I spent some time Tuesday evening watching the all-22 tape from the Buffalo Bills' 35-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. There was obviously a lot to like, even if much of that was skewed by a horrible effort on the part of the Chiefs. There is one concern I'd like to address today, however, and it deals with Buffalo's group of young cornerbacks.
Without getting as detailed as we usually do, here's what has stuck out to me through the team's first two games this season: to a man, Buffalo's cornerbacks are generally pretty horrible playing the ball in the air.
Leodis McKelvin has been benched from nickel cornerback duties for being particularly awful in this department, and this is something he's become notorious for: even when he has solid (or even great) coverage, his inability to make plays on the football often results in easy completions.
To a much lesser - but still very relevant - extent, young corners Stephon Gilmore and Aaron Williams have struggled in this regard, as well. Williams gave up a fourth-quarter score to Dwayne Bowe on Sunday; that play is pictured atop this article, and you can see how Bowe plucked the ball out of the air with Williams in (what should have been) perfect position. Much earlier in the game, Gilmore blew a would-be interception opportunity when he couldn't properly track the ball in the air (though the sun may have played a part in that gaffe).
Between Weeks 1 and 2, the Bills saw a dramatic improvement in their overall pass coverage. The young corner group was much more aggressive in its approach, and the Bills were able to rack up five sacks largely because of strong coverage (and they were aided by the hesitant nature of Matt Cassel, as well).
Improvement is good, but they're not out of the woods yet, and it's chiefly because they still struggle to make plays when the ball's in the air - particularly on deep routes.