A loss isn’t always a total loss. There’s plenty we, as fans, can be hopeful about after Sunday’s narrow defeat to the Patriots. Then again, there’s also plenty to improve upon. Here’s the Good, the Bad and the Ugly for week 1.
EJ Manuel: The kid showed he could be a leader in pressure situations. He showed poise and awareness; two things that have been absent from Buffalo’s quarterbacks over the past decade. We saw him read defenses well and take shots in order to make throws. The confidence he has in his teammates to make plays seems to breed in them self-confidence. If he can stay healthy, I think the Bills have finally found a guy they can groom into franchise quarterback; no false hope needed. Evidence: that touchdown throw to Stevie.
Not a blowout: For those of us who remember the Bills as the “Beasts of the AFC East”, the past 13 seasons have been embarrassing. We used to beat up on New England every year. All that changed when Belichick and Brady teamed up. Since then, the point differential has been 370-263 (107 points) in favor of the Pats and Buffalo has become the punching bag of the AFC East. Sunday was reminiscent of the old days when we could actually hang with a top notch team. Were there growing pains? Of course but, and I hate having to make this sound positive, we only lost by 2.
Pettine’s defense: Going up against Brady and the boys is not the most even test for a defense but, Mike Pettine’s crew held their own. The run defense was very shaky but, it was nice to see a blitz going again and it was even better to see Brady get flushed and flustered. High octane defenses run this league and, with an NFL-quality coordinator, our talented vets and rookies like Kiko Alonso, the Bills should be able to keep the energy high.
Time management: The hurry up offence was run very well this week…by the Eagles. What made it work was regulation. When they needed to run time off the clock, they increased play times from 12 seconds to 20 seconds. When the needed to move the ball, they’d ramp up the speed. Not only is it good time-wise but it confuses defenses. Both Philly’s Chip Kelly and the Bills’ Doug Marrone ran this offense effectively in college ball but the best transfer to the NFL goes to Kelly. If Marrone can find a way to regulate play times, we might not see that nasty 3 and out with 4:31 left in the game.
CJ Spiller: You gotta give the man somewhere to run. That is all.
First downs: The hurry up offense is designed to get first downs and score quickly. The down side to it is the occasional very fast 3 and out.
Penalties and turnovers: Week 1 is Mistake Fest for any NFL team but, you can’t give Tom Brady 2 turnovers and 75 yards on penalties and expect to win. Hopefully, that was just first game jitters and not the pandemic it’s been in the past.
Tom Brady’s face: Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
– Josh Paufler