An extra preseason game was more hurtful than helpful to the Buffalo Bills offense, with Sammy Watkins again leaving the game early due to his rib injury. In fact, all the preseason finale against the Lions did is reaffirm the doubts many fans have for the 2014 season.
I’ve always maintained that I’m a realistic optimist, but after the performances in the preseason, even though they don’t mean very much, I’ve found it hard not to be pessimistic about the 2014 season. The Bills first team offense combined to score just two touchdowns and three field goals on 23 possessions, after all. However, thanks largely to the play of the defense at times, I’ve still found a few bright spots in my 10 quick observations from the Bills 1-4 preseason.
1. The defensive line is still as good as advertised – All preseason even the backups were creating havoc in the backfield and creating gaps for the LBs to fill.
2. Offense will be at a premium all season – squandering red zone opportunities is a concern, but we have to get in the red zone first, a much larger concern.
3. EJ Manuel has not progressed far enough from last season – or at least didn’t show it in the preseason.
4. Manuel needs to get better at reading defenses, making adjustments and looking off defenders with his eyes – traits good veteran QBs have, so this could happen with time.
5. At times the offense looked able to move the ball with the best of them, just not score. Other times, they looked miserable – inconsistency is something we’ll have to get used to until the team improves.
6. At least Dan Carpenter was consistent. If we can get within field goal range, we at least have a great shot at coming away with 3 points.
7. The playbook still seemed somewhat limited. More shots down field, running out of the shotgun and using read option will help immensely.
8. The absence of Jairus Bird in the secondary wasn’t as painful as I feared going into the preseason.
9. Run defense and defense overall will be much better than in 2013. When the defensive line creates pressure, the secondary seemed adept at going after throws and taking chances to create turnovers.
10. A 1-4 record in the preseason doesn’t mean we’re in for a 3 to 4 win regular season, some fans need to remember that. A lot can change when the games mean something!
The 10th observation is more of just a reminder to Bills fans everywhere, now is not the time to give up hope. The team does need to improve, A LOT, but they still haven’t lost a game this year. Some signs were there that the team is ready to progress – like the Steelers loss, the best game they played in my opinion, but that was still a loss and still far too inconsistent to win in the National Football League. All we can do now is hope that Doug Marrone knows what he’s doing and that he will get the most out of this team when it matters. Let’s sit back and enjoy the season as much as we can. Personally, this might involve a lot of Madden 15 to see the Bills play as well as I had hoped during the off-season.