The Buffalo Bills suffered their first loss of the young 2017 season today at the hands of the Carolina Panthers. Actually, I would be willing to argue that the loss came at the hands of their own offense. Either way, the Bills were on the wrong up of a touchdown-less game, 9-3. Here are my ups and downs from the loss.
Every aspect of the defense deserves to be on here for today’s performance. If you told McDermott this morning that his defense would not allow a TD against Cam Newton and the Panthers, he undoubtedly would have taken it. The Bills defense allowed 255 total yards, was 3/3 in the red zone, and sacked Newton 6 times. As bad as the offense played today, the Bills were never more than one play away from taking the lead, and that is 100% on the defense. The elite defense that we enjoyed in 2014 might be making a comeback in Buffalo.
Poyer has been all over the field in his first two games as a Bill. It seemed that every big hit, pass breakup, or key third down stop had Poyer involved in some way. Poyer lead the team with 11 tackles, and for a second straight week he recorded a sack. Jordan Poyer has already shown more in two weeks than Corey Graham or Aaron Williams showed at any point last year.
Are you sensing a theme here? Jerry Hughes was also all over the field today, constantly getting the best of Panthers LT Matt Kalil. Hughes finished with 2 of the Bills 6 sacks and had a team-leading 3 tackles for loss.
In addition to Poyer, Alexander was all over the field today for the Bills. He finished with one sack, and was instrumental in many more throughout the afternoon. Alexander also came up with some key special teams tackles. I was worried that Alexander’s success last year was an effect of Rex’s scheme, much like the success that Aaron Maybin experienced when he was with the Jets. But, Alexander is performing regardless of the role he is placed in. He is a great leader for this football team.
Schmidt was put in difficult situations all day long, having to get the Bills out of terrible field position and try to “flip the field” on the Panthers. He had a great day, finishing with an average of 49.5 yards on 6 punts, with a long of 57 yards.
176 total yards, 21 minutes of time of possession, 4/13 on third downs, terrible execution in key occasions, including a 4th and 1 in the 3rd quarter with the Bills trailing 6-0. The Bills did not cross their own 35 yard line until the third quarter. Let that stat sink in.
Taylor passed for 125 yards. This is not the stat that you want in the NFL in 2017. Through two games, we are seeing much of the same from Taylor. Taylor did not see open receivers, was hesitant with the football, and took too many sacks (at key moments). Of course, the play that people are going to talk about is the last play of the game, where Taylor and Jones could not connect on a game-winning pass.
The final pass was a hard ball for Jones to re-adjust to and there is shared blame between Taylor and Jones for the result of the play. However, if you manage to get both hands on a ball (as Jones) did, then you should be expected to catch the ball, especially when your team traded up to draft you.
Last week, I gave McDermott an up for his first career win in his first game as an NFL head coach. Today McDermott had some of his first mistakes as a head coach. Simply put, McDermott’s game management today was terrible. Late in the second quarter, the Panthers were facing a 3rd and 15 and McDermott allowed a full 40 seconds to come off of the clock before taking a timeout. Of course, the bigger blunder was during the final drive, where he let 23 seconds run off of the clock between 1st and 2nd down, while sitting on 2 timeouts, with the ball on the Carolina 38 yard line. There is a game management learning curve for a first time head coach, and hopefully McDermott learned a lot with his blunders today.
All throughout preseason, we heard that the entire Bills offense was going to circulate around LeSean McCoy. The fans and media mentioned that if the Bills could not get him going in a game, then things could get ugly. That is exactly what happened today. All offseason, Sean McDermott validated the importance of the quarterback position on an NFL roster, so deep down he has to know that 125 passing yards and the inability to make quick decisions will not get the job done going forward. Let’s hope that the Bills make some necessary adjustments to their offense this week in practice and are ready for a very important conference game next week against the Broncos. Last week I said that the next 3 games were going to tell us a lot about how the 2017 Bills stack up. What did we learn today? The defense will be much improved from last year and the offense needs some serious work.