An Imperfect Hope for Bills Fans
|Off. Passing Yards||190||186||112|
|Off. Rushing Yards||115||90||110|
|Off. Total Yards||305||276||222|
|Def. Passing Yards||204||368||150|
|Def. Rushing Yards||122||73||156|
|Def. Total Yards||326||441||306|
The first column represents the Bills 2008 averages, the second column gives the Bills stats from Week 1 of 2009, and the third column gives the Bills averages in just the two games against the Patriots last season. The last column is skewed because of bad weather during the second Patriots game, causing greater than normal rushing totals and lower than normal passing totals.
I think this chart gives Bills fans some reasons for optimism, despite Monday night’s crushing loss. First, note the great improvement in passing yards against the Patriots defense. It is still too early to tell if this is due to improvements by the Bills in the offseason or regression from the Patriots pass defense. Nevertheless, new offense coordinator Alex Van Pelt calling plays for the first time could have brought disastrous effects, especially when playing a team that finished last season 11-5 in their stadium. In contrast, you saw an improved passing attack and a rushing game that was only marginally weaker, despite its primary back serving a suspension. As a matter of fact, the Bills rushing game finishes Week 1 ranked 13th in the league, up dramatically from its 25th ranking last season.
Second, the chart shows dramatic improvement in the Bills rush defense. The Bills held the Patriots to 73 rushing yards, which would have been the third lowest total of the 2008 Bills season. (They held the Chargers to 72 in Week 7 and the 49ers to 62 in Week 13.) Given a Bills team that had the 22nd ranked rush defense in the league in 2008, a rank of 9th after Week 1 gives some possibility for hope.
Are the Bills a playoff team? Maybe not, yet like Peter King of Sports Illustrated, I remain optimistic. Despite a Week 1 loss, they played well enough, though, to give Bills fans some admittedly imperfect reason to hope this season.