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[closed]Why I'm Stubborn to Blame "Playcalling"


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#1 The Big Cat

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:00 AM

One and a half drives into Sunday's game, and no less than five fans in the gameday thread were calling for Hackett's head on a stake.

That's fine. The gameday thread has never been known to be a sanctuary for balanced discourse.

I bit back, a little, then gave up when:
  • It was clearly a futile effort.

  • It was clearly a rough day for the offensive staff, coaches included.
That said, and while fully acknowledging Hackett's shortcomings in the loss, I'm still not ready to blame the playcalling.

Here's why:

Expectations
Rookie quarterback, rookie OC.

The moment the Bills announced Hackett would be taking over the play calling duties, a certain sect of Bills fans (and not necessarily a marginally-sized one, mind you) saw their opportunity to lambaste the front office. Couldn't blame them, really. After Ralph handing over the keys (something The Realists have been clamoring for for years), after jumping on a HC hire that was widely revered league-wide and in the media, and after stealing arguably the best coordinator available in Pettine, there wasn't a lot to bitch about.

Then came Hackett.

Suddenly, a sliver of daylight for the doomers to pounce. Their jumbo-sized microscopes calibrated, they couldn't wait for this guy to give them an excuse to complain.

Suddenly, the first quarter of Sunday's game.

It. Was. On.

The way some "fans" were going bonkers, you would have thought Hackett was calling double-reverse flea flicker screen punts on first down.

They got what they wanted: our lousy, cheap, stuck-in-the-past FO screwed the pooch...AGAIN. What a bunch of !@#$ing losers the Bills are.

Meanwhile: reality.

He is a rookie OC. He is a young rookie OC. And through three games, the Jets have showed their defense is as every bit as good as it's been the last half-decade since Rexy took over.

Oh yeah.

We also have a rookie QB.

And not Andrew--kissed by Christ himself--Luck. We have a rookie QB whose size and intangibles are universally admired, but whose skills and abilities are questionable enough that not since Rex Grossman in 2002 Chad Pennington (18) in 2000 has the first quarterback in a draft come off the board after so many picks.

E.J. Manuel is going to struggle this year. He already has, and he will continue to do so.

Week-to-week analyses have indicated that he's on a short playbook leash as it is, and as we've already acknowledged, he doesn't have an innovator like Chan (who by the way has nearly as many years coaching as Hackett does living) finding ways to hide his shortcomings.

Yet a certain pod of Bills fans expects the Hackett/Manuel duo--after 12 whole quarters of NFL football--to be perfect. And when they're not, they're failures, they're an excuse to pout and say "same Ole Bills."

Well, they're not the same Ole Bills. Fans shouldn't expect them to be, just like they shouldn't expect Brady/Bellicheat mastery, right out of the gate.

Execution
You can argue till you're blue in the fact about whether or not Nix was a good GM, whether or not Whaley is ready to have the keys, or whether or not Buffalo is any position to build a championship franchise...ever. But nothing changes the fact that--quietly--our team underwent a MASSIVE gutting this offseason, turning over players at skill-positions, on the line, practically all over the field.

And even if Hackett was calling double-reverse flea flicker screen punts on first down, the team can't afford to miss blocks and fail to find openings like it did on Sunday.

Missed throws, missed lanes, missed blocks, poorly run routes: if the game had been devoid of any of these, then the blame rests with the playcalling. Instead, we watched a game sick with these mistakes.

Hackett does need to do a better job of putting his players in a position to succeed, but that doesn't mean players don't have succeed in the positions they're put in.




I understand after 13 years of playoff football and after 10 consecutive losing seasons, "patience" is a damn-near impossible ask. But c'mon, folks. If you expected a 13-3 season with flawless execution and gameplanning, then you set yourself up for disappointment. Yes, we should all want the best team out there. But that doesn't mean the team's growing pains should be your pleasure. And if you can't live with those pains, there are 31 other bandwagons accepting new passengers.

GO BILLS!


http://www.buffaloru...thaniel-hackett

Edited by The Big Cat, 24 September 2013 - 03:51 PM.


#2 matter2003

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:16 AM

My thing is where are the screens, misdirections, rubs/picks off bunch sets that would free up players just by design?

