Washington rout the start of an ugly 48-hour period for the Bills

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. Continue reading

Bills backups roll up points, yards against Colts backups

If there’s one rule of thumb that football fans need to follow it is to not read too deeply into the results on the scoreboard from preseason games.

While the third game is typically considered the final tune up for a team’s starters, the Bills entered their 2013 slate with the opportunity to see a handful of potential starters in extended auditions during their 44-20 win over Indianapolis.

E.J. Manuel was the greatest beneficiary of the extra playing time as he ran Buffalo’s offense for the entire first half while Kevin Kolb served as the emergency quarterback due to missing time last week with a knee injury and family issue. I wouldn’t necessarily say that Manuel made the most of his opportunity, but the extra playing time certainly won’t hurt his progression.

The shining moment of his day came on a surgically precise two-minute drill to give the Bills the halftime lead. The 92-yard drive likely served as a nice confidence boost for Manuel as the 92-yard trek was really the first evidence of the swagger that was on display during his most impressive games at Florida State.

Assuming he has the upper hand in the quarterback competition, I’d say that Manuel didn’t do anything to hurt his status on the depth chart. He took care of the football and even showed how dangerous he can be outside of the pocket on a pair of runs. His touchdown pass to Dorin Dickerson was perfectly thrown and served as a perfect cap to his preseason debut.

Manuel was somewhat limited to start the day, as the Bills featured a run-heavy look to start their possessions. In addition to the majority of run calls, Manuel was a little cold off the bat when putting the ball in the air. It wasn’t until his final couple of series when he started to heat up. He had his fair share of flaws; double clutching a few throws and getting a little too cute with others. Perhaps it was a case of nerves more than anything else and Friday’s matchup against Minnesota will serve as the link in the chain for Manuel. Continue reading

Taking a stab at the Bills 53-man roster

With the Bills set to significantly trim their roster tomorrow, I thought I would take my first run at the 53-man roster. I have a few positions that I had struggled with, but managed to come to a final conclusion. This week’s preseason game and practice reports pointed towards a few of the decisions I went with, although there is always a chance for a surprise veteran to get the gas at this time of the year.

For the first time in a few years, the Bills entered preseason with a roster that was a little more stable that in recent seasons. There were fewer position battles, especially for starting jobs and there was far less attention paid to the contributions of late picks and undrafted free agents. I had a fairly strong sense of what the roster would eventually look like heading into this first round of cuts. Hopefully my picks don’t turn out to be totally foolish. (* indicates rookies) Continue reading

Deskchair Quarterback: Backups fall short against Steelers

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.

Mario Williams picked up his first two sacks of the preseason against Pittsburgh.

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. Continue reading

Arguing over fake football

This originally ran on Buffalo Wins. Thanks again to Joe for having me contribute.

There are a number of important events that fall between the Super Bowl and the opening week of the next NFL season. For the record, the Pro Bowl is not one of them.

The Draft, free agency, training camp and the day that final cuts are determined are all important dates that are worth paying attention to. There also happens to be these four pesky exhibition games that are blown totally out of proportion by a number of fans and anyone getting a paycheck from a certain production company in Bristol.

The NFL preseason is becoming an annual chore that is more about keeping starters healthy than shaping the roster. However, each year your team lays an egg and suddenly 3-13 is on the table. Truthfully, there is far too much attention paid to the outcome and overall performance during preseason, by everyone.

Just look at that steaming pile of a morning show that Skip Bayless works on. When they’re not extolling Tim Tebow as football’s savior, they’re drumming up any bit of crap they can get their hands on. Most recently Kirk Cousins big night against Chicago’s backups became fodder for a “quarterback controversy” in Washington because RGIII didn’t rack up big numbers behind his patchwork line and against Chicago’s ones. Keeping things closer to home, Buffalo has had two dismal showings in their pair of preseason outings thus far. However, this is due to the participation of over 30 players who will not be on the team come September 9. Now, the starters haven’t been lighting things up, but about 60% of the Bills play thus far has come with a group of players who will not be playing as a unit in three more weeks. Continue reading

Deskchair Quarterback: Bills preseason debut

Ryan Fitzpatrick is not Jim Kelly, that much was assumed a long time ago. However, any doubters were likely converted while watching Fitzpatrick direct the Bills first-team offense last night against Washington.

Fitzpatrick trotted out with a number of open and spread looks in the brief time he and the starters saw last night. It was indicated that he was the one calling the plays while reading what the defense was giving him. The result was zero running plays and three points.

There were flashes of brilliance from the starters and there is the obvious fact that the gameplan last night doesn’t even represent a quarter of what the Bills will present in the regular season. So anyone who has proclaimed the sky is falling regarding the offense, team and season; take a step back.

To put things in perspective, Shawne Merriman looked like an All-Pro last year and the offensive line was leakier than the Titanic. As it turned out, Merriman was ineffective before missing most of the year and the offensive line proved to be rather stout for much of the 2011 season. The bottom line is that the preseason is all about evaluation and not about team performance. Or at least that is mostly what it is about. Continue reading

Bills trim three from roster – prepare for final preseason game

After a convincing 35-20 win over Cincinnati last Saturday, the Bills head into their final tune-up before the 2010 regular season debut.

Lonnie Harvey (#72) was among the first three players cut by the Bills.

The Bills defense and special teams were still shady but the offense looked impressive in toasting the Bengals for 28 points (Reggie Corner scored the final TD on an interception). Continue reading