It was clear from the get-go what the Bills wanted to glean from this game. They went 12 personnel and other similarly heavy sets almost exclusively in the first half and tried to run the ball down the throats of the Detroit defense. At first, it was a real mixed bag, but, as the second half progressed, it certainly got better. The Bills went over 100 yards rushing in the first half compared to Allen’s six passing attempts and 49 yards through the air.
I get what Daboll and company were trying to do, but I do not know if I respect it. LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore are no spring chickens. Was it really necessary to expose them to six and eight carries respectively? Gore almost saw his season come to an end when he was hit low with a late cheap shot on the sideline. Devin Singletary, despite being far more youthful, was only given one carry. Could it be possible he was the one guy the Bills did not want to lose to injury? Or, despite what he has shown in the preseason, is he still the third wheel?
If Tre White misses any amount of regular-season game time there is one person, and one person only, to blame: Coach Sean McDermott. Our defense is returning 10 of 11 starters, they didn’t need to risk it. Do not give me the typical line of “It’s preseason week three! It is the dress rehearsal”. If you cannot get them ready in training camp practices and in the practices leading up to week one, you need to re-assess how it is you’re practicing.
McDermott said at halftime he “wanted his defense to go up against a real starting quarterback’. Well did you get what you wanted? The vanilla scheme saw the defense get torched up and down the field on multiple occasions because there was no legitimate game planning. At least the offense had a purpose for being out there. The first two weeks it was all about timing in the passing game. This week about setting up run sets. The defense? There was no purpose to have them out there other than “to get their feet wet”, and to me that is inexcusable.
Hey, Steven Hauschka made a field goal! Other than that, Special Teams was abysmal. Corey Bojorquez continued to show he is not an NFL punter. He may look pretty in practice booting 72 yards, but he is anything but that in a game. He had a punt with over five seconds of hang time, which is something the Bills covet. However, that came along with two punts under 4 seconds, which is not ideal. He is too inconsistent for the Bills not to have a veteran like Ryan Allen on the phone and into camp.
Almost every punt return or kickoff came with a penalty attached to it. Problem is, we no longer have Danny Crossman to blame. Heath Farewell has to get this unit disciplined and ready for Week One if the Bills want a shot at making the playoffs. A bad special teams unit can cost you 2-3 games a season.
— Stock Rising —
Matt Sims Barkley
Despite a Matt Sims-Esque fumble, Matt Barkley put on another phenomenal performance. He was nearly perfect going 12-14, 142 yards, and a touchdown. Albeit against the second-team defense, Barkley is still showing all the tools necessary to be an elite backup quarterback. He is throwing with anticipation, checking down when he needs to, and putting his playmakers in position to make plays in the red zone.
The Running Backs
LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore showed us exactly what they are at this point in their careers last night. McCoy is a little bit washed, but still has the juice to break off big runs. Gore is a bruiser who will get you tough yards and take the smart, calculated runs.
Despite only one carry, Devin Singletary continues to amaze me. His nine-yard touchdown looked effortless, but it was anything but. The way he contorted his body to stretch the ball out and get into the end zone was as impressive as any you’ll see. The kid does all the little things right. To me, he’s earned more than the third wheel carries.
TJ Yeldon may have had zero yards on three carries, but he made an amazing grab down the field as a receiver. Marcus Murphy was impressive on the ground, including juking his way to a first down to seal the game despite porous run blocking. Neither looks like they have a great shot at making the team at this juncture, as neither contributes anything substantial to special teams.
Duke Williams & Isaiah McKenzie
Duke Williams and Isaiah McKenzie continue to just make plays. Williams got a lot of run with the first-team offense but saw no targets. When Barkley entered the game, he again showed signs of why he was brought to Buffalo. He does things the other receivers simply cannot, and that is size and body control. His “go up and get it” touchdown catch from Barkley was incredible. McKenzie is shifty and has an ability to create after the catch. Can either find this chemistry with Allen? Will their skill sets warrant holding them in a roster spot usually reserved for special teamers? Time will tell.
Lacey continues to bring it on every down both on defense and special teams. Despite his best work coming against second-stringers, you have to respect the fire with which he is playing. This guy wants to make an NFL roster, even if it appears it may not be the Bills.
— Stock Rising and Falling — (I’m sorry, what?)
Fans can take solace in the fact that this game wasn’t about Allen. The staff clearly has faith in where his game is, so they decided to shift the focus to the running game. However, you cannot ignore the ugly throw for an interception that was negated. This mental error has plagued Allen time and time again, and it still has not gone away.
Perry did not see the field on offense. He will likely see the field a ton next week. If he shows any semblance of ball security, the fourth running back slot is still likely his because of his special team’s prowess. However, after it looked like he could usurp Yeldon after week one, he has clearly fallen below him in the running back pecking order, and the Bills will look for every opportunity to find someone to beat him out.
Zay Jones played specials teams and well into the third quarter. In the third quarter, he made some plays including an amazing over the shoulder grab on a fade from Barkley. There are two ways to look at this. The first is that Zay is willing to do whatever it takes to carve out a role on this team and be a team-first guy. That is the likely scenario. You cannot discount, however, that the Bills could have been showcasing Jones to potentially try and trade him and free up room for other receivers like Duke Williams and Isaiah McKenzie.
Foster continues to get little to no reps on offense with any units in games and played horrendously as a gunner on special teams this week. I just do not understand where the coaching staff’s head is at in regards to this guy.
For some inexplicable reason, Ike Boettger came onto the field to take over for Quinton Spain. Spain’s injury look’s serious and it is upsetting to me that it appears Wyatt Teller won’t be the first to get a crack at the position.
— Stock Falling —