The Bills looked bad in their preseason debut, really bad. But, is this surprising at all?
The Bills enter this season with a new head coach, a new defensive scheme, a huge question mark at quarterback and a questionable offensive line. A 42-17 loss in the preseason opener is almost to be expected. Giving up 42 points probably isn’t what you want to see though.
In terms of bright spots, there weren’t many. Undrafted free agent David Nelson made some plays with the second and third team and Chad Simpson and Joique Bell each showed explosiveness in the running game. Aside from that, there wasn’t much else to take away from this one. The offense was bad, the defense was bad and the special teams were average.
Trent Edwards manufactured a decent first drive that was stopped by a holding penalty but after that initial possession, the starting offense looked the same as last year. I can give them some leeway considering Eric Wood, Demetrius Bell and Cornell Green all sat out rather than risk further injury. But, honestly, how much help do Bell and Green offer? Edwards could be under just as much pressure with those two “starters” in as he was with Kirk Chambers and Jamon Meredith bookending the line.
The run game looked strong, I think that is going to be the one bright spot this season. C.J. Spiller is too fast for his own good, Fred Jackson looked up to snuff (before going down with an injury) and Marshawn Lynch still ran hard. The Jackson injury opens the door for Bell or Simpson to steal a roster spot. I stand by my assessment of Lynch, he may be a handful off the field but he is a damn fine football player. Our run game should be just fine this year.
Our second and third-team offense wasn’t much better. But, I don’t really care too much about their performance. I watch for individuals when those guys are in. I was interested to see how Levi Brown would fare (okay) and if any of our reserve receivers and backs had some game – Nelson, Naaman Roosevelt and the two backs look to possess some skill.
I think next week will offer a better idea of what the offense has to offer, even without Jackson for the foreseeable future.
What scares me is our defense. It doesn’t look like we have the players for the 3-4 look. Aaron Maybin is absolutely, 100% useless. I hated that we drafted him last year and he continues to show that he is not an NFL talent. He is far too small and benefited from playing in the nation’s most overrated conference, the Big Ten. Antonio Coleman was a bright spot, the UFA showed that he translates well to the 3-4, of course, he didn’t improve the pass rush either. Chris Ellis is just as useless as Maybin is and Arthur Moats was abyssmal playing in the middle.
Once again, with a few more healthy starters in next week we may see an improved showing. But, our backups don’t impress me. For a team that has been bitten bad by the injury bug the last three years, that is not an exciting prospect.
All-in-all, I think the Bills have a serious uphill climb ahead of them going into the regular season. Their offense looks below average and the defense is kind of a question mark. I will emphasize that it was just one preseason game. The starters weren’t in for the duration and it didn’t look like everyone (particularly Lee Evans) was going 100%.
After preseason game number three I think you will have a good grasp on what the season has in store for the Bills. It certainly isn’t time to say the sky is falling, although I think that time may be close on the horizon.