We were among the best screen teams in the NFL last year...WR screens, RB screens, Middle screens...where are they? Our backs are phenomenal screen backs...

We have a mobile QB but rarely use it to our advantage...where are the misdirections or the waggles that send the run action and line one way and then drags a TE or FB back across the formation usually leaving them wide open especially with aggressive, over pursuing teams...

No picks or rubs that would especially be effective against teams jamming WRs at the line as you can force the DB covering a WR to fight through four defenders to get to his man, or if they switch, likely cause confusion at some point when one of the 3 DBs makes a mental mistake...

This is basic stuff that I saw no evidence of us doing and was very disappointed since this would be the perfect team to do this against...

Edited by matter2003, 24 September 2013 - 11:20 AM.


#3 The Big Cat

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:19 AM

View Postmatter2003, on 24 September 2013 - 11:16 AM, said:

My thing is where are the screens, misdirections, rubs/picks off bunch sets that would free up players just by design?

We were among the best screen teams in the NFL last year...WR screens, RB screens, Middle screens...where are they? Our backs are phenomenal screen backs...

We have a mobile QB but rarely use it to our advantage...where are the misdirections or the waggles that send the run action and line one way and then drags a TE or FB back across the formation usually leaving them wide open especially with aggressive, over pursuing teams...

No picks or rubs that would especially be effective against teams jamming WRs at the line as you can force the DB coveting a WR to fight through four defenders to get to his man, or if they switch, likely cause confusion at some point when one of the 3 DBs makes a mental mistake...

This is basic stuff that I saw no evidence of us doing and was very disappointed since this would be the perfect team to do this against...

Until we know the playbook is no longer "limited," how can we say the coaches trust their players (rookie QB, turnstyle LG, rookie WR, TJ) are ready?

It's been three weeks. If--in ten weeks--we still haven't seen any of these things, it'll be time to raise an eyebrow.

Of course, now the team is in a lose-lose. If they come out and carve the Ravens to ribbons using these kinds of plays, the line will be: they were too idiotic to do this against New York!?

#4 mikef272002

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:22 AM

I think for me anyway the biggest disappointment is seeing the same exact run play called from the same exact formation either going left or right, this is obvious to the defense and is the reason we can't run the ball..I mean if i noticed it after one game imagine the defensive Corr. licking his chops after watching it for 3 games.. Also the lack of getting Spiller in a position in the open to make plays, the middle screen worked wonders last year and I wish they would look at how Chan ran screens and ran the ball w/ Spiller and copied it.. I understand they may be keeping the playbook to a min. for EJ's sake, but you can't tell me you can't find a way to put in some screen plays and better run plays, all he has to do is hand it off...

#5 artmalibu

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:24 AM

Enough blame to get passed around, but I got a little tired of watching running playes right into the loaded box.   I was hoping to see a change of plan and see the spread like Chan ran last year.

#6 Mango

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:24 AM

I don't like the bs in giving an OC a pass because he is a rookie. Athletes progress, they age, and they mature. Hiring somebody to run your offense who is not yet prepared for the job is a lot different than a 22 year old out of college.

I will curb my judgement until later, but Marrone will sink or swim on this hire. Right now it doesn't look good.

I think we will be yet another franchise that looks back and wishes we kept Chan around. Last years offensive scheming with this years defense would be 2-1 if not 3-0.

Nobody can watch these last 3 games and difinitively say we have upgraded the coaching staff as a whole. Marrone seems to be decent at overseeing things, but this offense is destroying this team.

#7 kobe808lak

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:25 AM

We need more designed roll outs for Manuel, he was very good on the run in college.  

I'd like to see a trips formation too, always gets someone open.

#8 The Big Cat

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:27 AM

View PostMango, on 24 September 2013 - 11:24 AM, said:

I don't like the bs in giving an OC a pass because he is a rookie. Athletes progress, they age, and they mature. Hiring somebody to run your offense who is not yet prepared for the job is a lot different than a 22 year old out of college.

I will curb my judgement until later, but Marrone will sink or swim on this hire. Right now it doesn't look good.

I think we will be yet another franchise that looks back and wishes we kept Chan around. Last years offensive scheming with this years defense would be 2-1 if not 3-0.

