Lookie, lookie at our rookie.
The Bills big 26-16 win over the Broncos on Sunday at New Era Field provided the best evidence to date that the Bills’ coaching staff and front office know how to find the right players for their scheme. The Bills crushed the Broncos and their hopes for going 3-0 with a sparkling new defensive secondary no one saw coming.
In fact, the Broncos decided to go heavy-handed early. They put cornerback Tre’Davious White in the cross hairs and introduced him to life in the NFL. Their strategy paid dividends in the first half, burning White on several occasions.
However, the Broncos didn’t realize who they were dealing with. There’s a reason White was selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft. Although his understated personality may not garner a lot of attention, his mental toughness and technique on the field certainly did, after he did an about-face in the second half.
White showed the Broncos offense exactly what the Bills see in him… an old soul in a young talented body who seized the moment and finished the game with seven combined tackles (6 solo, 1 assist), four passes defended and one crucial interception that was a turning point in the game.
Furthermore, White’s partner on the opposite side, cornerback E.J. Gaines also had a terrific interception in the first half. Gaines showed why general manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott have a good eye for the kind of player that best fits their scheme.
While many fans bemoaned the loss of wide receiver Sammy Watkins in the trade that brought Gaines to the Bills from the Los Angeles Rams, Gaines quietly showed why he is a perfect fit in coordinator Leslie Frazier’s defense. And what a fit he’s proving to be………
However, while the defense posted their third stellar game in a row, the offense is clearly still a work in progress. Once again a Bills’ opponent dared quarterback Tyrod Taylor to prove he could be successful moving the ball through the air. The Broncos stacked the box and continued to frustrate running back LeSean McCoy and kept him to a mediocre 21 yards on 14 rushing attempts.
But that’s not all. Here’s few more of the good, bad and ugly “biopsy results” from the game:
- Special teams are a work in progress but improving. Newly-signed LB Deon Lacey (who?) made a name for himself with a huge special teams play to stuff a fourth-down attempted fake punt at another crucial point in the game.
- Taylor’s 20-of-26 for 213 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT performance was good enough to begin cracking the vertical game that’s been non-existent to this point in the season.
- Dion Dawkins did an admirable job filling in for LT Cordy Glenn. He got burned a couple times, but considering the opponent, he held his own.
- Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Kudos to WR Andre Holmes for picking off a deflected pass from rookie Zay Jones in the end zone for a touchdown.
- Kicker Steven Hauschka looks like he was another good signing by ‘McBeane’. He’s getting the kicking thing down at New Era Field with two 50+ yard field goals yesterday at critical points in the game.
- WR Jordan Matthews continues to quietly develop some good chemistry with Tyrod Taylor. A weapon on offense who will only become more dangerous over time.
- The mental makeup of this team is beginning to reveal a resilient group of players who don’t quit when the chips are down.
- The yellow hankie problem, although certainly not as bad as it’s been in the past did rear its ugly head at inopportune times for total of eight penalties for 69 yards.
- Along the same lines, the obligatory holding call on OG Richie Incognito
- I remain tepid about the fit between this offensive line and the zone scheme they’re trying to implement. “Don’t fix what ain’t broke” comes to mind after the Bills posted the best rushing attack in the NFL the last two years in a row and are now struggling with consistency. Willing to give it more time, but so far… not impressed.
- WR Zay Jones has a case of rookie-itis and needs to develop his chemistry with Taylor. No doubt this will come with time, but the lack of reps together is painfully evident on the field.
- Running game as a whole needs a lot of work, along with more creative play-calling.
- Depth at the tackle position. Dion Dawkins played admirably against a stout Broncos front seven. With Cordy Glenn’s questionable ankles/feet and Seantrel Henderson still two games away from returning from suspension, things look bleak at the moment in terms of depth at the tackle position.
- The pass to a wide-open Zay Jones in the middle of the field by Tyrod Taylor. These are the type of passes that provide supporting evidence to those critical of Taylor as a franchise quarterback. If Taylor hopes to continue making his case, he needs to refine that part of his game.
- My timeline over the weekend after remarks made by the President regarding NFL players’ response to the national anthem. I rarely publicly mention politics (and that will continue to be the case), but the inflammatory rhetoric on my timeline broke my heart. Will go to my grave promoting more peace, love and kindness in the world and this situation reinforces the urgency to do so on my part even more. Loving each other MORE is the greatest thing we can do!
On a happier note, which is where I strongly prefer to leave things, Bills fans have evidence of light at the end of the tunnel. This coaching staff and front office have a good eye for the right kind of talent to bring together in creating a successful team. They are working daily to churn the bottom part of the roster to keep improving depth.
It’s way too early to determine how this team this season will fare. But, it’s not too hard to see reasons for optimism that the culture shift we so desperately need to see in this franchise is starting to show a couple of early green shoots.
Editor’s babble: Thanks for reading my drivel-of-the-day. If you can and choose to stomach more, you can follow me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.