Some Week 2 Thoughts

That was a fun game wasn't it?  It's nice to have the heart pounding in an exciting game that has some meaning with the Bills coming out on top, now isn't it?  I hope this mini-run can continue because it sure is fun having a team winning games and playing pretty well.  Unfortunately, the dang Patriots have to be coming to town ready to slap us all back to reality. We'll see.

- 34 first downs is incredible. I saw the stat after the game and thought that it was a pretty nice stat. Turns out, it's a franchise record. I think they needed every single one of those!

- Maybe our fortunes are finally turning. The Bills scored 35 points in the 2nd half of a home game, the most since the Comeback Game.  It was also the biggest halftime deficit overcome since that game. That's some good mojo right there, I must say.

- I hate to say it, but somebody needs to smack Da'Norris Searcy in the back of the head. He is extremely lucky he has a 33 inch vertical and long arms (33 1/2"). Anything less than that and Denarius Moore pulls down the Hail Mary and Searcy is the goat. Just knock it down, kid! There's no need to go for the pick there and potentially end up with the tie-goes-to-the-receiver outcome.  I think my heart stopped and I was about to void my bowels because of this play. If I had known the play was being reviewed, and it took 10 minutes, I would likely be dead. Phew, dodged a bullet.

- Speaking of Moore, that dude is a stud. Speed, great hands, leaping ability, solid route running, and he goes at gets the ball. How did he last until the 5th round?  The Raiders got a major steal.  He made Darrious Heyward-Bey look like Michael Bay in one game.

- What was up with all the Raider fans in the Ralph?  When they showed the field view of the Moore TD, you could see dozens of Raiduh fans in the background going nuts in the opposite endzone.  That's just not right, and it's going to be much worse when all the Patriots fans come barreling into town Sunday.  Hopefully, any Bills fan who sold their lower level tickets, did so to other Bills fans.

- Two plays deep in Raiders territory could have easily gone the other way and ended the game for the Bills. The first was the Scott Chandler touchdown where Tyvon Branch let an easy interception slide right through his hands and into Chandlers'. Touchdown and the lead for the Bills, while the Raiders could have protected the lead and tried to run the clock out over the last four minutes. This play was pretty lucky for the Bills.  The Donald Jones save wasn't.  On the poorly thrown fade to the endzone right at the end of the game, Jones made a fantastic play swatting the ball out of Chris Johnson's hands as he turned DB.  Great, heady play and it helped give the Bills new life. 

- Ryan Fitzpatrick played an incredibly accurate and savvy game.  The Raiders gave him the underneath short game and he took advantage routinely hitting David Nelson and Stevie Johnson between the numbers. There were a few intermediate shots to Johnson down the sideline which resulted in a catch and some penalties. Other than that, it was all underneath.  It's going to be tough to continue this type of production with that type of passing game. The Raider defense dictated the underneath stuff, but going forward Fitz will need to start hitting some passes down field.  Teams are going to start tightening up those gaps underneath and potentially bringing another player down into the box in run looks. In order to keep the short passing game and run game so open, the field needs to get bigger. Keeping the safeties back a bit will help with that.  I'd love to see Chandler down the seam or Brad Smith on a fly, to at the very least keep the defense honest.  Belichick is going to do whatever he can to shut down the over the middle passing game this week; time to beat somebody deep.

- Fred Jackson is just incredible. What a great player and a great story. He just keeps getting better and better in all aspects of his game, and he's so versatile. He lined up out wide numerous times and even had a few catches out of that look. He picked up some blitzers from time to time. He was a lead blocker, and a darn good one at that, for CJ Spiller on a big run. And he continues to pile up chunks of yards on the ground. The OL continues to do a great job opening holes for him, but Fred is doing a great job taking advantage of those. That 43 yard touchdown run was a thing of beauty and really gave the offense the shot of life they needed. I love watching this guy run and show the league how good he is. Too bad he didn't get more chances earlier in his career.

- Did CJ Spiller just become an NFL RB?  He was actually breaking some tackles and shooting upfield for some big gainers.  I thought this was, BY FAR, his best game as a pro and actually gives me a little confidence that he might actually be able to contribute in the run game going forward. He seems more decisive than he was last year and in the preseason, looking for the hole and just taking it. He won't continue to average almost 9 yards a carry for long, but he can certainly pick up 5 yards a pop.  It sure would be lovely to see him rip off a 70 yard touchdown run soon (Sunday, please).

- Speaking of the run game, I feel vindicated on my thoughts that the Raiders' front 7 was vastly overrated. They were awful last year against the run and even worse on Sunday. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea that they were such a dominating, scary group.  They can be run on at will and I'm glad the Bills easily took advantage of that. I've never seen a unit get so much pub after one game to completely negate how awful they were before that. It was simply baffling. 

