Rookie T.J. Graham made a noble gesture after the game Sunday while the Bills were still trying to make sense of their defeat to the Patriots. Graham didn't simply accept his share of responsibility for the loss. The wide receiver demanded blame for Ryan Fitzpatrick's interception in the end zone.
Graham's blunder came on his route when he cut behind Devin McCourty rather than in front of him. He took himself out of position and contributed to his quarterback looking bad when Fitz doesn't need help in that regard. Graham, while admirable, will someday understand that the loss wasn't his fault.
Poor decisions killed the Bills.
Fitzpatrick should have thrown the ball into the stands after realizing Graham veered down the wrong path. It would have allowed the Bills to live for another play. And that's not to solely blame Fitzpatrick for the pick because common sense would have called for an entirely different plan with better options in the first place.
What to do with New England protecting the goal line? A natural option was Stevie Johnson, the franchise receiver, who along with C.J. Spiller in the flat was a decoy on the opposite side of the field. Another alternative was calling for a pass over the defense to Scott Chandler, who at 6-foot-7 was the tallest player on the field.
Instead, Gailey dialed up a short pass play to his inexperienced deep threat who happened to be the smallest player in the offense. Here's how the play unfolded, starting from the headset: bad decision, wrong route, poor decision, terrible pass, predictable result. And the Bills wonder why they're a bad team.
Gailey has a chronic case of counterintelligence, defined in this case as NFL coaches who outsmart themselves. Did the Bills head coach really believe he would buckle the Patriots with a curveball?
The best teams aren't winning with trickery. The best teams dictate how opposing teams defend them, not the other way around. Gailey would be wise to stop playing make-believe with the other team and start believing in his own.
If the Bills want to become a good team, a playoff team, they need to adhere to what they do best: running the ball. You want to help your offensive line? Run the ball. You want to protect your quarterback? Run the ball. You want to throw deep? Run the ball. You want to help that joke the Bills call a defense? Run the ball.
“It opens up everything else," Spiller said Monday. “We seen that [Sunday]. It definitely opened up our passing game. Guys were making plays down the field."
Every week, Gailey and his staff spend hours breaking down every second of videotape and still fail to understand a basic premise that anybody with a calculator would understand in 15 minutes. I'll never be confused with Einstein, but we're not talking about the theory of relativity, either.
It's simple math.
C.J. Spiller is averaging 7.3 yards per carry, the second-highest through nine games in NFL history since 1960. He's is averaging 5.5 yards per carry in his career, which is more than Bo Jackson and Jim Brown. Spiller doesn't belong in the same sentence with Jackson or Brown, but can we all agree he's a dangerous back?
Fred Jackson is averaging 4.6 yards per carry, which is very good. It's also well below Spiller, who has more attempts (87) than Jackson (75).
You would think Buffalo would be anxious to get Spiller more involved to justify picking him ninth overall. He's had 20 touches only twice in 39 games over three NFL seasons. He's had 15 or more carries only three times. He had the ball 13 times, including nine carries for 70 yards, against the Pats.
“I think we've got a good 1-2 punch there," Gailey said. “Ask New England. What do they think? We moved the ball on them and scored points on them. That's the key."
No, Chan, the key is winning.
Spiller was wide open at the 12-yard line on the Bills' final offensive play Sunday. He would have slipped inside the 5. He's a dynamic playmaker. With a little juke, he might have scored and won the game. Spiller was ignored. He and Johnson watched from afar while McCourty clinched the win for the Patriots.
New England must have been thanking Gailey behind closed doors Sunday. Spiller averaged 7.8 yards on his nine carries, which makes you wonder why he didn't have a dozen more. Spiller was on the field for only 34 offensive plays, or less than half, against the Patriots. He was on the sideline for 40 plays.
Jackson is sidelined Thursday against Miami, which hurts the Bills. This isn't a C.J.-Fred issue. They're better when he's healthy. Both are terrific runners, blockers and receivers. Gailey hasn't figured out how to effectively use both at the same time.
Buffalo would have numerous options. Either or both could line up in the backfield or as receivers. It's not as if his offense is loaded with bigger threats. Donald Jones and Ruvell Martin don't exactly strike fear into opponents. We still don't know whether Spiller can hold up to the punishment of getting the ball 25 or 30 times, but it's time to find out Thursday.
Gailey needs to make smart decisions. He needs to get the ball to Spiller and stop setting his team up for failure.