and outmatched seemingly the entire season. The game against Tampa Bay was no different as it gave up seven sacks and the running game was only able to manage three yards per carry.
This positional unit is something the front office will need to address this offseason. It doesn't matter how good the quarterback, running back or wide receivers are if the offensive line can't open lanes for the running game or give the quarterback time to pass the ball.
The struggles of the offensive line start at left guard with the fact that the Bills were unable to find a suitable replacement for Andy Levitre. The team has tried to use players like Colin Brown and Doug Legursky to step in and the results have not been good.
This team has to get better play from their offensive line if it hopes to improve on that side of the ball next year.
Bills Beat Themselves with Turnovers and Penalties
The Bills beat themselves, like they have done in previous games, with turnovers and penalties.
The Bills finished the day with 11 penalties and 114 penalty yards and five turnovers, four of which were interceptions by EJ Manuel. The turnovers were not entirely Manuel's fault as two of the interceptions bounced off Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods and right to Bucs defenders.
The penalties are the more concerning issue as those are generally because of a lack of discipline. The worst penalty came at the start of the fourth quarter when C.J. Spiller broke a short pass off for 83 yards and a touchdown but was called back for holding by Woods. These are penalties that are game changers because they took points off the board and killed any momentum generated by the play.
This is a young team that is trying to learn how to win in the NFL. Turnovers and penalties play major roles in determining the outcome of games and Buffalo has to improve in these areas if it hopes to be successful.
Bills' Defense Can't Stop the Big Plays
It didn't take long for Tampa Bay to capitalize on Buffalo's struggles with giving up big plays. On the second play of the game, Bucs running back Bobby Rainey broke off an 80-yard run for a touchdown.
Mike Glennon made the second big play for Tampa Bay connecting on a 38-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson. Buffalo found itself down 14-3 before the first quarter was in the books.
The defense, though, played pretty well aside from those two plays. It was able to hold the Bucs to 246 yards on offense and forced two turnovers. If those two big plays are taken away the numbers are pretty impressive with Tampa Bay only gaining 128 yards and averaging 2.06 yards per play.
With Rainey's run early in the first quarter, the Bills defense has now given up a run of 25 yards or more to its opponents in four straight games. This defense has the talent to be a top defense in the league but it has to improve in this area if it hopes to be considered one.
Bills Need to Re-Sign Jairus Byrd This Offseason
One of the few bright spots from the game against the Bucs was Jairus Byrd's continued strong play. With his second quarter interception of Mike Glennon, the free safety now has four interceptions over the past four games.
Entering this season, Byrd was in the middle of a contentious contract negotiation with Buffalo. The Bills had designated him with the franchise tag, however, Byrd was looking for a long-term contract that would make him the highest-paid safety in the game.
Due to the contract issue, Byrd missed the majority of training camp and struggled with injuries early this year. He has finally gotten back to playing at Pro Bowl level over the past month and is showing the organization that his desire to be paid like a top safety is because he is one.
If this team hopes to end the playoff drought next season, it will need to find a way to re-sign Jairus Byrd. There are too many needs already for this team and it doesn't need to add finding a replacement for Byrd to that list.
Where Is Marquise Goodwin?
In Week 11 against the New York Jets, Marquise Goodwin looked like he was finally becoming a key part of this offense. He finished that game with six receptions, 81 yards and one touchdown.
Since that game though, Goodwin has not touched the ball once. He has not even been targeted once over the past two games.
The speed of Goodwin makes him too much of an offensive weapon to be forgotten. There is no reason the Bills can't call an end around, or a wide receiver screen to see what he might be able to do.
Over the final three games, the coaching staff has to get creative and find a way to get Goodwin more involved in this offense.