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Five takeaways from the Buffalo Bills vs. Carolina Panthers preseason game

We have the opinions.

The Buffalo Bills’ game against the Carolina Panthers still isn’t over, but we have opinions. It’s the preseason, after all, and we don’t need to watch the whole game for this exercise.

Josh Allen looks decisive and comfortable

Josh Allen had two drives for the Buffalo Bills on Friday night against the Carolina Panthers and on both drives, the offense put points on the board. First, a 28-yard pass to Tommy Sweeney and a couple nice throws to Cole Beasley moved Buffalo into field--goal range. Some o-line breakdowns forced a field goal.

On the ensuing drive, he was deadly accurate and found Sweeney and Beasley again for nice gains. This time, LeSean McCoy found the end zone after two runs inside the five.

What was more noteworthy than anything else was Allen’s accuracy (9/11 including a throwaway under duress) and his decisiveness. His first two passes weren’t great, but after that he was on the money including touch passes and bullets. It was great to see.

Cole Beasley is a linchpin player

One of the reasons Allen’s completion percentage was good this week was his reliance on Beasley to find an open spot. It seems like their chemistry is really starting to fire on all cylinders. Allen found Beasley twice in Week 1 (only one of them counted) and this week he caught all five targets for 44 yards.

According to Bills reporter Nathaniel Medelson, four of those passes came in 00 personnel—meaning no tight ends and no running backs—and Beasley was matched up against a linebacker.

Here’s a taste:

Sixth WR is the most interesting roster battle

We thought the offensive line was going to be interesting, but injuries have shuffled those battles around. Maybe the tight ends would be cool to watch, but Tyler Kroft and Dawson Knox have been hurt. The RB room has stayed chalk. Even Levi Wallace has held off battles for the CB2 job. What has been the most interesting roster battle so far? I’m throwing sixth WR into the ring. Seriously.

Ray-Ray McCloud III, the former Bills draft pick, played great in training camp and seemed to be running ahead of everyone. Then Isaiah McKenzie flashed against the Indianapolis Colts and had a great 40-plus-yard gain on a screen pass against the Panthers—and you can add in some punt returns the last two weeks. Topping it off, Duke Williams used all of his massive size and weight advantage to grab a TD before the half and was a main target of Matt Barkley. We didn’t even mention Cam Phillips, who was playing as that sixth receiver earlier this month but fell behind on the depth chart tonight.

The battle for the sixth WR spot is legit and is going to be very compelling in the fourth preseason game, for sure.

I want the defense challenged

The defense has looked great you guys. Let’s check that box and move on.

*Taps earpiece*

It’s come to my attention that the quarterbacks the Bills defense has faced are Kyle Allen (4-for-11) and Jacoby Brissett (2-for-5).

I am very much looking forward to Matthew Stafford and the full complement of the Detroit Lions offense in Week 3 of the preseason. The Bills’ defense saw Cam Newton in practice this week, at least, but it will be good to see an NFL-caliber quarterback try and take apart Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier’s baby next week.

Tyree Jackson is lost

There was a cutaway of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll absolutely lighting up Jackson on the sideline after an interception down the field into the end zone. A few plays later he overthrew Keith Towbridge and then came back with a near-pick-six. His best play was a five-yard pass to Christian Wade who turned into a video game and nearly took it the distance 40 yards later. A few plays after that, Jackson badly missed a fade throw in the end zone. At this point, is Jackson even a practice-squad candidate?

Quick hits

  • Christian Wade is so good with the ball in his hand, but he’s still a practice--squad running back and not a 53-man guy.
  • T.J. Yeldon looked better tonight.
  • Senorise Perry’s fumble should have no bearing on his final roster spot. He wasn’t on the roster for the RB ability.
  • Stephen Hauschka may be a concern...
  • Buffalo might have to keep five defensive ends with the way Mike Love and Darryl Johnson are playing. Eddie Yarbrough was playing well into the fourth quarter.
  • The Bills are going to be cutting legitimate NFL talent at linebacker.