The first team carried their weight, especially on defense. Looking at the first half of football last night, the Bills defense was effective, the special teams were solid and they moved the football offensively.
However, the backups were less than stellar. Luckily, the backups aren’t going to be playing all at once this season.
The Bills managed field position for the entire first half thanks to stout defense and a number of phenomenal punts from Brian Moorman. While Ryan Fitzpatrick and the offense struggled to consistently move the ball, they did their part in controlling the clock and field. Of course, they only came up with seven points. A score matched by the Steelers’ 90-plus yard drive to close the first half.
However, Vince Young tossed a pair of interceptions, the Steelers second team offense cruised (sound familiar?) and they ran up 31 unanswered points in the second half. Young’s regression last night was unfortunate due to the previous progress that he built on over the first two weeks of the preseason.
There were standouts for good and bad over the course of the game. Terrence McGee looked like an aging veteran who just returned from knee surgery. Andy Levitre could be Buffalo’s most consistent and effective lineman and the tandem of Marcell Dareus and Kyle Willaims should wreak havoc on opponents this season. Depth still seems to be an issue for the Bills, however. With a number of rookie and first year players being counted on for primary roles on both sides of the ball, there will be plenty of growing pains this year.
The main issue that many fans had with last night was the third-straight loss and continued offensive struggles that the Bills have shown on offense. While the second-team contributions need to be ignored, the lack of a consistent attack with the starters could begin to be an issue as the season is set to begin.
Is Fitz still magic?
Ryan Fitzpatrick has yet to revert to the form that helped carry the Bills to that hot start last season. He has shown flashes of it, but he has also thrown sloppy passes that you might come to expect from a late-round draft pick. Preseason doesn’t warrant as much worry as some have had for this 0-3 start. But there should be some cause for concern. Unfortunately you really won’t know the true result until September 9.
Reaping the benefits
Mario Williams, Mark Anderson and anyone else rushing the passer should have plenty of one-on-one time this season. I have a strong feeling that there is going to be plenty of double team assignments put on Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams. The pair are borderline dominant and are going to be capable of pushing plenty of pockets this year. Even if the ends are getting doubled, the tackles will be capable of going against single blockers.
One thing that hasn’t changed this summer is Fred Jackson’s skill level. He is running strong and looks to be at the same level he was last season. Jackson was Buffalo’s best player last season and could be poised to repeat the feat this season.
Waiting on the line
I have a distinct feeling that the Bills are still a ways off regarding the offensive line. Without a healthy version of Erik Pears and Eric Wood, the Bills still haven’t sent out the best possible product this preseason. How much difference will that pair make once they’re back? I couldn’t tell you. However, I think that those two could have a positive effect on the Bills offense.