Defending the Tight End. This is going to be an issue until the following things change: Buffalo drafts an all-world strong safety that can cover tight ends; Buffalo changes to a 4-3 defense; Buffalo's pass rush gets to the quarterback before the tight end gets open. Good pass catching tight ends are kryptonite to the 3-4. The inside linebackers are too slow to cover the tight end in the 3-4, and the outside linebackers have contain and rushing responsibilities. That leaves the strong safety to cover the tight end. When Buffalo ran the defense a decade ago, Henry Jones (essentially a big cornerback) was able to shut most tight ends down. That limits the defense, though, taking Cover 2 away as a coverage option. Get used to it...
Dropped Passes. Bad teams have to limit mistakes in order to win. Some dropped passes put Buffalo in bad conversion distances, or stopped drives. Lee Evans, in particular, stood out. The post pattern where Ryan Fitzpatrick put in on the numbers while being blitzed would have extended a drive. These are mistakes that a team searching for its first win cannot allow to happen.
Extended Drives. Buffalo had Chicago's offense by the jugular most of the afternoon. What they couldn't do was end drives. There were too many Bears drives that were put into third-and-long situations, where George Edwards dialed up the right blitz, only to see Jay Cutler scramble and make an impossible completion, or simply run for the first down. Boys, when blood is in the water, the drive has to end. Especially when the initial offensive play is beaten by the defensive call.
Run Defense. I'm almost hesitant to write this. I'm almost sure that Buffalo looked OK in run defense because the ' offensive line is worse that Buffalo's. Let's give some credit where it's due. For the first time all year, Buffalo's front seven defenders not named Kyle Williams looked like they were in proper position to make plays. Sometimes they did, and sometimes they didn't, leading to losses that Chester Taylor and Matt Forte converted into no-gains. Maybe the defenders are starting to get a grasp of the system? We'll see if this was an aberration or not very soon.
Blitzing. Again, I'm not sure if Buffalo did a good job or if the Bears offensive line made thelook better than their usual selves. In general, Buffalo dialed up some decent blitzes and got good pressure on Cutler. We've covered the blitzing's limited effectiveness, though it was good to see linebackers and defensive backs thrown at the quarterback. This may again be a case of the players finally getting a grasp of the system. Time will tell.
Stevie Johnson. Many folks have called Lee Evans a very good number two receiver. It may now be the case, as Stevie Johnson is making a strong case to be the Bills' number one receiver. Looking like a young Eric Moulds, Johnson was mostly uncoverable, getting open underneath and gaining yards after the catch in bunches. He's a bit taller than Moulds and not quite as muscular or fast, but may be more instinctive about getting open. Whether you agree with the comparison or not, Johnson is clearly staking his claim to be the number one receiver as each game goes by. That's a good thing.
Buffalo continues to be almost good enough to win. It is heartening to know that despite being 0-8, the team doesn't compete as poorly as listless Dallas, San Francisco, or Carolina, all teams that I think Buffalo could beat. At this point, development is evident, and that's good enough for a bottom out year. Buffalo does need to win a game though, to avoid "worst team ever" monikers. They are far from that, though three point losses are getting old.
Next Up: A home game versus an improving Lions team at 1PM on November 14.