Sunday morning I picked the Buffalo Bills to lose in Carolina by “at least two scores”, concluding fans, the media and maybe the organization itself were a bit too high on themselves after beating the hapless New York Jets in their opener and also because legions of fans accompanied them to Charlotte this weekend.
The Bills could’ve and should’ve pulled out a victory in Carolina—one I’m sure no one on earth wanted more than head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane. It didn’t quite happen despite a dominant defensive performance, as the offense was an atrocity in a 9-3 loss.
Load up the cannon—it’s time for a little Hot Taekery…
♦ I won’t waste internet space discussing the last Bills offensive play. Tyrod Taylor should’ve made a better throw and regardless, Zay Jones should’ve made the catch. Let’s end that debate by pointing the finger at both. The game should’ve never came down to one non-executed throw and catch.
♦ I don’t bitch at officials often but the offensive pass interference on Andre Holmes inside the final minute was an absolute joke. The Bills should’ve had a first at the Carolina 22 with 53 seconds left and two timeouts. It was a costly officiating gaffe that negatively changed Buffalo’s mindset.
♦ Yes, McDermott mangled Clock Management 101 in the final minute by trying to conserve a timeout and blowing literally 20 seconds in the process. It’s a rookie mistake I hope he learns from and a benefit of the doubt I’m willing to give for a guy in his second career game as head coach. Despite the gaffe I’m far more on board with McDermott now than at any point since his arrival; including last week’s win. He showed us his defense is very much for real, and I loved his passionate demeanor on the sideline. I feel like the players, at least those getting paid to stop the other team from scoring were feeding off his energy.
♦ Sticking with the coach, I loved his decision to go for it on fourth-and-one from the Carolina 44 early in the fourth quarter. That’s historically a punt, especially in Buffalo. Hopefully McDermott brings offensive coordinator Rick Dennison to his office Monday and paddles his ass repeatedly with a sturdy piece of wood—because calling a rollout pass for Patrick DiMarco on third down and an outside pitch to Lesean McCoy on fourth was intolerable. Didn’t Buffalo sign Mike Tolbert, DiMarco and every fullback in North America for these situations?
♦ How is Jordan Mills still the starting right tackle? Did this new regime forget to watch his 2016 game film? Hell, fans chugging beers and launching themselves through tables know Mills is awful. Dion Dawkins is out there mostly for a non-healthy Cordy Glenn, but there must be someone on the waiver wire more capable of not being a turnstile.
♦ Through little if any fault of his own, Lesean McCoy couldn’t get a thing going. The offensive line couldn’t block a soul in looking like they were trying to ward off the ’85 Bears. Shady managed nine yards (!!) on 15 carries. In total Buffalo got 14 rushing yards from their running backs—their lowest in over a decade. That’s wretched.
♦ Something tells me Richie Incognito won’t be the highest graded guard on PFF again this week.
♦ I’ve went as long as I can without discussing Tyrod. I’ve been semi-easy on him during his Bills tenure and I’m not that guy always craving for the backup who’s usually not the starter for a good reason, but I’ve about had enough of Taylor under center. Ugh, I’ve finally arrived at that point. Taylor’s had 31 starts with Buffalo and he’s no better or worse than he was 31 starts ago. He escapes pressure and turns a sack into a gain like few quarterbacks I’ve ever seen, but at the end of the day he’s fuckin’ Trent Edwards with more athletic legs. That’s who he is and who he’s going to be. There was a point Sunday I found myself screaming at the television for him to throw the ball downfield even if he got intercepted. He’s like a boxer unwilling to throw anything but jabs. I know the ineptness of this offense isn’t all his fault. I admit Taylor hasn’t gotten a fair shake in Buffalo. The front office wavered on bringing him back and that’s surely weighed on his mind. They lost Robert Woods, dealt Watkins and watched Anquan Boldin bail on them. It seems like no one is ever open beyond five yards. When Andre Holmes is arguably your most viable threat you’re badly lacking weapons. It still doesn’t change the fact Taylor isn’t a winning NFL quarterback in my view with no end in sight. He’s just good enough to make you wake up Monday mornings thinking the latest Bills loss wasn’t primarily his fault. If you want to win 7-9 games for the rest of eternity, Tyrod’s your guy.
“He escapes pressure and turns a sack into a gain like few quarterbacks I’ve ever seen, but at the end of the day he’s fuckin’ Trent Edwards with more athletic legs”
♦ At the same token, I think a significant reason Nathan Peterman won’t be starting next week or anytime soon is that the offensive line may get him killed. Taylor was sacked three times and probably should’ve been 33 more times. Peterman’s body may have permanently been embedded into the Carolina turf had he been out there. Oh, and if you think the Panthers front seven was terrorizing—just wait until Denver rolls in next Sunday. It’s not the time to make the switch—not yet.
♦ How pathetic were the Bills offensively? If you take away their final drive where they converted three first downs, Buffalo only had one fewer sack (six) than first downs over the first 58 minutes.
CONVERSELY (yes, there’s good news too)…..
♦ The Bills have been marvelous defensively through two games. They allowed just 255 total yards to Carolina after surrendering 214 to the Jets last week. It’s only the fourth time in franchise history they’ve allowed 255 total yards or less in each of their first two games and first since 2008.
♦ Jerry Hughes dominated Matt Kalil, and I mean dominated. Hughes had two sacks and six pressures. He would’ve had three sacks if he didn’t alligator Cam Newton late in the first half. He’s back to looking like the Jerry Hughe$$$ we remember when Jim Schwartz was the defensive coordinator.
♦ Had to be encouraged by the play of Shaq Lawson, who had his first truly great NFL game. Shaq had a sack, a key goal line stop and was a menace to Newton all day. If he holds up his end and he certainly did Sunday the Bills could have a terrorizing defensive end tandem.
♦ Lorenzo Alexander and Eddie Yarbrough were big factors as well.
♦ Congratulations on making yourself look formidable again (at times) Sunday, Marcell Dareus. He was limited to 17 snaps but I think that’s because of a sore ankle and not a coaches decision (unlike last last week).
♦ Lastly, what else is there to say about the play of Jordan Poyer through Buffalo’s first two games? He was the best defensive player on the field in the opener and equally superb in Carolina. Poyer had a sack for a second straight week, saved a touchdown with a last second pass breakup—and nearly decapitated Kelvin Benjamin’s ribs. I said it last week and will say it again—I didn’t think much of the Bills signing Poyer this offseason. He’s proving me and any other critic wrong in a big way early on.
Summary: The good news is the defense proved capable of dominating a game beyond facing the sorry-ass New York Jets. I put zero stock into the Jets performance because they’re the Jets. Carolina is not a great offense but they’re the 1999 Rams compared to New York, yet McDermott’s unit had their way with them. It provides hope that sound defensive play may be a season-long recurring theme. Unfortunately the offense wasn’t up to the task, which had they been merely mediocre the Bills would be flying back to Buffalo owners of a 2-0 record. It’s scary to think how bad the offense looked against Carolina, especially with Denver up next. If you’ve already grown impatient waiting to see Peterman you may get your wish next week if Von Miller finds himself lined up one on one with Mills.
I’m sympathetic to the Bills fan not sleeping well after losing a game they really (really) should’ve won. I get it—it sucks.
However, I’m extremely confident when the season’s over you’ll look back at this game as an outcome that may greatly help the Bills with 2018 draft position. Sorry, I know fans don’t want to hear that shit in Week two when they’re a better Taylor pass/Jones catch away from being undefeated, but it’s the reality.