Nobody can watch these last 3 games and difinitively say we have upgraded the coaching staff as a whole. Marrone seems to be decent at overseeing things, but this offense is destroying this team.

Does Marrone strike you as the kind of guy too proud to know a weight around his ankle when he has one? Me neither.

View Postkobe808lak, on 24 September 2013 - 11:25 AM, said:

We need more designed roll outs for Manuel, he was very good on the run in college.  

I'd like to see a trips formation too, always gets someone open.

We had two or three of those Sunday. I believe they were consistently 6-8 yard gains.

View Postmikef272002, on 24 September 2013 - 11:22 AM, said:

I think for me anyway the biggest disappointment is seeing the same exact run play called from the same exact formation either going left or right, this is obvious to the defense and is the reason we can't run the ball..I mean if i noticed it after one game imagine the defensive Corr. licking his chops after watching it for 3 games.. Also the lack of getting Spiller in a position in the open to make plays, the middle screen worked wonders last year and I wish they would look at how Chan ran screens and ran the ball w/ Spiller and copied it.. I understand they may be keeping the playbook to a min. for EJ's sake, but you can't tell me you can't find a way to put in some screen plays and better run plays, all he has to do is hand it off...

The middle screen also got blown up...A LOT...lost year. And it's not the easiest timing play to execute.

#9 matter2003

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:29 AM

View PostThe Big Cat, on 24 September 2013 - 11:19 AM, said:



Until we know the playbook is no longer "limited," how can we say the coaches trust their players (rookie QB, turnstyle LG, rookie WR, TJ) are ready?

It's been three weeks. If--in ten weeks--we still haven't seen any of these things, it'll be time to raise an eyebrow.

Of course, now the team is in a lose-lose. If they come out and carve the Ravens to ribbons using these kinds of plays, the line will be: they were too idiotic to do this against New York!?

But that's the whole point, why would easy plays and easy completions NOT be in there, but long passes and long developing crossing routes are?

I mean for a team like the Jets that play press man a lot, putting a bunch formation with 3 WRs and having the two outside guys run quick inside slants with the inside guy looping behind them into a flat wheel route or simply the flat will result in his defender needing to fight through 4 guys to get to his man...wide open...Broncos were using similar plays last night against the Raiders...wide open receivers through play design. Easy throws, ball comes out quick, no real skill needed by WR to beat his man.

Same with the misdirection plays...usually lead to wide open players and easy throws...

These are the plays that we should be utilizing..easy plays with high percentage of success to loosen the D up and then attack, not try and run the ball twice and then throw bombs on third and 7...

Edited by matter2003, 24 September 2013 - 11:30 AM.


#10 KD in CT

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:30 AM

View PostThe Big Cat, on 24 September 2013 - 11:19 AM, said:

Until we know the playbook is no longer "limited," how can we say the coaches trust their players (rookie QB, turnstyle LG, rookie WR, TJ) are ready?

It's been three weeks. If--in ten weeks--we still haven't seen any of these things, it'll be time to raise an eyebrow.

Of course, now the team is in a lose-lose. If they come out and carve the Ravens to ribbons using these kinds of plays, the line will be: they were too idiotic to do this against New York!?

Maybe I'm impatient but why is the playbook still so limited?   Isn't training camp and pre-season supposed to be for learning the playbook?

I'm not going to get pissed because EJ makes a poor decision or a poor throw.  I'm going to get pissed because his coaching staff isn't doing anything to make it easier on him (but they think they are by trying to protect him from having to throw the ball).  He's a confident guy -- he's not going to go into a shell if he throws a couple picks and he's not going to crumble under the glaring spotlight of the Buffalo media.   Let the kid play and learn from his mistakes.

#11 The Wiz

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:32 AM

View PostKD in CT, on 24 September 2013 - 11:30 AM, said:

Maybe I'm impatient but why is the playbook still so limited?   Isn't training camp and pre-season supposed to be for learning the playbook?

