By Paul Wanecski
Regardless of what any wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills has to say, opportunities in the passing game are few and far between. While it is not uncommon for players to mention that they aren’t involved in the offense the way that they would like, at some point those players need to see the forest through the trees. Most recently it was released that wide receiver Sammy Watkins had discussed with his agent the lack of targets he had received. Unfortunately for him, with the offense the way it is, Sammy might not see a huge increase in work any time soon.
The peripheral stats for quarterback Tyrod Taylor appear impressive. In only five games he has been able to maintain a quarterback rating of over 100, average over 8 yards per attempt (which is good enough to be tied for 9th in the league), and has lead the team to 124 total offensive points (ranked 8th best in the NFL). All of these numbers are well above expectation.
Watkins has been disappointed with how much he has touched the ball and that comes as no surprise. He, in three games, has yet to hit 100 yards receiving on the season, averaging a lean 4 targets per game. Perhaps Sammy hasn’t gotten the memo that the rest of the NFL certainly has at this point; the Buffalo Bills don’t throw the football. Currently, the Bills are ranked 27th in the league with 200.2 passing yards per game. Even with all the struggles the Bills have had with injuries, they are still ranked 7th best in rushing yards per game at 128. Clearly Watkins seems to be under the impression that the offense wants to throw the ball more. On average, the Bills are only pulling in 19.4 receptions per game, so Taylor doesn’t have a lot of love to spread around considering he is completing 70% of his pass attempts.
And that is the most interesting point about Watkins comments; he mentioned that in several years, these players (referring to Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel) could be franchise quarterbacks. In three years Taylor will be 30 years old and a free agent, as his contract will void the third year if he takes 50% of the team’s snaps this or next season. Manuel still has to have his option year exercised, which it appears is unlikely since that will put the team on the hook for over $12 million in salary for one year.
Had you told any member of the media prior to the season that a Bills quarterback would have 40 pass attempts per game, the first thing they would ask is “how much did they lose by?” The reality is this offense is built on passing the ball 25 times per game, depending on field position and clock management. They do not have a quarterback like Drew Brees (leading the league with receptions thrown, completing 35 per game) and it’s a good thing they aren’t under the illusion that they do. While players may grumble about involvement, if the team was 5-0, we wouldn’t be hearing this chatter.