The Buffalo Bills hold a 5-3 record as the team is enjoying the bye week in contention for a playoff berth in the AFC. Without any games to preview or recap, I decided to take a look at some advanced stats from this season, in order to see who’s been impressive, overrated, underrated, or just some statistics that I found interesting.
All statistics are from Pro Football Focus, Advanced Football Analytics, TeamRankings.com, or ESPN.com unless otherwise noted.
Kyle Orton vs. EJ Manuel
Much was made about Doug Marrone’s decision to bench EJ Manuel in favor of Kyle Orton, but it’s obvious that the move was the correct one.
On passes 10+ yards downfield, EJ Manuel completed 13-of-40 passes (32.5%) for 671 yards. Kyle Orton is 31-of-52 (59.6%) for 1,030 yards.
Most supporters of EJ Manuel will point to his completion percentage (58%) as a positive aspect of his game. However, Manuel’s completion percentage is skewed, as only 40 of his 122 pass attempts traveled further than 10 yards down the field. Manuel needs to work on his ability to work through his reads, rather than checking down to the flats or a back when his first read isn’t open.
Kyle Orton has shown the ability to stand in the pocket and wait for plays to develop, which is why he’s attempted 52 passes of 10 or more yards downfield, connecting on 31 of them.
Both EJ Manuel and Kyle Orton were pressured on 36.1% of their dropbacks, but Manuel was sacked on just 11.3% of those, while Orton has been sacked 29.8%.
While Orton will stand in the face of pressure in order to let plays developed, he lacks the mobility to get out of the pocket and avoid sacks, an aspect that made EJ Manuel a highly touted prospect coming out of Florida State.
The Bills’ offensive line has really hindered the growth and performance of an offense that had very high expectations entering the season. The team hasn’t been able to find serviceable guards, and is starting a talented, but raw right tackle in Seantrel Henderson.
Total Pressures Allowed, Rank
RG Erik Pears- 19 pressures, 6th most among guards.
LG Cyril Richardson- 15 pressures, 13th most among guards.
RT Seantrel Henderson- 25 pressures, 9th most among tackles.
C Eric Wood- 10 pressures, 7th most among centers.
Cordy Glenn hasn’t been fantastic, but he’s been the most effective offensive lineman on the team this season. Now, it’s fair to assume that the totals from each player are related to playing next to new faces and being inexperienced, but it’s fair to say that the offense line is the worst unit and biggest question mark on the team.
The Bills’ defensive line deserves credit for the play of the entire defense, as the front four has dictated the game, generating pressure in the passing game and holding ground and maintaining their gaps against the run.
Kyle Williams’ 26 pressures are tied with Ndamukong Suh for the most among defensive tackles. However, Williams has made the most of those, with 5 sacks and 5 QB hits, while Suh has just 3 sacks and 3 hurries.
Marcell Dareus generated just 18 QB pressures, but 7 have been sacks, the most among defensive tackles.
Dareus has 14 tackles against the run, 9th most at his position.
Jerry Hughes’ 31 QB pressures are 3rd most among defensive ends, while his 7 sacks are 2nd at the position.
When Kiko Alonso went down with a torn ACL prior to training camp, much was made about the potential success of the Bills’ linebacker corps that would feature a first-time starter in Nigel Bradham, a newly acquired middle linebacker in Brandon Spikes and a rookie in Preston Brown. The group has performed above and beyond expectations through the first eight games of the year.
Preston Brown is the No. 1 coverage linebacker in terms of snaps in coverage per reception at 15.9. He’s played 271 snaps in coverage while allowing just 17 receptions.
Nigel Bradham is the most efficient pass rusher among outside linebackers, generating seven QB pressures on his 20 pass rush attempts.
Brandon Spikes’ 7 missed tackles are 6th most among inside linebackers, and he’s whiffed once every 5.5 attempts. Spikes is No. 5 at his position in pass coverage, surrendering a reception just once every 14.9 snaps in coverage.
The Bills’ secondary has been inconsistent this season in Jim Schwartz’ zone-based defense. They’ve done a good job limiting explosive plays in the passing game, but they’ve also given up too many easy gains.
Stephon Gilmore is the 8th most targeted cornerback in the NFL in terms of targets per snap in coverage. Gilmore has played 251 snaps in pass coverage, while being targeted 32 times or once every 7.8 snaps.
Corey Graham is the 11th best cover cornerback in the NFL in terms of coverage snaps per reception allowed (reception/14 coverage snaps). Graham also has the 6th best “passer-rating against” figure, as opposing quarterbacks are posting a 51.9 rating when targeting him.
Da’Norris Searcy is the second-most efficient tackler among safeties, missing once every 29 attempts. He’s the No. 3 coverage safety in terms of receptions per snap, allowing just four receptions in 205 snaps.
The Bills devoted quite a bit of resources this offseason into bolstering special teams, adding Anthony Dixon, Corey Graham, among others to be part of the “core” special teamers. It’s paid off thus far, as the Bills have kept opponents from getting good field position in the kicking game.
Jordan Gay has produced 26 touchdbacks on kickoffs, 11th most in the NFL.
Dan Carpenter has connected on 17-of-19 field goal attempts this season, the third most in the league.
Colton Schmidt’s 18 punts inside the 20 are most among punters, while his 15 punts that resulted in a fair catch are 4th.
Ron Brooks is the No. 1 special teamer on punt coverage, racking up six tackles, while Boobie Dixon is 7th.