I'm not going to get pissed because EJ makes a poor decision or a poor throw.  I'm going to get pissed because his coaching staff isn't doing anything to make it easier on him (but they think they are by trying to protect him from having to throw the ball).  He's a confident guy -- he's not going to go into a shell if he throws a couple picks and he's not going to crumble under the glaring spotlight of the Buffalo media.   Let the kid play and learn from his mistakes.
I'm with you here.  He wasn't hanging his head after 8 sacks so just let him play and lets see what happens.

#12 MDFan

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:34 AM

View PostThe Big Cat, on 24 September 2013 - 11:00 AM, said:

One and a half drives into Sunday's game, and no less than five fans in the gameday thread were calling for Hackett's head on a stake.

That's fine. The gameday thread has never been known to be a sanctuary for balanced discourse.

I bit back, a little, then gave up when:
  • It was clearly a futile effort.

  • It was clearly a rough day for the offensive staff, coaches included.
That said, and while fully acknowledging Hackett's shortcomings in the loss, I'm still not ready to blame the playcalling.

Here's why:

Expectations
Rookie quarterback, rookie OC.

The moment the Bills announced Hackett would be taking over the play calling duties, a certain sect of Bills fans (and not necessarily a marginally-sized one, mind you) saw their opportunity to lambaste the front office. Couldn't blame them, really. After Ralph handing over the keys (something The Realists have been clamoring for for years), after jumping on a HC hire that was widely revered league-wide and in the media, and after stealing arguably the best coordinator available in Pettine, there wasn't a lot to bitch about.

Then came Hackett.

Suddenly, a sliver of daylight for the doomers to pounce. Their jumbo-sized microscopes calibrated, they couldn't wait for this guy to give them an excuse to complain.

Suddenly, the first quarter of Sunday's game.

It. Was. On.

The way some "fans" were going bonkers, you would have thought Hackett was calling double-reverse flea flicker screen punts on first down.

They got what they wanted: our lousy, cheap, stuck-in-the-past FO screwed the pooch...AGAIN. What a bunch of !@#$ing losers the Bills are.

Meanwhile: reality.

He is a rookie OC. He is a young rookie OC. And through three games, the Jets have showed their defense is as every bit as good as it's been the last half-decade since Rexy took over.

Oh yeah.

We also have a rookie QB.

And not Andrew--kissed by Christ himself--Luck. We have a rookie QB whose size and intangibles are universally admired, but whose skills and abilities are questionable enough that not since Rex Grossman in 2002 has the first quarterback in a draft come off the board after so many picks.

E.J. Manuel is going to struggle this year. He already has, and he will continue to do so.

Week-to-week analyses have indicated that he's on a short playbook leash as it is, and as we've already acknowledged, he doesn't have an innovator like Chan (who by the way has nearly as many years coaching as Hackett does living) finding ways to hide his shortcomings.

Yet a certain pod of Bills fans expects the Hackett/Manuel duo--after 12 whole quarters of NFL football--to be perfect. And when they're not, they're failures, they're an excuse to pout and say "same Ole Bills."

Well, they're not the same Ole Bills. Fans shouldn't expect them to be, just like they shouldn't expect Brady/Bellicheat mastery, right out of the gate.

Execution
You can argue till you're blue in the fact about whether or not Nix was a good GM, whether or not Whaley is ready to have the keys, or whether or not Buffalo is any position to build a championship franchise...ever. But nothing changes the fact that--quietly--our team underwent a MASSIVE gutting this offseason, turning over players at skill-positions, on the line, practically all over the field.

And even if Hackett was calling double-reverse flea flicker screen punts on first down, the team can't afford to miss blocks and fail to find openings like it did on Sunday.

Missed throws, missed lanes, missed blocks, poorly run routes: if the game had been devoid of any of these, then the blame rests with the playcalling. Instead, we watched a game sick with these mistakes.

Hackett does need to do a better job of putting his players in a position to succeed, but that doesn't mean players don't have succeed in the positions they're put in.




I understand after 13 years of playoff football and after 10 consecutive losing seasons, "patience" is a damn-near impossible ask. But c'mon, folks. If you expected a 13-3 season with flawless execution and gameplanning, then you set yourself up for disappointment. Yes, we should all want the best team out there. But that doesn't mean the team's growing pains should be your pleasure. And if you can't live with those pains, there are 31 other bandwagons accepting new passengers.

