Observations from Preseason game 2

My first thought and the only one that matters is that this was an ugly, awful game by Buffalo. The offense was horrible and the defense not much better. If I had one takeaway from tonight it's that it's clear that our team still has a ways to go before we are competitive again. That being said, let's look at some of the major points from tonight's game.

  • Improvement in Special Teams - Compared to last week's disastrous performance, this week was a revelation. While we still don't know if anyone on the Bills can return kicks (thanks NFL), we do know that Lindell is capable of booting well out of the endzone if he wants. The coverage units were solid on all the returns and Moorman and Forrest both had their moments. Searcy had no mistakes on punt return duty. There was also a nifty direct snap to extend the first drive. Solid work all around.
  • Spiller Shows improvement - Coming in to the game it was noted that CJ Spiller would be the starter and would be getting a bunch of looks to see how he's progressing. And he answered those questions pretty well, with some good runs and a pair of decent catches. His statline isn't too impressive - 6 runs for 10 yards, but the o-line wasn't doing him any favors. If Spiller improves his patience and awareness a bit more I think he could be a strong half of a 2-back tandem.
  • Nick Barnett making an impact - When Poz's replacement came into town people were wondering if this guy could be a full-time replacement for our former fan favorite. If Barnett plays like he did tonight, I think we won't have any complaints. In a half of work, Barnett had 3 tackles (one for a loss) and a pass defensed. He only had one poor play, a screen in which he over-pursued because (as Steve Tasker put it) he was so athletic he got to the play before it happened. I think we'll grow to like this guy.
  • Bills' Offensive Line woes continue - Last week the concern was our lack of NFL-quality depth. This week it was a general all-around ugly performance by our big guys up front. Chiefly responsible was Demetrius Bell, who had an awful game. I credited him with a pressure, a sack, and a TFL given up, and noticed him getting pancaked or having blocks beaten at other times. I didn't notice any other major problems with the starters, but the depth was also pretty bad. Cordaro Howard and Mansfield Wrotto just don't look like NFL talent, at all. Both gave up multiple pressures.
  • Poor play-calling - I noticed the Bills seemed to be very uncomfortable with the new plays inserted into their playbook. It looked like Gailey was trying to run a bigger package than his offense was ready for, and wanted to almost prove a point by forcing them to fail with it. There were far too many passes on 1st down for the level of success the offense was having with them. The Bills ran for 4.5 YPC against a team that was the 2nd worst run defense in the NFL last year. So why did they have a 40-28 Pass-Run ratio? Gailey went to a more simple offense after taking out the starters but still threw more than he ran, which killed a lot of the offense's momentum.
  • Quick Hits:
    • The Bills and Broncos looked fired up tonight and there was a bit of rough playing on both team's parts. Denver seemed like they were out for blood with a couple of the tackles they made and I was yelling at the TV with the Jones hit and Spiller's gang-tackle. I was mad to see Denver manhandling our team but appreciated that the Bills were doing their best to fight back.
    • Andy Levitre ran some plays at 3rd string center tonight. I remember the one game he had to sub at Center and it was not pretty, but he did all his snaps fine and was good blocking at the anchor of the line. It's a long shot and I don't believe it but this could be a way of seeing if it's okay to trade or move Geoff Hangartner from his current backup center spot to the RG position. So a line of Bell-Levitre/Rinehart-Wood-Hangartner/Urbik-Pears, with Levitre able to come in at backup C?
    • The Bills' coverage was pretty awful tonight, with Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd just having their way with our defense. Part of that could be a weaker pass rush, but we still need to do a better job defending our routes.
    • I think Ed Wang had a decent game. He looked better run blocking and didn't give up any major big plays. Let's hope for more like that.
    • Marcus Easley looked shaky at the start, especially when he had to come in for Donald Jones, but once he got comfortable we started to see the potential he has. Easley looked aggressive running his routes and wasn't afraid to fight for a catch or a few more yards. 
    • Naaman Roosevelt has stepped up as the David Nelson of this preseason. While Nelson found himself shut out (through no fault of his own), Roosevelt always seems to be making the clutch receptions and 1st downs that our backup offense needs. He's gone from being a borderline cut to having a solid roster spot.
    • Ryan Fitzpatrick had a bad night by anyone's standards, but especially by someone who needs to prove that he can be our go-to QB for the future. Out of his 16 throws, Fitz only had 6 completions for 44 yards and an interception. While his YPC were decent, the YPA was just awful. Part of it was just poor accuracy. I measured Fitz with 5 bad throws - throws which were incomplete because he threw them inaccurately and wasn't under pressure. That includes his interception. Just to cover the rest of his incompletions, 2 were throwaways when he was about to get sacked. 1 pass was batted, 1 was the Donald Jones hit, and 1 was a well-defended Champ Bailey breakup. Yes, Fitz was under pressure. However, his timing and accuracy were just off in general all night. And that didn't help his teammates.
      • Marcell Dareus kept things going well with another sack, fighting off a double team and just playing like a beast. He looks to be just a special talent.
      • Aaron Williams was not too noticeable tonight - usually a good thing. He broke free of a block to make a good tackle, and had some ups and downs in coverage but nothing bad like his little stretch of plays last week.
      • Da'Norris Searcy looked pretty good at safety, though he may have blown an assignment on a 2nd half touchdown which Reggie Corner had no safety help on. Searcy did come up and have a good tackle in run support.
      • Johnny White - well, you know the story. The backup o-line collapsed and White was slammed into the turf. We hope he's okay.
      • Michael Jasper came in for a little bit at the end of the game. Nothing too noticeable - he did seem to be getting pushed away from the play every now and then. I feel like this reminds me of Torell Troup's rookie season - after bulking up his core and training his hand techniques Troup emerged as a borderline starter. Jasper needs to do a lot of improving to be NFL level but has the potential.
      • Kamar Aiken had a few good catches and looks like a decent practice squad option.
      • No Kelvin Sheppard, Chris White, Justin Rogers, or Chris Hairston tonight. :(
      • Danny Batten, though he's not really a rookie, is still playing his first full games of football. He played almost the whole game and did pretty nicely, making several tackles.
    What I'd like to see next week:
  • Some down-to-earth playcalling from Chan Gailey. Yes, we know you want to run a spread offense. But if your line can't pass-block and your QB can't throw on target, maybe it's worth doing some 12 or 21 personnel formations to try and work your way forward bit by bit. Control the clock. Stop throwing on 1st down and trying to overcome 2nd and 10 or 3rd and 10's.
  • Better performance from the offensive line. They are just bad, awful, terrible, and make me want to cry. Jonathan Martin is looking very appealing as a prospect right now. This team will live and die by the o-line's performance.
  • More accuracy from Fitz. I understand he was under pressure all night and lost a couple of receivers. But 6-16 is not excusable, and neither are those yards per attempt numbers. Seriously, he needs to step things up.
  • A pass rush and some coverage. The secondary looked bad all night and it wasn't helped by the front 7's poor rushing ability. Danny Batten did okay, but he's no Shawne Merriman. We need him back in here to help us wreak havoc. Otherwise this team is toast.


Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of

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