There is a scene from the most under-appreciated sitcom in television history, Arrested Development, that comes to mind tonight. Michael Bluth, the series' main character, opens his fridge and pulls out a paper bag on which is written the following message: "DEAD DOVE. DO NOT EAT." Michael opens the bag, peers inside, sees that the bag does in fact contain a dead dove, and mutters, chagrined, "I don't know what I was expecting."
If you watched the Buffalo Bills drop their pre-season opener by a score of 42-17 to the Washington Redskins, you should probably feel a bit like Michael Bluth right now.
The Bills committed penalties - penalties that killed their own drives and extended Washington's. They committed pre-snap penalties. They wasted timeouts, blew formations and coverages, made reads too slowly, and couldn't capitalize on the few early opportunities they got. They turned the ball over, allowed big plays defensively and on special teams, and couldn't make any of their own until digging themselves into a 35-3 third-quarter hole.
In short, they played like a team that has overhauled pretty much everything they did for four years in a seven-month period. They played poorly. Tonight, they were the warningly-labeled paper bag in your fridge. What you saw wasn't surprising in the least.
Hot Start Is Short-Lived
Trent Edwards and the first-team offense started off well enough. After Buffalo's first-unit defense got off the field in short order, the offense moved quickly and efficiently down the field, though a holding penalty on Jonathan Stupar derailed what was looking like a touchdown drive. Rian Lindell's field goal made it 3-0; Edwards completed 5 of 6 passes on the drive for 44 yards.
It was all downhill from there. The first-team defense gave up touchdowns on their next two drives, one of which was set up by an ugly Edwards interception on an ill-advised pass intended for Lee Evans. Edwards completed just 1 of his next 6 passes for 14 yards with the aforementioned pick. Buffalo quickly found itself in a 14-3 hole.
After the second-team defense gave up an ugly touchdown reception to Fred Davis, punt returner Brad Banks took one 77 yards to the house to make it 28-3 just after the start of the second half. Devin Thomas then torched a blown (to say the least) coverage for a 44-yard touchdown to make it 35-3. After fourth quarter scores from receiver David Nelson and running back Joique Bell narrowed the score to 35-17, Buffalo's defense wore down, surrendering another rushing touchdown for the final score of the game.
It was ugly early, and it was ugly often. No way to talk ourselves around that simple, undeniable fact. If you're a glass-half-empty type of human, you're unhappy. If you're glass-half-full, you'll realize that, quite literally, there's nowhere to go but up.
A Few Positives Puncture A Dreary Evening
I won't waste your time with my sunshine and butterflies style, because I don't have a lot of material to do so in the first place.
- Kyle Williams seems to be adjusting to the nose tackle position quite well. He looked active and strong tonight.
- We knew this going in, but the Bills really can't go wrong at running back. All five guys looked competent tonight, with Bell and Chad Simpson breaking off several long runs. Even fullback Rodney Ferguson displayed flashes of competence as a lead blocker.
- A few players - Dwan Edwards, Donte Whitner, Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch, for starters - look to be ready for the regular season.
- David Nelson was a pleasant surprise at receiver, hauling in five passes for 47 yards with the TD and looking agile and smooth in space.
Yeah, that's about it.
Speaking Of Fred And Marshawn...
Buffalo's two incumbent running backs left this game early with injuries. Early reports indicate that Jackson's hand injury will keep him out of the remainder of the pre-season. They were later joined by rookie defensive end Alex Carrington, who appeared to sustain the most serious injury in the third quarter
I'm still trying to decide if I have the mental pain threshold to re-watch this travesty tomorrow for more insightful analysis, but that's the current plan. Please don't hold me to it if I choose the route of self-preservation. For now, leave your snap-judgment thoughts on the "new-look" Bills in the comments section. Thanks to the dozens of fans who contributed 1,025 comments in tonight's GameThread.