GO BILLS!
A terrific post that will likley not register one iota with the pitchfork mob.  Well done anyway.  :thumbsup:

#13 The Big Cat

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:40 AM

View PostKD in CT, on 24 September 2013 - 11:30 AM, said:

Maybe I'm impatient but why is the playbook still so limited?   Isn't training camp and pre-season supposed to be for learning the playbook?

I'm not going to get pissed because EJ makes a poor decision or a poor throw.  I'm going to get pissed because his coaching staff isn't doing anything to make it easier on him (but they think they are by trying to protect him from having to throw the ball).  He's a confident guy -- he's not going to go into a shell if he throws a couple picks and he's not going to crumble under the glaring spotlight of the Buffalo media.   Let the kid play and learn from his mistakes.

View PostThe Wiz, on 24 September 2013 - 11:32 AM, said:

I'm with you here.  He wasn't hanging his head after 8 sacks so just let him play and lets see what happens.

The Preseason and Training Camp he missed the last two weeks of?

View Postmatter2003, on 24 September 2013 - 11:29 AM, said:

But that's the whole point, why would easy plays and easy completions NOT be in there, but long passes and long developing crossing routes are?

I mean for a team like the Jets that play press man a lot, putting a bunch formation with 3 WRs and having the two outside guys run quick inside slants with the inside guy looping behind them into a flat wheel route or simply the flat will result in his defender needing to fight through 4 guys to get to his man...wide open...Broncos were using similar plays last night against the Raiders...wide open receivers through play design. Easy throws, ball comes out quick, no real skill needed by WR to beat his man.

Same with the misdirection plays...usually lead to wide open players and easy throws...

These are the plays that we should be utilizing..easy plays with high percentage of success to loosen the D up and then attack, not try and run the ball twice and then throw bombs on third and 7...

I'm VERY curious to read the All-22 cam analyses this week. May be I'll come back here and eat crow, but I think you're wrong in your assumptions as to what was called/what was executed.

View PostMDFan, on 24 September 2013 - 11:34 AM, said:

A terrific post that will likley not register one iota with the pitchfork mob.  Well done anyway.  :thumbsup:

Ha, thanks. :thumbsup:

#14 The Wiz

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:47 AM

View PostThe Big Cat, on 24 September 2013 - 11:40 AM, said:

The Preseason and Training Camp he missed the last two weeks of?
So these last 3 weeks of actual in game experience and practices are worth less than two weeks of preseason and camp?  I know they are easing him back in but giving him nothing but running plays against a team that is going to stack the box and then expect him to throw on 3rd and long all day isn't a good way to ease him in.

Edited by The Wiz, 24 September 2013 - 11:48 AM.


#15 BringBackFergy

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:48 AM

Nice post Big Cat. I am in agreement with you (as if that matters). My only "gripe" with Hackett is the fact that we have one of the most exciting (and dangerous) RB tandems in the league. In order to utilize them effectively, they should be run in an "I" formation with EJ under center. Once they move the ball with counters, sweeps, dives, they are set up for play action pass which will work to our favor. Otherwise, the read option (shotgun) running plays don't give you the opportunity to have LB's and CB's stutter for a second. If Hackett incorporates some play action more often, I think we'll see better production.  As K-9 said before, the Jets D was amazing and we just didn't open holes this past week. Play action (with a very good fake by EJ) would at least open up the passing game to some degree.

#16 FeartheLosing

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:49 AM

Its not just about EJ. The running game and more specifically CJ Spiller appears to be the bigger problem.

The Bills were very successful at putting up some good offensive numbers the last three years because they ran a shotgun spread offense, and utilized a quick short passing scheme in which the ball was usually out withing 3 seconds. Defenses were forced to cover the entire field against the spread so it made it more difficult to stack the box to stop the run.

So what did we all learn from Chan Gailey the last three years? That his offense does work, its just that he had the wrong QB, and he tying to magically transform a backup QB into another Tom Brady.


