The Buffalo Bills entered week four’s contest against a shorthanded New England Patriots team looking to re-gain control of its season. Building on the momentum of last Sunday’s win, Rex Ryan’s club waltzed right into Foxborough and did just.
With help from a defensive shutout, Tyrod Taylor’s best performance of the season and the trio of Robert Woods, LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay making timely plays, Buffalo’s offense was able to control the clock and the field position battle for most of the afternoon. Anthony Lynn’s unit started off sharp and was noticeably in sync as it jumped out to an early lead and never looked back en route to 16-0 victory.
Here are the individual offensive grades for the Bills-Patriots week four contest:
Robert Woods: Sunday’s win over the Patriots was a coming out party for Woods as he consistently abused defenders with sharp passing routes, dependable hands and excellent timing. He and Taylor showed off great rapport as the receiver worked a couple delayed slant routes for first downs early on. Woods also made an impressive high-point grab on a third and long play where he was able to go up and get the ball while keeping his balance and lunging forward for a first down.
The receiver continued his physical run-blocking which helped seal the edge on a few decent pickups and sprung Shady on his touchdown reception with a well-timed block on Hightower. Woods is the clear cut #1 WR in Buffalo now and certainly played like it on Sunday totaling seven receptions for 89 yards on 10 targets. Grade: A
Tyrod Taylor: Buffalo’s Quarterback has probably benefitted the most from the switch to Anthony Lynn as Offensive Coordinator as he put together his most impressive performance of the young season against New England. It wasn’t perfect but using both his legs and arm to gash the Patriots defense, Taylor was mostly accurate throwing the ball and was able to make defenders miss while keeping eyes down the field for big plays.
On the first drive Taylor rolled right and hit Charles Clay in the chest on a play-action pass before just barely missing Marquise Goodwin on a deep ball in the endzone. After that incompletion, T-Mobile locked it in as he worked the ball to McCoy on short passes and consistently went to Robert Woods and Clay to move the chains. On his lone touchdown of the afternoon Tyrod placed the ball in a perfect spot for Shady to take into the endzone with a full head of steam. The signal caller also made a highlight-reel juke on Patriots linebacker Dontae Hightower as he faked the option pitch and cut up field for a first-down gain.
After throwing a 17-yard dart to Nick O’Leary along the sidelines Taylor did make a few mistakes though. He overthrew Goodwin, airmailed a wide open Woods and scrambled for a loss of two yards instead of just throwing the ball away. He then missed Flash again and an open Clay on third-down to start the second half. Those mistakes were made up for later as Taylor showed good patience to work the middle of the field and lets plays develop. He hit Woods with a 22-yard dart after a rollout play to the right an then also made easy throws to Felton and O’Leary which didn’t go for big yards but were important to keep the ball moving forward.
At one point, Tyrod was 13-15 passing as his timing was excellent with Buffalo’s pass catchers. He did miss a couple more throws in the second half but was able to convert enough third downs to keep the offense on the field, extending multiple plays with his mobility. He completed passes to Clay twice when he probably should have been sacked.When Taylor displays that kind of poise/accuracy in and outside of the pocket and is able to avoid as many sacks as he did on Sunday (five I believe), opposing defenses will be in trouble. He finished 27-39 passing for 246 yards and one touchdown and added another five carries for 28 yards. Week 4’s version of Tyrod Taylor will earn that $27 million dollar extension all day long. Grade: A-
LeSean McCoy: For the second straight week Shady’s elite vision and elusiveness were on display as he danced, juked and sprinted his way around Bill Belichik’s defense for another stellar performance. After getting stuffed on his first run McCoy got busy in the passing game as he was able to find open spots in the zone to move the chains. In the first quarter the running back caught a perfectly placed throw from Taylor on a swing pass and took it into the endzone for a 7-yard score.
As the first half rolled on Shady got more involved in the running game and was making defenders miss left and right including a nine-yard pickup where he broke four tackles. He did however miss a blocking assignment on a passing play that nearly got Taylor killed and needs to improve his protection. Aside from that and a couple negative gains McCoy continued to be productive on the ground in the second half, avoiding would-be tacklers with his ability to stop on a dime. On one play he literally ran to one side then completely reversed field for a clutch 8-yard gain. LeSean McCoy finished with over 108 yards from scrimmage as he rushed 19 times for 70 yards and caught all six of his targets for 38 yards and a score. Grade: A-
John Miller: The second-year lineman had another rock solid performance in week 4 as the Bills were able to utilize his strength and athleticism along the frontlines. Miller had a great pull block in the first quarter on Mike G’s direct snap as he stood his ground early in the running game. He again showed good awareness to let go of his block once the running back bounced it to the outside to avoid a holding penalty.
