Here's the Bills news of note for Nov. 29th
1 - A bigger role for Justin Hunter?All he's done since joining the Bills is catch touchdowns. Of his seven receptions for Buffalo this season, four of Justin Hunter's catches have gone for scores including last Sunday's game winner in the fourth quarter.
One of the main reasons is because Hunter has largely been used only in red zone packages. But with their numbers down at receiver head coach Rex Ryan thinks it's time Hunter see the field more moving forward.
"I think so," said Ryan of more playing time for Hunter. "All he does is catch touchdowns. I remember that quote. Just like we had T-D Mike (Gillislee), now we've got TD Hunter, touchdown Hunter. He gives us a huge red zone threat, but also I think he does warrant more playing time. With some of the injuries we have there's no reason he shouldn't be able to play more."
Robert Woods is still dealing with a knee injury suffered in Week 11 and Walt Powell exited Sunday's game with an ankle injury. Percy Harvin is dealing with debilitating migraine headaches that kept him out of the Jaguars game. That leaves the team with four healthy receivers in Hunter, Marquise Goodwin, Brandon Tate and Sammy Watkins.
2 - Fixing red zone defenseThrough the first half of the season the Bills had a top five red zone defense. Through the first six games of the season Buffalo allowed just six touchdowns on 18 red zone possessions by their opponents, good for just a 33 percent success rate to rank first in the NFL.
In the last five games however, the success rate for opponents has skyrocketed to 81 percent (13-16), with the last three opponents a perfect eight for eight scoring touchdowns once they reached Buffalo's 20-yard line. The Bills now rank 19th in red zone defense.
So what gives?
"That's an area in particular that we have to get better at," said Ryan. "We've already studied where we're failing in the red zone and I think we're amongst the leaders in the league from the 20 all the way down to the five-yard line, but it's when we get inside the five-yard line they've scored 12 times on 22 plays. So that's a huge area of concern."
Buffalo's defensive staff is already devising ways to improve their performance in goal line situations, and it hasn't all been short yardage runs. Two weeks ago at Cincinnati, Andy Dalton scored on a two-yard run outside the tackle box, but he also threw a one-yard fade to the corner for their other red zone score to go two-for-two against the Bills.
"There are some things to look at obviously," said Ryan. "Everybody runs the same call down there we just have to get better playing down there. That's an area where you can't focus a whole lot, but that area right there is killing us. So we have to do some internal things down there so we can get better there."
3 - Trading touchdownsAnother trend that has disappointed Buffalo's coaching staff is trading touchdowns. In the last three games five of the last seven touchdown drives by the Bills offense has been answered by an opponent's touchdown drive on the ensuing possession.
"I wish we knew, but that's when you've got to be at your best to stop them, but unfortunately we have given up quite a few of those, two back to back this past game," said Ryan. "You've just got to line up and play every play and find a way to get them off the field. That was the thing that was disappointing to me (Sunday)."
Ryan felt the defense was particularly hurt by the read option keepers and scramble runs by Jaguars QB Blake Bortles. He was Jacksonville's leading rusher with 81 yards on eight carries to average better than 10 yards per rush. Bortles converted two third downs for the Jaguars with his legs.
"I thought we had some calls set up to give our coverage a chance and the quarterback makes some big runs on us to convert third downs," said Ryan. "Those are killers. I've mentioned how that can be frustrating for the defense when you have them all covered up and then the quarterback makes a play. Now we know how other teams feel when they play us because Tyrod does the same thing. We've got to balance up the rushing lanes and not let these quarterbacks take off on us."
Fortunately for the Bills, Oakland QB Derek Carr, doesn't run with nearly the success that Bortles has this season. He's averaged less than two yards per carry.