We sat down for a Q&A with BuffaWins.com to help get you set for the Colts pivotal week 12 match-up against the Buffalo Bills. We discuss the Bills strugging QB, their dynamic RBs, their electric return game, and their star defensive end. We'll also take a look at some of the ways the Bill may elect to attack the Colts on both sides of the ball.
Special thanks to Joey from Buffalo Wins for his question and answers, and I'll supply a link to my answers on his site if you want to see what I'm saying about the Colts behind your backs!
1) The Bills had high hopes for Ryan Fitzpatrick entering this season, but he currently ranks near the middle of the league in most statistical categories. What is the source of his struggles, and is Fitzpatrick still considered the long-term answer at quarterback?
Fitz is pretty much on his last leg as the Bills' starting QB. Buddy Nix (GM) has said in recent weeks that he plans on drafting a QB this April. Obviously, the Bills made a mistake when they decided to extend Fitzpatrick for 59 million dollars as his numbers have gone south since signing the deal. I don't blame the Bills for re-signing him. During a 21 game span, Fitzpatrick had 40 touchdowns, 4,984 yards passing, and 22 interceptions. Why wouldn't you re-sign him for those numbers? However, since he signed that deal, Fitz has been either really bad or average. In his last 9 games of last year, Fitz threw for just 10 touchdowns and an eye-popping 16 interceptions. The word was out on how to defend Fitz. The Bills like to run a lot of 6-yard slant patterns and if you take away those underneath routes, you end up forcing the Bills to go over the top, which they can't do because Fitz doesn't have the arm strength/accuracy to make those throws. For this year, Fitz has been inconsistent, to put it nicely. He has 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but he's ranked 25th in yards per attempt. His best games this year statistically speaking have been against the Pats (6 TDs), Titans (3TDs) and the Browns (3tds), who don't exactly have stellar defenses. However, when Fitz has gone against a defense currently ranked in the top 10 (49ers, Texans, Cards) the offense has scored just ONE touchdown. I think Fitz can start in the NFL, but it has to be on a loaded team. He needs to be a game manager. Put him on the 49ers and I don't think they miss that much of a beat. However, if you are asking him to win games for you, it becomes a tall ass task.
2) The Bills have two of the best running backs in the league on their roster in Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller, both are good enough to start for most of the teams in the league. How do you see that situation playing out in the off-season, do the Bills keep both try to keep both and go with a 50/50 split on carries? Or do they try to move one of these players in the off-season, and if so, who?
That's a really tough question. Buffalo fans love a good controversy. They live to argue and this has been a hotly contested debate.A number of fans want CJ to be the primary back because it always seems like he's going to take it to the house whenever he touches the ball. As for Fred, he's struggled a bit this season due to him coming back too early from a leg injury in week one, which should have kept him out for 4-6 weeks. Instead, he came back after missing just two games and struggled for a good month. I'd probably give the ball more to CJ than Fred (65-35). Both guys have different styles of running, as CJ is more of a one cut and take it to the house kind of back, while Jackson can break tackles and run inside better. But the problem is that the Chan Gailey loves to pass! The Bills have attempted the 17th most amount of passes in the league, but are tied for 14th in rushing attempts. It may not seem like a big difference, but when you consider they average over 5 yards a carry to go along with Fitz's shortcomings, why wouldn't you become a running team? That's the problem. On a side note, the Bills love to get their running backs involved in the passing game, so just because they lack carries, doesn't mean the ball can't get into their hands. I would just rather it be running plays than screens. Will they trade one of them next year? I don't think so because you can't get much in return when it comes to trading running backs.
3) Buffalo made a big free agent splash this past off-season when they signed former Texans DE Mario Williams to a huge contract. Through 10 games, Williams has notched 5.5 sacks: has he been a disappointment, or has he played well, but just not produced sacks?
I think he's been a disappointment, but Mario was playing with a bad wrist for the better part of the year. He got a procedure to fix his ailing injury before the bye week. Since then, he has two sacks and 14 tackles in his last three games. Is it earth shattering for what they are paying him? Not exactly. But he has been coming on as of late. I think the biggest problem for the Bills' defense is that everyone on the DL has been inconsistent. We all thought the defensive line was going to kill people with Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Mario. However, they have had their struggles when it comes to getting pressure with just their front four. Factor in that Dave Wannstedt is about 10 years too late when it comes to knowing how to game plan for today's NFL and you have a recipe for disaster. The Bills are 1-4 in games in which they score 28 or more points. Sorry, but you should be able to win games if you score 28 or more points. I will say, they have been a little better as late, but Sunday will be a big test against Luck.
4) The strength of this 2012 Colts team is definitely its offense, how do you think the Bills defense will attack them, and do you think they'll be able to have success stopping Andrew Luck and company?
No. I don't. As I said, the Bills' defense has been better as of late because they are taking a few more chances in blitzing and have gotten pressure on the QB. I see the Bills matching up rookie Stephon Gilmore on Reggie Wayne and I'm praying they decide to double him. The Bills' defense was terrible before the bye week (3 weeks ago) because they didn't blitz all that much and relied on their front four to get after the QB. The secondary, which is really young and unproven (excluding Jairus Byrd. He's a ball hawk), were playing off the WRs and the QBs were making them pay. Here's the biggest reason why I'm worried: When the Bills' defense has played against Brandon Weeden, Kevin Kolb. Matt Cassell, and Ryan Tannehill, they have given up five offensive touchdowns. When they have played Tom Brady, Alex Smith and Matt Schaub, they have given up 19 offensive touchdowns. Factor in that they have also given up 83 points to teams led by Matt Hasselbeck and Mark Sanchez. At this point, I just think Luck is better than a lot of the QBs I've mentioned.
5) Same question for the Bills offense: how do you think they'll choose to attack a Colts defense that has been inconsistent at best this year and put up no resistance this past week against Brady and the Patriots?
Your secondary seems to be a big issue and I can see the Bills spreading out the field -which they love to do- and picking on your corners. They are big on doing slants and curls, so get ready for a lot of quick throws. Running wise, as I've said, you can never tell with Gailey. They ran the ball 29 times last week against Miami. Yet, against the Patriots and Texans, the Bills dropped back to pass 90 times while Fred/CJ carried the ball only 37 times. If the Colts play 8 guys in the box, the Bills will try and pass on you because they can't help themselves in throwing the football when a team dares them.
6) The Bills currently rank near the top of the league in both Punt and Kick returns, and the Colts are once again struggling with their coverage of both. Who should Colts fans keep their eyes on for Special Teams returns? Bonus question: I was shocked to see longtime Bills P Brian Moorman cut earlier this season, was this a performance decision, a money decision, or both. and who has taken over the job and is he as good as Moorman was?
LEODIS MCKELVIN. I put his names in caps because he's been dynamite this year in punt returns. Leodis is 16th in punt return attempts, yet, he's number one in the league in punt return yardage. Enough said. As for Moorman, there were a lot of rumors circling around it being a disconnect between he and special teams coach Bruce DeHaven. The consensus or rumor mongers seem to think that Bruce wanted Moorman to be more of a directional/hang time kicker while he had always been a guy to boom the crap out of his kicks. To me, Moorman struggled because DeHaven was trying to take him out of his element of what made him a pro bowl caliber player and Moorman refused to learn. Normally, the coach wins out in a battle with the punter.
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