The Buffalo Bills beat the Cleveland Browns on Friday night, and for as much intrigue as there was heading into the game, there might be more heading out of it. The quarterback competition was thrown for a loop, the Bills suffered some legitimate injuries that should worry fans, and the offensive line might be to blame.
Here are my five takeaways:
How are you going to keep Josh Allen from starting?
The Bills rookie seems destined to start the third preseason game next weekend. On Friday night against Cleveland, Allen demonstrated poise leading three scoring drives and going 9/13 for 60 yards. One of those incompletions was a spike to kill the clock.
Allen threw a touchdown pass on a pretty play, where he avoided the pass rush and kept his eyes down the field to find his receiver running free on a crossing route in the end zone. It brought a tear to my eye.
AJ McCarron breaks his collarbone
Further complicating the Bills’ quarterback competition, Friday’s starter was sidelined with injury. It happened as he was supposed to be replaced anyway, so no one knew until the second half, but McCarron broke his collarbone on a hit by Myles Garrett.
The veteran QB was hounded by the Browns pass rush all night, ad the offensive line was putrid in front of him and the slower-developing passes he hit a week ago didn’t have a chance to materialize. He’ll be out a minimum of eight weeks.
Legit concerns on the first-team offensive line
It’s time to pick the starting center and go with it. Early in the first quarter, a miscommunication between center Russell Bodine and left guard Vlad Ducasse left a free pass rush to sack the quarterback.
LeSean McCoy and the rest of the running backs was met in the backfield routinely and the Bills just couldn’t get a rhythm going on the first-team offense. Ducasse also drew a holding call later.
From the depths rise challenges
Thought to be dead and put out to pasture, tight end Nick O’Leary and receiver Austin Proehl each made plays with the third team, including an O’Leary touchdown catch on a blown coverage. Both has slid down the depth charts but strong showings Friday mean it’s not over.
Injuries a concern for the first time
The Bills had been relatively healthy this offseason, losing only defensive tackle John Hughes to injury. Against the Browns, defensive tackle Kyle Williams left with a knee injury, then McCarron, then backup punter Cory Carter and tight end Jason Croom both exited. With the team dealing with an injury to defensive end Trent Murphy and receiver Brandon Reilly and Cam Phillips, the injury list is getting longer by the day.