Trying something new this season for our postgame content. Each week along with our game story I’ll post my 5 Yays and 5 Nays from the Bills performance. Definitely tough to find 5 Yays today but I managed.
Check them out for Week 1:
1) The defense
We start with the positives and the Bills defense topped the list of yays today. They surrendered 308 total yards, but, as always, the most important stat is the scoreboard and they held Baltimore to a mere 13 points. Holding opponents to 13 points will always give your team a chance to win. The one mistake they made, which Rex Ryan put on himself, was doubling a different receiver on Mike Wallace’s 66-yard TD reception where he left S Duke Williams in the dust. They were able to overcome potentially costly penalties – which we’ll get to – by getting stops afterward. And they also shut the door in crucial moments of the game to give the offense a chance. Unfortunately they couldn’t return the favor, but Bills fans can walk away encouraged by the defensive effort they saw today.
2) The lone scoring drive
Offensively there wasn’t much to boast about. However, on the Bills lone scoring drive we were treated to a glimpse of how special this group can be. The Bills mixed the run and the pass well. LeSean McCoy was at his best, breaking off a 16-yard run on the series first play. Taylor made the play of the day, using his athleticism to turn a sure sack into a 33-yard pickup on a pass down the field to Charles Clay. The trio if Clay, Watkins and Woods all made receptions on the drive. Ryan was aggressive, going for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal and getting it. Everything you’d hope to see from the offense was there on that drive. Unfortunately, it couldn’t be sustained.
3) Ryan taking some gambles
It was refreshing to see Ryan be aggressive and go for that aforementioned touchdown on fourth-and-goal as well as rolling the dice on a fourth-and-one on the Bills opening drive of the third quarter, which ended with a missed field goal. It’s easy to like of those decisions when they work, but even if Buffalo had failed to convert one or both, Ryan recognized his offense needed a spark in both situations and went for it. Can’t argue with that.
4) The pass rush
You all know the story, Buffalo led the league in sacks in 2013 and 2014, then regressed badly last year accumulating a mere 21 of them. Against Baltimore on Sunday they blitzed and rushed there way to four of them for 33 yards. Generating a consistent pass rush this season will be crucial if the defense wants to have sustained success in 2016. They’re off to a good start with four this week.
5) Colton Schmidt
Can you tell I was reaching for a fifth yay? In all seriousness though Schmidt is as steady as they come. He pinned the Ravens back inside the 20 on several occasions, flipping the field, which obviously helped the defense immensely because they were then protecting a long field. If there’s one area you never have to worry about with the Bills it’s punting.
1) The pathetic offensive performance
The theme of the day. The offense was embarrassingly bad. They couldn’t run. They couldn’t pass. Taylor looked timid and took zero shots down the field. It was a pitiful performance all around as the offense netted only 160 yards of total offense. Backup running back Reggie Bush finished in the negative with -4 yards. The unit that led the league in rushing last year posted just 65 yards today. Through the air they accumulated 111 yards. And of course they only had the one scoring drive, in what was a very winnable game. For all the hype surrounding this group throughout camp and the preseason, they flopped badly in their 2016 debut. Lot of room for improvement here and they only have three days to fix it before Week 2.
2) Offensive line
Piggybacking off of the first one, all the issues the offense had start with the O-line. Ryan eluded to the “protection” when talking about why Buffalo didn’t take any shots deep down the field. He’s absolutely right. Taylor needs more time and the running backs need bigger holes if this offense wants to have any success. On Sunday Baltimore won in the trenches and simply overwhelmed the Bills offensive line with their pass rush. Again, not a lot of time to fix the problem with the Jets coming to town on Thursday, but somehow they have to get it together.
Things started out promising, as they had just one flag thrown against them in the first quarter. It was only a matter of time though that the Bills resorted back to their usual, undisciplined ways. The rest of the way they accumulated seven more accepted penalties including a roughing the passer flag on Mr. Penalty himself, Jerry Hughes, for a grand total of eight on the day. They’ve had worse outings no doubt, but in a game so tight like today’s was one or two flags can alter the outcome entirely. Rex Ryan will continue to have his work cut out for him trying to resolve this issue.
4) Tyrod Taylor
Taylor was generally efficient, completing 15 of his 22 passes and doing a nice job protecting the football, but he looked extremely timid at times. His one promising play was the 33-yard completion to Charles Clay, where he showcased his duel threat ability and extended the play and the drive in a big way. That flash of mesmerizing play-making ability is why Buffalo committed to him with a contract extension during training camp. But his mostly forgettable day proves the second-year starter remains a work in progress.
5) The injuries
Buffalo just can’t seem to get through a game without losing a player or multiple players to injury. Today, left tackle Cordy Glenn aggravated the left ankle he sprained during training camp, tight end Jim Dray left the game with an ankle injury as well and defensive tackle Jerel Worthy suffered a knee injury that could be significant. Let’s hope this injury hex doesn’t linger for another season.
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