It has been a hellacious 48 hours at One Bills Drive. After a definitive drubbing at the hands of Washington on Saturday, the Bills scrambled to reinforce their quarterback depth before losing their top cornerback for what could be eight weeks.
Stephon Gilmore is expected to miss at least 5-6 weeks and upwards of eight after it was reported that he suffered a wrist fracture on Saturday evening and is expected to be on the shelf for some time. Given that Buffalo only trimmed their roster to 76 on Monday, it could possibly leave the door open for Gilmore to be tabbed with the IR-designated to return status to start the year.
Of course, Kevin Kolb could also get that treatment and Chris Hairston may end up on the PUP. So that extra body could be found in a number of places.
Gilmore’s injury is the most glaring highlight (or lowlight) in a week’s worth of injury news that started with EJ Manuel’s knee procedure. It also happens that Gilmore’s absence has the potential to have the greatest effect on the roster moving forward.
Buffalo’s secondary was thin enough upon Jairus Byrd’s return and losing their top cover corner is a major loss. A safe assumption is that the Bills will bring in a free agent to fill the void; but even that may not be a safe bet. Given the typical operating procedure from the front office, I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to move on with the players they have.
Gilmore’s replacement may not be determined until they make a choice on Gilmore himself. Once his roster spot is determined will likely open the door for the Bills to go through in terms of replacing him. That is not yet the case for Kevin Kolb.
Give credit where it’s due to Doug Whaley for acting quickly to get Matt Leinart and Thaddeus Lewis under the fold yesterday. The trade for Lewis was particularly adept considering the likelihood that Chris White and Lewis were unlikely to make their respective rosters. The swap of the two gives the Bills a safety valve quarterback who could be destined for the practice squad and will fill a valuable hole while Manuel recovers.
It would appear that Kolb’s situation is a bit more ominous. With some saying his career could be in jeopardy due to his concussion history, Leinart appears to be a much more long-term replacement as Buffalo’s backup quarterback. Obviously the Bills can axe Leinart if Kolb shows signs of a quick recovery, but for the Bills to move on a pair of signal callers seems to indicate that Kolb may be out for a while.
All of this occurred on the heels of an ugly preseason loss and with time ticking away towards the regular season.
Aside from getting injured, the Bills weren’t successful at much of anything on Saturday. Kolb manufactured one scoring drive prior to his early departure but the offense sputtered the rest of the way. Defensively things didn’t go much better as Rex Grossman looked like the Florida star as opposed to the NFL journeyman throwing against the Bills.
Being that Saturday was the “dress rehearsal” preseason game, the results were concerning for many who are hoping for a turnaround this season for the Bills. However, the run defense was porous and the Redskins gashed the Bills in the passing game.
Like with any other preseason game, the only portion that really holds water for me is when the starters are playing heads up. When it comes time for the reserves to play, the score matters not. For the Bills, their starters had a rough go.
The run defense in 2012 was weak and Saturday didn’t offer much hope for an improvement. The unit had shown strides in the first two preseason contests before getting gashed by Washington. Since I don’t think many are expecting the Bills to be Super Bowl contenders, I’d say it is expected that the defense will have a few outings where they’re absolutely torched. Conversely, there are going to be games in which they look like the ’85 Bears. Ok, maybe not the ’85 Bears, but they will have ebbs and flows through the entire year, especially as they transition to the new scheme.
I entered this season with the understanding that there would be continued growing pains in the secondary and that the pass defense would suffer as a result. Even though Kiko Alonso looks like the real deal, I realize that the linebacking corps may need to be shored up a bit more before it is a stout unit. Long story short, the defense is making strides but they’re going to stumble. They stumbled hard on Saturday and looked awful as a result.
Thursday likely won’t yield much as the suddenly battered Bills will likely attempt to preserve their health as much as they possibly can to close out the preseason.
There are definitely some holes that need to be patched prior to the home opener which could be a real issue against the Patriots. Thursday’s performance made that painfully clear. But I don’t think that the unit, as a whole, is as far off as some may think after that outing.