The Buffalo Bills have to be one of the more confusing teams as we hit the midseason point in the 2012 NFL season. From time to time, the Bills look like a playoff team. At other times, they closer resemble a team who is worthy of a top three draft pick. They are that frustrating to predict.
At this point, all we have learned that we can predict with the Bills is that they will continue to be unpredictable.
It is also safe to say that the Bills continue to make the wrong decisions as far as personnel. Signing Ryan Fitzpatrick to a long term contract extension was a mistake. General manager Buddy Nix more or less admitted as much. The Harvard grad continues to regress as a starting NFL quarterback. It has happened ever since he signed his $62 million contract. He does not appear to be the franchise quarterback the Bills were expecting, leading them to consider drafting a quarterback out of college in April.
The Bills do have a franchise running back, but they seem afraid to give him the ball. At least, that is the case when Fred Jackson is healthy.
I admit that I am a big fan of Jackson’s. I feel as if this guy has been under the radar for years. But now, he is actually overrated for the first time in his career. When he misses time with an injury, C.J. Spiller is the man. He rushes for big plays and long touchdowns, which is something that Jackson is just not capable of in 2012. maybe it is from his injuries, maybe it is his age, who knows. He just doesn’t seem like the same player he was last year.
Yet the Bills continue to split the load in the backfield instead of doing the smart thing and giving Spiller at least 20 total touches per game. The offense should run through him if the Bills have any intention of turning around their disappointing 3-5 record. People may not have had extremely high expectations for Buffalo in 2012, but not many would have predicted that they would be behind the Miami Dolphins and tied for last with the New York Jets in the AFC East.
Then again, all we can predict in regards to the Bills is that they will be unpredictable.
Here is a look at some of the statistics from the Bills’ offense through the first eight games in 2012.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: 158 completions of 256 attempts for 1,674 yards with 15 TD and 9 INT
C.J. Spiller: 78 carries for 562 yards with 4 TD
Fred Jackson: 59 carries for 218 yards with 1 TD
Stevie Johnson: 35 catches for 416 yards with 4 TD
Donald Jones: 26 catches for 306 yards with 3 TD
Scott Chandler: 22 catches for 285 yards with 4 TD
C.J. Spiller: 24 catches for 236 yards with 1 TD
Fred Jackson: 22 catches for 148 yards with 1 TD
As you can see, Spiller almost doubles Jackson in yards per rush, although he does not have many more carries, especially when you consider Jackson missed more time with an injury. The 15 TD are very nice for Fitzpatrick, but the 9 INT are too many. They have also come at inopportune times for Buffalo.
Defensively, things are actually worse. The Mario Williams signing has yet to pay dividends for Buffalo, as he has been a huge bust at the midseason point. With just 23 total tackles and 4.5 sacks, Williams will need to turn things around for this rushing defense to improve from the 31st ranked run defense in the NFL in terms of yards allowed per game. The pass defense has not been much better, ranking just 24th in the league in passing yards allowed per game.
With a schedule that does not get any easier for Buffalo in the second half of the 2012 season, it is more than conceivable to predict that the Bills will once again finish under. 500. While they may be unpredictable in general, I feel that is a safe assumption. That is why, through the first eight games of the 2012 NFL season, the Bills deserve no better than a C- on their report card.