YAY we won! Then again there was never any doubt in my mind that we would. Aside from RB LeSean McCoy, the Bills don’t exactly have a ton of offensive weapons with which to scare anyone. For god’s sake, they were forced to start slow-footed WR Anquan Boldin on the outside tonight. That said, at least we didn’t lose to a lesser opponent. That’s an important building block in a successful season.
The 20 – 16 win gave us a chance to look at some new starters. Given that the passing game didn’t click with the same rhythm it did a week ago, you have to wonder if it was adversely affected by the trade that brought us a key player in the Secondary.
But what about the stuff that the stats don’t reveal? That’s the reason for these “Four Things” articles. To have an idea of what needs addressing BEFORE the game, so that we’re forced to honestly answer questions AFTER the game.
So, of the Four Things we were looking for in this last game, what exactly did we see? (Keep in mind, I talk about the starters in the Four Things section. I’ll address the back-ups, later. If at all.)
1) Being in sync: QB Carson Wentz and WR Alshon Jeffery didn’t seem to be on the same page mentally tonight. That however was exactly what I expected would be the case. Live action is different from practice, and with Jeffery already taking it easy do to a shoulder strain, even working in practice was going to be turned down in intensity. It’s going to be a process. That said, BOTH of these guys need to play at least a half next week. (NOT DONE)
2) Push must come to shove: At no point did the Eagles attempt to establish an inside attack with RB LeGarrette Blount. They just kept running him outside. He did have a nice 8 yard gain on one carry, but other than that, the Eagles punked out at fighting in between the Tackles. (NOT DONE)
3) Slow the inside release: Many will tell you their favorite play was the pick by CB Ronald Darby. For me it was the interception he didn’t get, that I liked most. He closed a shallow cushion, forced his man outside, then closed on the ball like he was shot out of a cannon. It was perfect technique. Totally without flaw. 9 times out of 10 that would be six points. On the pick however, Darby’s technique initially took him out of position. But when QB Tyrod Taylor underthrew Boldin, it gave Darby time to adjust. Not to take anything away from Darby, but he won’t see an assignment that easy in the NFC East. True, he’s a work in progress, but he truly has done really well for just getting here. (DONE)
4) Control the middle: The defensive interior was sort of up and down vs the run tonight. That was kind of to be expected by a team that runs the ball as well as the Bills do. (They were the number one rushing team in the NFL last year.) While we didn’t control the middle in an overall sense, we did manage the situations well. Situational ball, wins games. Winning games, wins divisions. Admittedly we didn’t control the middle, but with the big picture in mind, I’ll take it. (NOT DONE)
That puts this weeks score at 1 out of 4 things done. Our cumulative score after two weeks, is a less than stellar 3 out of 8.
On The Whole:
It was a penalty laden mess rehearsal, but there were some good things to take away from it. OLB Mychal Kendricks continued to prove his doubters wrong with his second interception in as many games, adding a sack to boot. QB Dane Evans has me wanting to see him get a look with the second unit next week. The guy plays his heart out and we should get a look at him against stiffer competition, to see if we have something in him. (Even if it just means we have a QB we can trade.)
ICYMI: RB Corey Clement got some early reps this week. Meanwhile RB Wendell Smallwood watched in street clothes.