- Great job by the OL to dominate them and give our RB's some huge holes to run through.  It was also a great job of keeping Fitz clean and able to throw without pressure for most of the game.  One sack allowed in two weeks and the top rushing offense in the league speaks volumes to how well this group has played, despite playing some mediocre defenses. When you rush for 217 yards in a game, you are doing something right. I just hope they can keep this up because I'm not convinced this group went from such a weakness to such a strength all of a sudden, but I'll take it!  Demetrius Bell has done a fantastic job thus far. 

- The interior OL continues to push defenders around. Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly were barely a rumor Sunday and I saw some phenomenal seal blocks to get Jackson and Spiller the lane they needed to run through. Vince Wilfork and Albert Haynesworth, with Jerod Mayo behind them is going to be a challenge this week. I think they'll be up to it.

- Funny quote from Tommy Kelly after the game Sunday: "That team's not better than us," Kelly said. "We gave them that game. Simple as that." Ha! Maybe if you didn't get abused all game, the outcome would have been different.

- Stevie Johnson is a stud.  His move to get open on his touchdown catch is a coach's wet dream. That was just a slick, impossible to stop route and he ran it perfectly.  Johnson is so slippery and has fantastic footwork. He is like the WR version of Fred Jackson. I love watching him play and hope his groin doesn't give him much trouble this week. I smell a monster game this week, if the groin is healthy.

- David Nelson continues to excel in the slot, the position he really belongs in. I don't want to see him on the outside at all, I'd much rather see him use his size to carve out space underneath. His great hands really give Fitz a fantastic option over the middle.

- Donald Jones continues to play well even if the stats don't show it. He ran a great route on the 4th down conversion and made a tough catch.  The play to knock the ball away in the endzone doesn't show up on the stat sheet, but it was as important as any play. He is blocking really well in the running game and just doing his job well. The stats will improve.

- I was high on Ruvell Martin as I've seen him make some big plays in the NFL. He's got great size and adequate speed, but he can't keep dropping passes. Those opportunities are few and far between for him, so he has to take advantage. The one drop where he was wide open underneath with room to run was embarrassing.  I still think he makes a big play sometime soon.  He's going to have to, by default.  Another thing, how was Branch now flagged for a personal foul on Martin's drop late in the game?  Not only did he hit a defenseless receiver, he launched himself, head first, towards Martin's shoulder/head. I watched the replay a few times and couldn't believe nothing was called. The NFL bends over backwards to make these calls, yet nothing here on Sunday.

- I like Scott Chandler. Solid blocker and continues to make plays in the passing game. The concentration to hang onto that TD was great, even if it was lucky that the ball even got to him.  With the Patriots likely to focus on Johnson, I expect Chandler to get plenty of opportunities this week.

- Sucks for Roscoe. He got hurt on a non-contact play and that's never a good thing.  Hope he just planted funny and will be back soon enough. We could certainly use a little speed on offense.

- The Raiders will beat the Jets next week.

- I continue to be impressed by the run defense. They did a great job of shutting down Darren McFadden, despite a number of broken tackles.  That guy is an absolute stud (top 3 RB) and for the most part the Bills shut him down.  Other than a bigger run for Michael Bush and the reverse to Moore, the Bills front 7 dominated the run game.  Sign me up for that every week.  I do expect more teams to run draws, misdirections and reverses against us.  These types of plays still tend to hurt the D, especially when somebody over-pursues.

- I continue to unsurprised and disappointed with the pass defense.  It stinks, notably the pass rush.  Outside of the occasional pressure (even from Chris Kelsay!), there's very little push in the pocket. Kyle Williams and Marcel Dareus have done a great job in the run game, but have been neutralized pretty easily, thus far, in their pass rush.  We need them to collapse the pocket in the QB's face more often, giving the back 7 a better chance at success. 

- I've been shocked to see Kellen Heard out there so much. He hasn't played poorly, I just thought we wouldn't see him that much. I guess Spencer Johnson and Alex Carrington are really going to be kept on the outside for the majority of their snaps.

- Our edge rush have been non-existent to this point.  Shawne Merriman just hasn't been able to beat his opponent yet, which is a concern.  It looked like he was held a few times Sunday, but maybe he just was driven into the turf?  I don't know if he's hurting, but he's been ineffective, and that simply needs to improve. I hated the idea of him being the "key" or "final piece" to the pass rush puzzle, as Buddy Nix talked him up this offseason, because a team simply needs more than that in their pass rush. Even if Merriman was dominating right now, the team still needs more rushers. With him struggling, the team has no answer and no ability to get after the QB. It's painful to see at times, especially when Jason Campbell has days to throw. Tom Brady is going to dissect the crap out of this defense Sunday if Gailey, Edwards and Wannstadt don't come up with some unique looks to get pressure. It is an absolute must (the key to the game) to pressure Brady, especially right in his face, if the team is going to pull the upset. They don't have a chance if Brady has all day to throw.

