Buffalo Bills Starters Impressive In Preseason Win vs. Carolina Panthers

The Buffalo Bills earned their first preseason victory on Friday night, defeating the Carolina Panthers 20-18 in a sloppy, but promising game. Being only the second game, there was a lot left to be desired, but there wasn’t much that is too concerning.

Last week, I highlighted most of the players towards the bottom of the roster for my Hall of Fame Game recap, but this week, I decided to look at the first-team offense and defense, as they played into the second quarter against the Panthers.

After re-watching the game, here are some of my thoughts/notes.

EJ Manuel Efficient, Receivers are Talented.

EJ Manuel had a poor outing against the Giants last week, going 2-of-7 for just 19 yards, but against the Panthers, he made quick, efficient passes and successfully moved the ball down the field. There were a few plays in which he locked on his first read and forced passes, but there were others in which he took chances and delivered beautiful passes.

In the following clip, the Bills’ offense runs a pick play. Sammy Watkins shields the Carolina defenders, as Chris Hogan runs a wheel route to the outside from the slot. Manuel anticipates the route, and leads Hogan perfectly for a 32-yard gain.

Mike Williams also made up for his dropped touchdown in the Hall of Fame Game, with a 28-yard grab that showed how valuable size and toughness is becoming at the wide receiver position. Williams was able to position himself in front of the defensive back, before high pointing the ball for a tough catch. This should be a promising sign for a position group that’s lacked a true “go up and get it” receiver ever since Eric Moulds left.

First Team Defense Looking As Good As Advertised.

Although we’re just two games into preseason, Jim Schwartz has shown that his 4-3 scheme is totally different than the Dave Wannstedt one that many Bills fans were fearing. The front four continuously generated pressure, using tackle-end and tackle-tackle stunts that confused the Panthers’ inexperienced offensive line.

Aside from the Panthers’ drive that ended with a Kelvin Benjamin touchdown, the Bills’ first-team defense has surrendered just six total yards on four drives. Not too shabby.

Brandon Spikes is already proving his value against the run, making a tackle for a loss.

Nigel Bradham, who’s taking over for an injured Kiko Alonso, is seizing the opportunity and his combination of power and athleticism has been evident as he’s been flying all over the field. Marcell Dareus showed why he was one of the best run-stopping defensive tackles in the National Football League last year, as he blew a Panthers’ guard off the ball to the ground, before wrapping up Kenjon Barner for a short gain.

 Offensive Line Still A Work In Progress

The Bills’ offensive line continued to struggle on Friday, as the interior linemen struggled to get much of a push in the run game.

Chris Williams, who the team signed as a free agent this offseason, struggled throughout the game, even against Carolina’s second-team defensive line.

Cyril Richardson looked solid when run blocking, but got caught off-balance a few times in pass protection, failing to anchor against interior pressure.

Next week, the Bills take on the Pittsburgh Steelers, in the team’s third preseason game. The third game is typically when teams showcase the starters into the third quarter. However, since the Bills have five preseason games this year, they might opt to let the “bubble” players get significant snaps, as cut-downs from 90 players to 75 will happen after that game.


3 Replies to “Buffalo Bills Starters Impressive In Preseason Win vs. Carolina Panthers”

  1. Pingback: Buffalo Bills Starters Impressive In Preseason Win vs. Carolina Panthers – My Buffalo Sports

  2. Pingback: Buffalo Bills Starters Impressive In Preseason Win vs. Carolina Panthers – MyBuffaloSports.com

  3. Mike Williams didn’t have a “dropped touchdown” in the hall of fame game. The refs missed a pass interference call. If you go back and watch that play, you’ll see Prince Amukamara hanging on to Williams’ arm before the ball got there.