Miller also did an excellent job in pass protection as New England lineman were mostly neutralized when battling him one-on-one. Jabal Sheard did get around the right guard to pressure Taylor on what ended being an incomplete pass. But beyond that, it’s clear the Bills aren’t afraid to ask Miller to pull as he made a few good blocks on such plays. It was an encouraging game in which John was one of Buffalo’s top lineman. Grade: A-
Charles Clay: After being nearly invisible over the first three games of the season the tight end had a clutch performance in week 4 at New England. Routinely working himself open in the secondary, Clay started off with a bobbling grab over the middle on play action pass where he absorbed a big hit for the first down. He later made multiple third down receptions where he stuck with a scrambling Taylor, came back to the ball and was able to move the chains.
Similar to Woods, Clay showed good rapport and timing with his Quarterback for most of the day. He also did his part in the running game often sealing a defender or finding someone to kickout for an open lane. Clay came away with five receptions on seven targets for 47 yards and with Sammy Watkins’ season likely over we should expect to see more performances like this. Grade: B+
Cordy Glenn: It was a fairly quiet return from a sprained ankle for the starting left tackle which was exactly what his team needed. Glenn was able to drive his man back early in the first half which allowed Bills running backs to find some daylight. He also had solid pass protection for most of the game despite letting up a QB pressure in the second half. The biggest blemish on Cordy’s day was a bad holding penalty in the 4th quarter. Otherwise, Bills coaches’ will like what they see on the tape. Grade: B+
Nick O’Leary: The second-year tight end has been given an opportunity to show what he can do and took full advantage of it on Sunday with a solid performance. From the beginning O’Leary was a force in the running game as he cut down a Patriots linebacker which sprung McCoy for a big gain on the outside. The Florida State product showed off his steady hands in the second quarter with a 17-yard grab along the sidelines. On the play he was able to work himself open behind the zone and pulled in the high pass for an athletic first down. 0’Leary finished with two receptions for 20 yards but his dependability and blocking for the run cannot be overstated. Grade: B
Jerome Felton: After being cut by the Bills right before the season opener, Felton has returned with a vengeance. On Sunday, the fullback was instrumental in the running game as he routinely lead the way for McCoy or Gillislee on big gains. He was blocking anything that came acrossed his face and also ran for a clutch third down conversion. Felton grabbed a five yard pass as well and is definitely going to be an important part of this offensive moving forward. Grade: B
Richie Incognito: If it wasn’t for three penalties that included an early taunting call and two holding infractions, Incognito would have graded out much better. Regardless, the veteran still was able to have a positive impact on the game as he opened running lanes early including a pancake block on linebacker Jamie Collins. On another play Richie literally threw Chris Long out of the way which led to a productive gain by McCoy. He did get beat twice up the middle on blitzes but Tyrod was able to escape the trouble even though one play resulted in an incompletion. Week to week Incognito continues to be a major force inside and really sets a physical tone for the rest of the offensive line. Grade: B-
Mike Gillislee: Whenever Mike G touches the ball things seem to happen. Serving as a change of pace back to McCoy, Gillislee displayed good patience and timing as he waited for holes to develop before violently bursting through them. On a couple occasions #35 had to use his wheels to get outside the numbers but did so for productive gains. He totaled 30 yards on six carries and caught one pass for 12 yards and continues to be a spark when coming off the bench for Shady. Grade: B-
Eric Wood: The curly-haired bandit started off the game strong with good pass protection and blocking for the run. Wood was able to push defenders downhill and keep them away from his QB. Later on he did allow a pressure on Taylor which forced him to scramble for a loss and also whiffed on a block in the middle on an outside run. Wood was also called on a big holding penalty in the redzone but bounced back with more than adequate pass protection in the second half. Another solid performance from Buffalo’s starting Center. Grade: B-
Jordan Mills: The right tackle got off to a quick start with a nice pull block in the running game and adequate protection on passing plays. Like most of Buffalo’s lineman, he was beat once on a blitz which led to pressure on Tyrod. Besides that, Mills did his job for most of the game which included an impressive kickout block. It will be interesting to see what Rex Ryan does when RT Seantrel Henderson returns from his suspension. Grade: B-
Walter Powell: Started off the game slow but came on in the second half with a couple big receptions. Powell caught a slant pass for 8-yards and then worked his way back across the middle of the field for an 11-yard 3rd down conversion. He couldn’t shake free on a design screen pass but the receiver continues to provide a small spark at opportune times and finished with four catches for 22 yards on five targets. Grade: B-
Marquise Goodwin: On the first drive the speedy receiver beat a Patriots CB down the sidelines but was just overthrown by Taylor in the endzone. He made a nice grab on a deep out which converted a third down play but that was his only reception of the game on five targets. Flash was a feisty blocker in the running game however as showed the ability to get dirty when need be. You would like to see him haul in more than one ball a game but it wasn’t a terrible performance from #88. Grade: C+