Grading the Bills
RUNNING GAME: F
The final numbers mask how awful this was. The team gained 97 yards on 28 carries, but 46 of those yards came from quarterback Nathan Peterman, including a 24-yard scramble on the final play of the first half – when he elected to run instead of throwing a Hail Mary to the end zone. LeSean McCoy’s long run on 10 carries was just 4 yards. Backup Chris Ivory piled up some garbage-time yardage, but then suffered a shoulder injury near the goal line in the fourth quarter. Third running back Marcus Murphy got just one carry. Rushing attempts by receivers Zay Jones and Terrelle Pryor went nowhere. Simply put, the running game is lost right now.
PASSING GAME: D-
Nathan Peterman threw three interceptions … and wasn’t the worst part of the Bills’ offense. The first was off the hands of Terrelle Pryor and should have been caught, the second was behind Jones, who still had his hands on it, and the third, well, that one was on Peterman. When Logan Thomas is your leading receiver, you know it’s not going well for the pass offense. Nine players caught a pass, but few of them were of much consequence. The longest gain, 26 yards to Jason Croom, went 65 yards the other way for a touchdown after the tight end fumbled. Peterman was sacked four times as the pass protection started to wilt in the second half.
RUN DEFENSE: B+
Shaq Lawson had a nice tackle for no gain on the Bears’ second possession, forcing a punt at midfield. Defensive ends Eddie Yarbrough and Jerry Hughes each had two tackles for loss, as did linebacker Matt Milano, including a 4-yard stop behind the line of scrimmage on Tarik Cohen. Milano was shot out of a cannon on that play. Julian Stanford stepped in for Tremaine Edmunds and led the defense with eight tackles. Rookie defensive tackle Harrison Phillips also had a tackle for loss. Safety Jordan Poyer got run over on an 18-yard touchdown run by Jordan Howard.
PASS DEFENSE: B-
Like with the run defense, this isn’t the reason the Bills lost. Tre’Davious White got his first interception of 2018. Lawson had a pass defensed at the line of scrimmage. Julian Stanford got the only sack, which came on Chicago’s first offensive possession. After that, pressure was lacking. Phillip Gaines was whistled for a 43-yard pass interference in the fourth quarter that set up a Chicago touchdown.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
The punt-coverage unit gave up a 36-yard return that set up a Chicago touchdown two plays later, making the score 28-0. Punter Colton Schmidt was terrible in his first game back with the team. Stephen Hauschka hit a 41-yard field goal in the third quarter to at least break up the shutout. Logan Thomas took a 15-yard penalty for a late hit out of bounds. That gave the Bears the ball at the Bills’ 37-yard line, and they converted for a touchdown.
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll simply has to come up with a better way to use LeSean McCoy. It’s true that evaluating Daboll is hard to do given the lack of talent he’s working with, but nine games have shown his rushing attack is a huge step back from the way the Bills have run the ball in recent seasons. Danny Crossman’s special-teams units have consistently been below average. Penalties were again an issue, with 10 for 163 yards. Sean McDermott has a lot of work to do to prevent this season from totally getting away – if it hasn’t already.
Grading the Bears
RUNNING GAME: C-
The saving grace was a pair of rushing touchdowns by Jordan Howard, including a beauty of an 18-yarder in which he ran through the Buffalo defense. Other than that, not much was happening here. Howard gained just 47 yards on 14 carries, while backup Tarik Cohen was held to 5 yards on six attempts. The Bears finished with 25 carries for 64 yards as a team. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who came into the game second in rushing yards at his position, was held to just 6 yards on one attempt. Receiver Anthony Miller gained 9 yards on an end around.
PASSING GAME: C-
Trubisky really wasn’t that impressive. The No. 2 overall pick in 2017 sent 12 of 20 for 135 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Playing without Allen Robinson II, rookie Anthony Miller led the way with five catches for 49 yards. A second-round pick in April, it’s easy to wonder if the receiver-needy Bills would have considered Miller if they hadn’t traded away both of their second-round picks to move up for Josh Allen. Taylor Gabriel had back-to-back grabs for 30 yards, but finished with just one more catch the rest of the game. Tight end Trey Burton got a late 2-yard touchdown, one of only two catches. Cohen had just one catch for 8 yards.
RUN DEFENSE: A
Swarming. Suffocating. Dominant. Choose any or all three, and it’s a good description. Roquan Smith showed why he was a first-round draft pick, with 13 tackles and a forced fumble (even though that came in pass coverage). Fellow linebacker Danny Trevathan had a dozen tackles, two of which went for losses. The Bears had six tackles for loss outside their four sacks.
PASS DEFENSE: A
Four forced turnovers, two of which went back for touchdowns makes for a pretty good day against the pass. Cornerback Kyle Fuller had one interception and set up another that Leonard Floyd returned for a pick-six when he hit Bills receiver Zay Jones within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage. Safety Adrian Amos had the other interception. He was in the right place at the right time to catch a deflection.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
Punter Pat O’Donnell had a poor first effort that went for just 23 net yards, but his day got better from there. He pinned the Bills inside their 20-yard line on four of his five punts. Kicker Cody Parkey, who has been shaky this season, was clean on two field goals (23 and 45 yards) as well as five extra points. His two kickoffs went for touchbacks. Cohen’s 36-yard punt return was a tremendous individual effort.
How about Matt Nagy throwing the ball in the fourth quarter, up 34-9? I respected it. The Bears took their foot off the gas a bit on defense, but never stopped coming on offense. The one issue for the Bears was they took a ton of penalties – 14 of them for 129 yards. Holding Khalil Mack out to get him healthy looks like a good call after the fact.
Story topics: Chris Ivory/ Colton Schmidt/ Jordan Poyer/ LeSean McCoy/ Logan Thomas/ Matt Milano/ Nathan Peterman/ Phillip Gaines/ Shaq Lawson/ Stephen Hauschka/ Terrelle Pryor/ Tre'davious White/ Zay Jones