- I still believe the pass rush is going to be the single biggest factor for why this team doesn't make a playoff push. If you can't get pressure on the QB, you have to be perfect in other areas. Thus far, Fitz and the running game have been awesome, but will that continue? When the defense needs to make a play, how will they do it without a pass rush? Might be time to start dialing up some different looks and unique blitzes.

- It's too bad Robert Eddins got hurt. He might have gotten a chance to rush the passer this year.  Danny Batten might be the only other option right now.  I know they keep moving him around, but it's time to give Arthur Moats a chance (assuming he'd be healthy enough) to get after the QB.  Imagine if he KO's Brady this Sunday :)

- I continue to be impressed by Nick Barnett. He's looked great so far, especially in the run game.  He's been all over the field and been a sure tackler in space. He definitely doesn't look as quick as he once did, but his ability to move around is still above average. 14 tackles and the game shifting forced fumble against Oakland were huge.  He has looked a step behind in coverage on RB's thus far, but he's had to shadow Jamaal Charles, Dexter McCluster and Darren McFadden, so its hard to fault him.  There haven't been any big plays out of those guys once they've caught the ball, thanks to Barnett's tackling.  Keep it up hoss.

- Merriman, Kelsay, Carrington, Batten and whoever else has lined up on the outside have done a pretty solid job of funneling.  I don't recall too many running plays that have gotten outside of them, besides the occasional draw or reverse. Solid work thus far in the run game out of them.

- Did anybody play a worse game than Leo McKelvin the other day? He was just atrocious. If you're going to give a WR a ten yard cushion, at least don't get torched deep multiple times.  Leo just doesn't seem to get it, and it doesn't look like he ever will. The physical talent is there, but he's just not very good at playing CB right now.  He actually started the game pretty well, almost coming up with a pick six on a nice break and playing some tighter coverage. As the game wore on, his cushion got larger and he got beat often. I'd much rather line him up on the line of scrimmage and give him a chance to play bump and run. Enough with this cushion. If he's going to get beat deep, let it happen by trying to play tight coverage.  At least then, the underneath stuff might be tougher to complete against him. Instead, he's allowing everything right now.  Thankfully, it wasn't Leo that had to go up for the Hail Mary, because Moore would have won that battle, again. 

- Did Reggie Corner get much playing time? He must have played reasonably well (or not at all) since I don't remember seeing him get beat at all.  Kudos to him. You've got to start somewhere.

- Jairus Byrd is a stud in the run game. I love watching him come up and fill, as he's gotten so much better at it.  He continues to disappoint in the passing game, though. He's just so slow back there, reacting and recovering. I want to see QB's throwing some wounded ducks over the middle again, because he'll be all over those.  He made some big open field tackles against Oakland, showing how much he has improving his tackling since his rookie year.

- What is George Wilson's vertical? 8, 10 inches tops? He's been solid, though, thus far. Even though Donte Whitner got an absolute gift INT from Jon Kitna this week, it's hard to imagine anybody missing him right now.

- I think I like seeing CJ Spiller returning punts again.  If he can get a crease, his speed will finally get a chance to kick in. If the Bills can force the Pats to punt at all this week (not confident in that), Spiller will have a great chance to make the big play we've been dying to see him make. Hope he has another big week 3 against the Pats for a second straight year.

- I don't know if anybody has noticed, but Brian Moorman has had a great start to the year. He's avoided the shanks that became so prevalent the last few season and is booming the ball again.  He's outkicked the coverage a few times, but that's better than the 25 yarder off the side of his foot every other time he trots out there. I hope this consistency continues as the weather starts to turn.


Whoa, this got long.  Anywho, to wrap it up, this team has played some great football the first two weeks. They are starting to get some recognition and praise for their play.  I love to see that, but it means nothing if they can't sustain the success. Sunday will be the biggest game in years, maybe since the end of the 2004 season, and the Ralph should (better) be rocking. The team needs to start fast and put some points on the board. If they fall behind Brady and the Pats, I'm not sure they can make another comeback. It's going to be important to sustain drives, churn out yards on the ground and keep the ball out of Brady's hands. They need to finish drives with TD's, just like against Oakland, and win the turnover battle. The offense simply cannot turn the ball over and expect to win, and the defense needs to find a way to force a turnover or two. Avoiding the mental errors, playing effective and efficient football and getting some stops will be the best way to pull the shocking upset. I can't wait for Sunday and hopes the team really comes to play and stick it to the Patriots.

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of

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