So one pointless game down, three to go. That’s pretty much what it boils down to, really. Sure a win is a win and we saw some things from the lower-tier guys who might play a few downs in the regular season, but for the most part, it was just a warm-up game for the Buffalo Bills.
In the preseason, stats really don’t tell the story, but they do say a lot about the coach’s gameplan and which players they wanted involved in the play. And it’s hard to argue against that gameplan when it results in a 13-10 win against the New Orleans Saints, even if it is just an exhibition match.
For starters, the Bills passing game was so-so. Craig Nall led the team with 54 yards, with many of them going towards Roscoe Parrish’s 43 receiving total. J.P. Losman went 4/6 for 20 yards but the real story with him is how he continues to refuse to slide at the end of a scramble. When recalling his 12-yard run in the first quarter, he said he never even thought about sliding to end the play. That kind of talk allows for doubt about where his head really is in the game.
Marshawn “Money” Lynch only carried the ball twice, gaining a mighty three yards. He may have only been in one series…I’ll have to go back during the film session tomorrow just to make sure. What we did get was a whole lotta Fred Jackson. You know his name now. The NFL Europa stand-out busted out for a 17-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He probably should’ve been flagged for excessive celebration when he decided to hit the Square Button and dive into the end zone. Really unnecessary, but I guess it’ll get him on SportsCenter. Whatever, he’s got a new fan in me.
Regardless, Jackson made his case for a roster spot and should see more playing time in the coming weeks. He’d most likely be battling it out with Shaud Williams, who gained 14 yards on five carries. Shaud also had two kickoff returns, averaging 22.5 yards. They’ll only be duking it out, however, if the Bills even carry four running backs, since Anthony Thomas, Lynch and fourth-round pick Dwayne Jarrett, who didn’t look too bad in his pro debut, seem to be locks to make the squad.
The wide receivers were all over the place to be honest. Parrish made some really nice runs to get open, but it’s really had to get a good reading on who will be predominantly backing up Evans when Sam “Special Teams” Aiken led the corps with four catches and no one is really sure if Peerless Price, the incumbent #2 put on a jersey tonight. What I’m most disappointed in is the fact that Jonathan “Fast Freddie” Smith decided to go with the “J.” initial instead of the “F.” this time around.
Rian Lindell’s winning field goal was a 54-yarder. I remember back when the guy couldn’t hit anything beyond 40, whether he was in a dome or not. He has quickly and silently become a pretty reliable kicker. When that officially happened, I’m still not sure but I’ve actually got some faith in the guy if the team needs to kick with the game on the line.
The defense can’t tackle and seems hesitant to go after the quarterback. And even if they do penetrate the pocket, the can’t take the quarterback out of the play. I can see this trend spiraling into the regular season which is a very bad thing. Remember, the Bills don’t practice tackling in training camps, so it’s all a “hands-on” learning experience when they get on the field. “Hands-on,” that is, only if they can get a hold of the guy they’re supposed to be taking down.
Paul Posluszny had a nice sack late in the game and led the team with 9 tackles. He still made a few misreads early on, but that’ll happen with any rookie. A few bumps along the way is normal, but, for the most part, I liked what I saw from him. Whether he can step up and be a Pro Bowl talent like Shawn Merriman was in his rookie year is yet to be seen, but the kid can only get better.
Cornerback Jason Webster played like absolute garbage. He was burned multiple times by the Saints receivers (Devery Henderson in particular) and looked out of place more often than not. If that guy we saw tonight is the leading candidate to replace Nate Clements, then the team may be in bigger trouble that it thinks.
Reggie Bush+Screen Pass=Easy Yardage. He only rushed for 15 yards on two carries and only had 26 yards on three catches, but he seemed to be involved in nearly every Saints play in the first quarter. For the small amount of time he played, he looked very very good.
And I think Vince Young has better mechanics as a passer than Saints backup Tyler Palko. And that’s saying a lot.
So basically, the game didn’t mean anything, but it was a fun game and we saw some good plays. The blocked field goal and both Jabari Greer interceptions come to mind, just to name a few. At least they didn’t embarrass themselves on national television, even if it is only preseason.
This Buffalo Bills team should be fun and exciting to watch this year, but I’m afraid the youth and inexperience of the defense will keep us out of the playoffs again. Unless they can grow up pretty fast and learn to play like veterans sooner rather than later, I’m afraid we’ll have to save the playoff predictions for next year.