Well, that happened.
After slogging through a clunker of an opener, the Bills have little time dwell on their 13-7 loss, as they fly home for a Thursday night tilt versus the Jets. While many of the negatives were fairly obvious, the game wasn't all bad, as some players put up solid performances. Others, on the other hand, performed in a way that left quite a bit to be desired. Here are Week 1’s ‘‘winners’’ and losers.
Winner: Jerry Hughes
I wrote early on Sunday that the pass rush would need to come up big and Jerry Hughes certainly played his part. The veteran edge rusher had 6 tackles and 2 sacks to go with numerous hurries (and a roughing the passer penalty that I’m still waiting to see on replay). If he continues to play like this, the team will have better days ahead.
Winner: Leger Douzable
The player most assumed would be let go to make room for Marcel Dareus when he returns had himself a fantastic game in a reserve role. He wreaked havoc on the offensive backfield all day, racking up 1.5 sacks and 2 tackles. He showed solid leverage and burst, along with surprising push and strength in his outing. Douzable looked the part of a solid rotational player this afternoon and made a great case for sticking around in October.
Winner: LBs named Brown
Both Preston and Zach settled into their roles comfortably. The defense seemed to be on the same page, and they were really only caught off guard in terms of matchups one time (and Joe Flacco exploited it for a disastrous result). Preston flowed downhill and played well in the box, and he also performed admirably in coverage. Zach looked like the player Buffalo thought they signed—he was solid in coverage, made sure tackles, and played good, assignment-sound football. Each player amassed 8 tackles, with Preston recovering a gift Flacco fumble for the game’s only turnover.
Loser: Greg Roman
So much for that creativity I was expecting this morning. Roman’s offense looked bland, hesitant, and predictable for much of the afternoon. While he called a near 50-50 split in terms of run-pass plays, it seemed that the team didn’t run enough on run downs. This may have been by design, and was probably intended to catch Baltimore off guard, but Tyrod Taylor’s inability to pick up yardage through the air in early downs led to too many long-yardage situations on second and third down. The team really seemed to miss Karlos Williams, as Reggie Bush ran for more side-to-side yards than actual yards, and Mike Gillislee barely made a dent in LeSean McCoy’s playing time. Sammy Watkins was only targeted 6 times in Tyrod Taylor’s 22 pass attempts, which is an unacceptably low number.
Loser: Tyrod Taylor
Taylor lost in more ways than one on Sunday. He fell flat on his face in his first attempt to show his old team that they were wrong not to retain him, averaging a Trent-Edwardsian 5 yards per attempt, and firing balls high, wide, and everywhere else all throughout the day. To be fair, the offensive line looked porous all day, and matters worsened when Cordy Glenn left with an ankle injury. I thought that Cyrus Kouandjio was adequate, but Taylor never looked comfortable in his drops. He took no shots deep, which might have been by design...but I can’t imagine that the team would have stayed that far away from its strengths.
Loser: the offensive line
I alluded to it above, but part of the reason the offense was stuck in the mud all day was the inability to generate solid, consistent space for the skill players in the backfield to operate. Yes, Reggie Bush danced too much, and sure, Tyrod could have thrown the ball more accurately, but if the line performs as it’s supposed to perform, it helps everyone else to do his own job. The Ravens dominated at the point of attack, and that was the biggest reason why they dominated the game.