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Despite the lop-sided score, I am feeling much more confident this week than last week. And truthfully, I wasn’t that worried last week. The Bills continue to improve over last week, and I keep telling myself that the Super Bowl teams for the Bills would go 0-4 or 1-5 for their pre-season… so maybe there’s good reason for hope for the ‘06-’07 season…
Well, let’s take a look at the good and the bad from Friday night at The Ralph.
The first unit defense has only allowed two touchdowns in two games. I do not remember if the first team was in at the very end of the first half or not, but even then, there were two amazing goal line stands where they only gave up two FGs when they could have given up much more. There were several three-and-outs by the Bengals, and overall, the unit was amazing. Only way to improve was to get some more take aways to even out the generosity of the Bills’ offense.
The D-line got some fantastic pressure on the Bengals QBs, and the LBs and DBs were offering good support… swarming to the ball for the tackle. Overall, just fantastic job by the defense.
- Special Teams
Special teams were fantastic, as usual. Lindell with a 51-yarder. Moorman and Co. pinning the Bengals down at their own 1 yard line on a punt. And we don’t even get to see McGee returning kicks these days!
- “Chunk Yardage”
Jauron was talking after last week’s loss in Carolina about the necessity of what he called “chunk yardage”. If you’re going to win in this league, he said, you need to get chunk yardage. Knowing that, most expected the Bills to push the ball downfield in the game against Cincinnati, and they did not dissapoint. Lee Evans had a fantastic game, with 115 yards on 3 receptions. Willis had a 61-yard TD run. The Bills definitely were doing some great “chunking”.
As mentioned above, McGahee added to the chunk yardage, but it was more than just one play. Even on the play where he eventually fumbled the ball, Willis looked like he was running harder, stronger, faster. He was making good cuts, good reads. And I think the play calling helped. He wasn’t just banging it up the middle. He was running outside the tackles, and had more room to pick his holes. McGahee had a great game, and I’m hoping for lots more of that this year. One report says Willis looks the best he has since his knee injury in college. That’s very promising.
You can not win a football game by turning the ball over four times. You just can’t. In both pre-season games so far the Bills have had 21 points scored directly off of turnovers. That doesn’t work. The Bengals scored 20 points total off of Bills turnovers in this week’s game. The Bills made some fantastic plays on offense Friday night, but you can’t recover from that many turnovers. That must change.
Like turnovers, if you commit too many dumb penalties you are also not going to win. Dumb penalties will kill you. There were many, mostly by the defense, but one of the more costly ones happened in the third quarter. The Bengals were driving, and had a 1st and goal situation. Bills held to 3rd-and-goal, and then on 3rd down, they stopped the play, forcing a field goal – except for the flagrant defensive holding by LB James Bethea. First down and goal Bengals… easy touchdown followed that call. Dumb penalties and turnovers will negate any good stuff you can do on the field. Those must stop as well.
- Josh Reed
What has this guy done to keep his roster spot? He drops two, three, or even five passes a game. Why does he continue to make the final Bills roster?
- Defensive backfield
Despite all the praise I have for the Bills D, I am slightly concerned about the defensive backs. Carolina had their way with us on the very first drive, and that was without their top receiver, Steve Smith. Chad Johnson and the Bengals’ QBs had some pretty good success finding holes in our defense. It could just be the youth we have at that spot. Lots of rookies and other young players there. They are also making their share of good plays, but there’s been a lot of guys out of place as well. This is definitely an area that needs to be watched.
It’s possible that good play by the defensive line will aid the DBs in their coverage as well. So, this might be a moot point if the DL can play as solidly as they have been (and better) as the year progresses.
Overall, the thing to keep in mind is that the Bills would have scored enough points to win had they just not given up the 14 points directly off of turnovers. If we can keep a handle on the ball, and perhaps get more turnovers of our own on defense, there is great reason for optimism in Buffalo this year.
I think it’s good that JP had a solid game (despite the turnovers). I hope they officially name him the starter this week. Putting that behind the team will certainly help not only the QBs to relax and just play football, but it should allow the offense to gel a bit more and come together as a unit.
The regime change has certainly benefitted this team as well. The players are loose. They are much more of a team. There are no individuals – even with a three-way QB battle. That’s incredible. If nothing else, Jauron has done a fantastic job just with the way the team is playing together. I am sure Marv has had a part in that as well.
I am really getting excited for September 10th. I do believe that we will have an exciting team this year. Whether that translates to wins, and/or the playoffs certainly remains to be seen. But there should definitely be some excitement with this bunch of players.