Grading the Bills
RUNNING GAME: B
LeSean McCoy put up some ridiculous numbers – 114 yards rushing on just 13 carries. His 37-yard run followed by a 27-yard touchdown in the first quarter showcased his abilities. If there was a silver lining, I guess that would be it. Tyrod Taylor scrambled for 38 yards to help the final numbers look good. Travaris Cadet showed a pulse as the backup running back, which is more than can be said for Mike Tolbert lately. There were still too many negative plays on early downs, but that was far down the list of problems for the Bills on Sunday.
PASSING GAME: F-
What’s the worst grade possible? Multiply that by two and give it to the Bills. Can Nathan Peterman possibly come back from this? His five-interception performance in the first half – even if not all of them are squarely on his shoulders – is the worst performance by a quarterback in team history. Putting Tyrod Taylor in the game for the second half saved Peterman more embarrassment, but made little difference with the game so far out of reach. The list of issues for this team is getting longer by the day. Quarterback is obviously No. 1 on that list, but the offensive line is a serious problem, too. Jordan Mills is going to have nightmares of Joey Bosa. Oh, and so is the situation at wide receiver. Other than that …
RUN DEFENSE: F
After Week 11, when the team gave up 298 rushing yards, there was nowhere to go but up. In that regard, holding the Chargers to about half that totals means I guess things got better. Cornerbacks Tre’Davious White and Leonard Johnson made some nice plays in run support in the first half. Ramon Humber looked good a couple of times coming downhill to fill gaps, but I’m out of nice things to say. This is how far the bar has been lowered for a team that was No. 3 in the NFL against the rush through seven games – “holding” a team to 146 rushing yards is viewed as an improvement.
PASS DEFENSE: F
E.J. Gaines’ return to the lineup didn’t help much. The Bills consistently had gaping holes in the secondary. Safety Micah Hyde suffered a knee injury, which could be problematic moving forward. Johnson got beat clean by Keenan Allen for a 21-yard touchdown pass that put the Chargers up, 17-7, in the second quarter. Humber covered Allen on at least one occasion. That worked out exactly as you would expect it to.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
The Chargers kept kicking the ball to Brandon Tate at the goal line, and Tate kept stubbornly bringing the ball out. He averaged just 20.6 yards on seven returns, and gained just 3 yards on one punt return. Punter Colton Schmidt had another shank. The only saving grace was kicker Stephen Hauschka’s 50-yard field goal.
Where do we even start? Benching Tyrod Taylor for Nathan Peterman on Sunday looks like one of the worst decisions in team history. It’s going to take Sean McDermott a long time to come back from this, if he ever can. “The Process” is not easily trusted when a coach botches such an important decision is such spectacularly bad fashion. Kicking a field goal down 33 points in the second half was just weak, too.
Grading the Chargers
RUNNING GAME: A
Melvin Gordon had a workmanlike 80 yards on 20 carries, getting around right end for a 10-yard touchdown in the second quarter to really put the game away. Backup Austin Ekeler continues to come on, as he gained 40 yards on six carries. Excluding backup quarterback Kellen Clemens’ three kneeldowns to end the game, the Chargers used six different ball carriers. That’s what happens when you’re up 37 points in the second half.
PASSING GAME: A
Questionable coming into the game because of a concussion, quarterback Philip Rivers not only played, he was spectacular. Rivers completed 20 of 32 passes for 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His accuracy was pinpoint all afternoon. Receiver Keenan Allen simply dominated the Bills, with 12 catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Once again, the Chargers spread the ball around, targeting 10 different pass catchers. Tyrell Williams’ hurdle of Hyde was spectacular.
RUN DEFENSE: D
The Chargers are the worst run defense in the NFL, and it showed. The Bills went for 173 yards on 22 carries, even if some of that came in garbage time. Things started off good when Corey Liuget dropped McCoy for a 1-yard loss on the first play of the game. If there was a bright spot for the run defense, it was that there were four tackles for loss. Still, it’s hard to see the Chargers getting back into the playoff race when they can’t stop the run.
PASS DEFENSE: A
The Chargers did their best Oprah impression – you get an interception! You get an interception! You get an interception! The final total was two for Casey Hayward, one for Trevor Williams, one for Korey Toomer and one for Tre Boston. The pass-rush duo of Bosa and Melvin Ingram is perhaps the best in the NFL. They were no match for the Bills' struggling offensive line.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-
Kicker Nick Novak did an excellent job placing his kickoffs at the Bills’ goal line. That invited Tate to bring the ball out, and the Chargers’ kick-coverage team smothered him. Nick Dzubnar led the way with three tackles on special teams. Novak did miss a 46-yard field-goal try in the first half, bringing the overall grade down a notch. Punter Drew Kaser put both of his attempts inside the Bills’ 20-yard line.
How good do you think this feels for Anthony Lynn? The guy passed over by the Bills absolutely spanks them in his first meeting. If preparing for a quarterback with limited tape was a challenge, it didn’t show. The Chargers played a near-flawless game, save their issues on run defense. Even when the game was over in the second half, the Chargers made the Bills work for every point, and yard, they got.