As we do weekly we reached out to the Local FanSided site that covers our upcoming opponent. This week we connected with Tip Of The Tower to preview the upcoming battle with the Buffalo Bills. Browns Vs. Bills should be an interesting game this Thursday night. Lets see what they have to tell/teach us about the Bills prior to the game.
1) EJ Manuel has been seen nationally as a solid rookie who has pulled out 2 huge wins. How is he seen by Buffalo fans?
Much like Browns fans, those of us in Bills country have been presented with our “quarterback of the future” over and over again, so while fans are certainly excited about Manuel and his potential to fill that long standing void under center, I think we’re tending on the side of caution.
While it’s true that Manuel has started off his career 2-2, with one win coming at the hands of the defending Super Bowl champs and the other because of a touchdown drive orchestrated with 1:40 left with no time outs, Manuel has also struggled mightily like young QBs tend to. In last week’s win against the Ravens he completed less than 50% of his passes for the second straight week.
So to sum it up for you, we’re pretty smitten with young Mr. Manuel, but are all too aware of the pitfalls of going all in on a shiny new quarterback too soon.
2) CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson have suffered through injuries over the past few years, what’s their outlook for Thursdaynight?
Jackson and Spiller are both pretty banged up, but it looks like both of them should be in the line-up on Thursday night. Whether they are effective or not, it remains to be seen. Even when healthy the Bills have struggled somewhat to establish their run game, which can be partially blamed on teams keying in on the run with a rookie quarterback under center but still falls on the shoulders of Jackson and Spiller.
Last week against Baltimore Jackson and Spiller were effective, but failed to break off any of the big plays a team needs from its run game to really set the tone. With both of them less than 100%, the Browns may be able to take advantage.
3) Mario Williams had a huge 4.5 sack game against the Panthers and only 1 sack in the other 3 games. Is this due to consistent effort on his behalf or some other factor?
Super Mario was an absolute beast against Carolina, setting both a Buffalo Bills and personal record with 4.5 sacks in the Bills Week 2 contest. While he hasn’t shown up in the box score as often as many fans would like in the other games, Williams has still been effective.
According to Sporting Charts, Williams is tied for 3rd in the league with 6 quarterback hurries, which confirms what I have been seeing with my eyes that Williams along with the rest of the Bills pass rush has still been getting in the backfield and disrupting, albeit without actually registering the sack.
While Mario certainly isn’t going to produce 4.5 sacks per game, he isn’t going to have just 1 sack over 3 games very often either. If he continue to play like he has, soon enough his quarterback hurries will turn into sacks
4) The Bills are 27th against the run so far this year, with Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams at DT this is surprising. Any explanation?
The Bills ineffectiveness in stopping the run thus far has been quite puzzling. With Dareus and Kyle Williams, it was (rightfully) expected that the Bills run defense would be a strong suit. I’ve been looking into reasons why the Bills have been so bad in what was a strong suit and think I have a good answer.
The Bills opponents have attempted more rushing plays than any other team’s opponents so far in 2013. While you may attribute this to the opposition hoping to exploit the poor defense, I believe it is a product of the Bills ranking near the bottom of the NFL in Time of Possession.
The Bills have been running a hurry up offense so far this season, and with a rookie QB and a run game that hasn’t gotten on track, that has led to far too many short drives that take virtually no time off the clock. This lack of possession has allowed the opposition to run the Bills defense into the ground, tiring them as the game wears on. Case in point is the Bills rushing yards per carry against by quarter:
- First quarter: 3.28 yards per carry (6th in NFL)
- Second quarter: 3.91 yards per carry (19th in NFL)
- Third quarter: 5.81 yards per carry (26th in NFL)
- Fourth quarter: 4.25 yards per carry (24th in NFL)
(h/t to Mike Rodak)
So the short answer? The Bills run defense has been bad because of the Bills offense!
5) What is the Bills fans expectation for this match-up between these two 2-2 teams?
While Bills fans are genuinely happy that the team is 2-2 through 4 weeks of the season, we are well aware that the team can’t keep winning if E.J. Manuel continues to complete less than 50% of his passes.
That being said, if there’s on team in the NFL that has a recent history has moribund as the Bills it’s the Browns (sorry Cleveland!), so heading into Thursday night’s match up many Bills fans are expecting the team to build off Sunday’s win against the Ravens and move to 3-2 on the season.
Whenever it comes to two franchises like Buffalo and Cleveland facing off, anything and everything could go wrong, luckily for someone, one of the teams still has to win (note: If this game ends in a tie I don’t know what I’m going to do).