Ah, a 1 PM Bills game … something feels comforting in that, familiar. On Saturday, the Buffalo Bills went to the Windy City (one of the best food cities in the US in my opinion) and devoured a hopeful Bears team on their own turf. Josh Allen did not play. Many of the starters sat, though the Bears played their #1s well into the game, yet the depth of this Bills team showed out well as they dominated the Chicago starters.
If these last two games mean what we hope they mean, then Beane and McDermott have complied one of the deepest rosters in the NFL. Dalton looked useless against our secondary, the game seemed to speed up a bit for Mr. Fields, and the Bears running game struggled to get going.
Finally, the vaunted Bears defense seemed helpless against this Daboll offense. It was a great game with so much to be excited about, and you have to think that Mitchell Trubisky had himself an ice cream cone after his stellar performance.
If somehow you missed this game, here are some highlights.
With all of that out of the way, here are 10 Things I Think I Think …
1. Mitch was the man … but he wasn’t perfect
Trubisky looked solid out there against his old team. The former first-round pick tore up the soft underbelly of the Bears’ defense to the tune of 20 for 28 for 221 yards and a TD. He also added one spectacular run for 11 yards. But while Trubisky deserves much praise and looked like a premier #2, he was not perfect. He struggled with touch passes, screens, and so forth. On those passes, he threw high, not giving his receivers the best chance to make the play. Still … nice game, Mitch.
2. Damar Hamlin is a carpenter
Like a carpenter, my man, Hamlin, knows how to lay the wood. It seemed like Hamlin was all over the field hitting people. He recovered a fumble caused by tackling-machine, Matakevitch, and finished the game with four tackles, a tackle for loss, and a QB hit. I like the way this kid plays, and he looks like the best depth the Bills have had at the Safety position for a long time.
3. I feel bad for the first guy who tries to tackle Singletary
Dude. If you’re the first guy going after Singletary, you’re going to look stupid. I don’t know what it is. He hates that first tackler, and right now, Singletary looks like a man playing for something. He’s got some juice, some fire right now that we didn’t see last year. While it was great to see Zach Moss out there, Motor looks like he’s going to be the guy. He only rushed the ball twice this game (as Daboll seemed like he wanted to throw this game), he averaged 10.5 YPC, and his TD run showed some shiftiness and footwork that make veteran DEs look just plain silly.
4. Rookies improved from Week 1 of the preseason
For those of us who were disappointed in the first showing of some of the Bills’ rookies last week, the game against the Bears was a welcome scene. Wildgoose looked much better this game. He wasn’t lost, and I was happy with his physicality. McCloud of the clan McCloud shouted, “There can be only one!” and picked off a Dalton pass and added four tackles and a pass defensed, and Marquez Stevenson did his best Carl Lewis impersonation as be blew by the Bears’ Special Teams unit for a 79 yard kick return TD. Olaijah Griffin did not look so good. His horrific block on that punt return was some weak sauce, and he’ll need to show a lot more to even make the practice team.
5. Boogie Basham had a better game than people think
OK. It’s become somewhat trendy right now in Bills Mafia to be down on Basham, and it’s somewhat fair, as he isn’t showing out like Rousseau (more on him later), but he was not bad this game. His pass rush needs some work, that is true. He seems to struggle against all levels of linemen, but I thought he showed a lot in stopping the run game. His backside pursuit was impressive to me, and he finished the game leading the team with five tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss, and two QB hits. He didn’t pop on the screen, but this was a solid outing for Boogie.
6. AJ Epenesa pancaked an offensive lineman
Dude, that left tackle has kids, bro. Not cool. Epenesa absolutely freight-trained a Bears’ Left Tackle on Saturday’s game. AJ is looking fast, looking strong. He seems to have grown into his body some and found the right weight to speed ratio he needs. I’ve been impressed with his aggressiveness, and I can’t wait to see what he does this season.
7. Isaiah McKenzie is not just a gadget guy
I know, for all of the Stevenson stans out there, McKenzie’s muffed fair catch might seem like roster doom for Lil’ Dirty, but let’s be real. McKenzie has outgrown his “gadget guy” role in this offense. He can get open against starting-caliber cover men, and he has amazingly sure hands! Last season, he had a catch rate of 88.2%, and in his career he has only four career drops. Against the Bears, he led the team with seven catches for 72 yards. Even if he doesn’t become the return man for this team, he is going to make the final 53, and it amazes me that some other GM didn’t offer him a better contract.
8. The legend of Reggie Gilliam grows!
Every Bills’ fan holds their breath when we see our boy, Josh, have to act like a fullback in short yardage. We haven’t had another option … until now. In these two preseason games, Reggie Gilliam has been used consistently for short yardage situation, and thus far, he is undefeated. He’s blowing through the line with power, and he showed some impressive footwork when he bounced outside for a TD. Not only that, but this man is taking souls when he blocks for the run game. He finished the game with eight rushes for 24 yards and two TDs. I’m impressed with his growth this offseason. I have a feeling he’s going to make some fantasy football owners very angry this season.
9. Hollister: “Knox? Knox who?”
So, you’re telling me that when Hollister is open and is thrown an easy pass that he just … catches it? How novel! Man, Dawson Knox had another bad drop on Saturday. Hollister in the second preseason game looked fast, tough, and sure-handed. Tight ends are supposed to be a security blanket for your QB. They need to be trustworthy. Now, I’m not saying Hollister is as dynamic as Dawson, but with the game on the line, who would you trust to make that game-winning catch? Maybe that’s a question we’ll have to revisit at some point this season.
10. Gregory Rousseau shines again
At the end of the day, everything else was gravy. Gregory Rousseau was the main course, and he served up something tasty. This lurching leviathan showed out again and continues to prove that his stellar college numbers were not a fluke. I saw double-teams rotating his way, yet his length and superhuman strength allowed him to consistently get push back to the quarterback. In limited time, Groot compiled a sack, a tackle for loss, and two QB hits. But more importantly, he was always squeezing the pocket like a car in a compacter. I don’t want to jinx it (Adam knocks on wood), but this dude might be the real deal.
- I really want to see Tommy Sweeney play more.
- Darryl Johnson is looking swoll, and currently, he is outplaying Basham and Obada.
- Andre Smith … didn’t know this was a preseason game. After he took Fields’ head off, I could hear Apollo Creed’s coach screaming, “This was supposed to be an exhibition!”
- I don’t know what to make of Kumerow. He was good on special teams, and he had a nice TD grab, but at times he struggled to get off at the line.
- Jake Fromm … when he throws, it looks like the ball is moving in slow motion. This is not an NFL QB. Yes, I know that Webb had a rough outing with two fumbles and what should have been an interception, but I’d still easily take him over Fromm. Maybe some GM out there is a Georgia fan and will trade a 7th for him? Doubtful. Happy trails, Jake.
- Quit picking on Siran Neal. Yes, he let up the one huge catch against us yesterday, but he stayed stride for stride with a speedster and was in great position. Sometimes, guys just make ridiculous catches.
- I’m really enjoying this Bills rush defense. Outside of Fields’ scrambles, the Bears were held to 40 yards rushing on 13 carries. That’s 3.07 YPC. I’ll take that.
Well, thank you all for reading! I can’t wait for this season to get started. If you want to share your comments, concerns, or sick burns, feel free to give me a follow @adamnannini
Stay safe out there, and Go Bills!