Well I like so many others have had my heart broken many times over by our beloved Bills, and today was no exception. However, for the first time in a long time I feel truly impressed with the team we put on the field today and feel confident going forward. The team is very young, undisciplined, and inconsistent, but those will turn for the better with time.
Buffalo's biggest struggles today were on the offensive side of the ball. However, I was very impressed by the poise, accuracy, and decision making of EJ Manuel from what I saw today and only feel positive things coming from the future. Perhaps a bit of a switch from the preseason, the team seemed a bit more reliant on bigger plays today from the off dense and otherwise did very little. However, EJ had no turnovers and made some excellent throws today, and considering his lack of playing time I feel we should really be happy with what we saw today. The offense stalled far too many times and the line didn't get much of a push today, but we still managed to churn away quite a few yards on the ground and that will likely improve moving forward as well because the Pats run defense is a bit underrated these days with Wilfork clogging up the middle. Still, I was most impressed by EJ today and even though Geno Smith managed to escape with a win, I don't think anyone who watched the games actually felt he performed better than EJ Manuel did today. I was also very happy to see Freddy performing well. I was getting frustrated with people saying he's done and I really liked seeing him prove everyone wrong today.
I am actually giddy about the defense today, and I think people need to bear with me for a bit before they point to the stat sheet and say "what?! 431 yards is good?!". Everyone really needs to look at the bigger picture here. We were missing Gilmore and Byrd and starting young players all over the field. Not only will the players on the field improve, but eventually we will have those two back (well Byrd maybe) and the defense will be even better than it was today.
Again, it comes down to the deeper statistics. Yes NE had 431 yards of offense, but it took them 89 plays to get those yards. Furthermore, Buffalo made the stops when they needed to (as the scoreboard indicates). No they couldn't hold NE's offense on the third downs on that final drive, but they held NE to an incredibly impressive 4.8 yards per play which would put them in the top 5 in the league last season. Combined with the generally timely stops and the turnovers, and I am really looking forward to watching this team grow.
Overall, as depressed as I am over the loss, I am far more confident for the future now than I have ever been. Next week against Carolina is a great chance to test EJs arm and put the run defense to a tougher test. I fully expect to see EJ develop into a quality QB this season and only get better as he learns the game more.