Now, this year the Bills seem determined to keep a TE in to protect EJ, and are running traditional pro sets with EJ in shotgun. The few times they went shotgun-spread CJ Spiller had some decent success. The only reason I can think of as to why the Bills aren't utilizing the shotgun spread, 4 wide, single back offense more often is because EJ might not be able to read more then the primary target and get the ball out in three seconds or under like Fitz was able to do.

The Bills need to go back to the shotgun spread offense full time, and give EJ the opportunity to show he can learn to run it.

#17 The Big Cat

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:53 AM

View PostFeartheLosing, on 24 September 2013 - 11:49 AM, said:

Its not just about EJ. The running game and more specifically CJ Spiller appears to be the bigger problem.

The Bills were very successful at putting up some good offensive numbers the last three years because they ran a shotgun spread offense, and utilized a quick short passing scheme in which the ball was usually out withing 3 seconds. Defenses were forced to cover the entire field against the spread so it made it more difficult to stack the box to stop the run.

So what did we all learn from Chan Gailey the last three years? That his offense does work, its just that he had the wrong QB, and he tying to magically transform a backup QB into another Tom Brady.


Now, this year the Bills seem determined to keep a TE in to protect EJ, and are running traditional pro sets with EJ in shotgun. The few times they went shotgun-spread CJ Spiller had some decent success. The only reason I can think of as to why the Bills aren't utilizing the shotgun spread, 4 wide, single back offense more often is because EJ might not be able to read more then the primary target and get the ball out in three seconds or under like Fitz was able to do.

The Bills need to go back to the shotgun spread offense full time, and give EJ the opportunity to show he can learn to run it.

Nice post. I still maintain that Chan's offense--even with Fitz running it--was a playoff offense hamstrung by a high school-caliber defense. But that's completely irrelevant .

To your point: this coaching staff seems keen on adapting, so I trust they'll incorporate a different approach like the one you've outlined.

#18 Mango

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:55 AM

View PostThe Big Cat, on 24 September 2013 - 11:40 AM, said:




The Preseason and Training Camp he missed the last two weeks of?

I'm VERY curious to read the All-22 cam analyses this week. May be I'll come back here and eat crow, but I think you're wrong in your assumptions as to what was called/what was executed.



Ha, thanks. :thumbsup:

Gannon pointed out a bunch of times that nobody is getting open. It looked like we just keep running for hook routes or 3 and a go route.  The jets beat us by playing man, period. They did a bit of confusion at the line stacking everybody, but they made it simple, for their own players, cover your guy. We did nothing to confuse the D, no routes to beat the coverage.

I don't give Manuel a free pass because he missed a lot of opportunities, I blame him for the misfires. I think out WR where not good. Gannon was pretty unhappy about they way they ran all their sideline routes. All signs seem to point to coaching.

#19 CodeMonkey

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 12:04 PM

Condemning any player or coach after 2 or 3 games is forum overreaction at its very finest.
Do I think Manuel had a bad game Sunday, certainly. Am I in love with the game plan or play calling (by the way, we do not know how many plays were changed by Manuel), absolutely not. Do I think the hurry up with this team is a huge mistake, definitely.  But like it or not, particularly the delusional few who were/are predicting playoffs this year, this is a (re)building year.  If I don't see steady improvement in all aspects of the offense in particular the 2nd half of the season I will be extremely disappointed.  But the Bills organization didn't descend into obscurity in one season, and it certainly won't climb out in one season either.

#20 FireChan

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 12:47 PM

View PostCodeMonkey, on 24 September 2013 - 12:04 PM, said:

Condemning any player or coach after 2 or 3 games is forum overreaction at its very finest.
Do I think Manuel had a bad game Sunday, certainly. Am I in love with the game plan or play calling (by the way, we do not know how many plays were changed by Manuel), absolutely not. Do I think the hurry up with this team is a huge mistake, definitely.  But like it or not, particularly the delusional few who were/are predicting playoffs this year, this is a (re)building year.  If I don't see steady improvement in all aspects of the offense in particular the 2nd half of the season I will be extremely disappointed.  But the Bills organization didn't descend into obscurity in one season, and it certainly won't climb out in one season either.

The thing with play calling is you gotta adjust. That's something you can't teach. How many weeks has CJ gotten -2 yards on the option to the left? All three now? Probably 50 plays?

It might be time to stop running that play.