In our last post recapping the 36-26 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars that the Buffalo Bills suffered in Week 5 last year, I thought it'd be prudent to re-visit some of the post-game discussions we had here. Either we'd be confirming our original suspicions, or we'd be unearthing something new. Regarding this Jags game, that job was made easier by the team's bye week.
Post-game: Immediately following the game (or, more accurately, as soon as I got back from Ralph Wilson Stadium), I wrote a post-game blurb blaming a porous defense and offensive mistakes (mostly in the form of penalties) for the Bills squandering an early 10-0 lead and a 3-0 edge in the turnover battle.
After re-watching the contest, that breakdown still looks accurate. David Garrard carved up Buffalo's pass defense like a hot knife through butter, and the Bills squandered scoring opportunities in the red zone with stupid, costly penalties.
Ron's O-Line notes: In his weekly review of the Bills' performance in the trenches, Ron expressed irritation that Bills head coach Chan Gailey continued to rotate reserves (in this case, Cordaro Howard and Kraig Urbik) into the game at inopportune times. I didn't pay it much attention back in October, but having re-watched the game, I'll concur - Gailey could've been more selective about when he subbed Demetrius Bell and Eric Wood out of the game. Those players were not awful (well, Urbik wasn't), but it threw the offense out of rhythm at crucial points in the contest. Thankfully, all of that nonsense stopped after the bye week, if I recall correctly.
I don't have a lot to add to Ron's notes, because they reflect pretty much what I saw - Wood was the team's best run blocker, Levitre the best pass blocker (which is obviously a problem), and overall the unit was not great.
I paid particularly close attention to Bell, and thought he was just OK. Having seen him in a few games in this re-watch, I'm hoping all of the rhetoric about him getting stronger this off-season is the truth, because he's got the finesse part of the game down pat. He really moves well, and can protect the edge with ease. But he can be tossed around - Aaron Kampman got everyone in this game, including Bell a few times - and really needs to improve not just his strength, but his reactions to counter-moves. I'm curious to see if that latter aspect of his game improved at all as the year progressed.
Bye week couch scouting: After the Jags game, the Bills hit the bye, and I took that time to consolidate some notesI'd taken over the first five weeks of the season and scout the defense a little bit. I couldn't re-watch the Jags game back then, as the game had been blacked out locally, so I totally missed the Torell Troup business we discussed yesterday. Not having re-watched the team's first four games for a variety of reasons, it's tough to draw too many conclusions from that post and the Jags re-watch. But I'll give it the old college try.
Regarding Troup, I actually wrote this post-game: "Williams and Troup performed rather well inside." The only way I could have been wronger about that is if Williams had played as poorly as Troup did.
Other than that, the only point of contention I'd have with myself at this point in time is my assessment of Dwan Edwards. I wrote then - again, taking the first four games into account - that Buffalo's prize free agent signing had struggled. I watched him fairly closely against Jacksonville, and I thought, looking back, that he was pretty solid. It's not his fault he couldn't generate much pass rush as a 4-3 defensive end, because he shouldn't be asked to do that in the first place. Against the run, he consistently held the point of attack, though he did have trouble shedding from time to time. He was also Buffalo's best hustle defender, routinely chasing plays down the field successfully. The Bills get a healthy Edwards back next season, and that's going to be a huge boon for this defense.