Effort beats talent when talent doesn’t play hard. For a half plus 2/3rds of the 3rd quarter that old axiom seemed right on the money. One team looked enthused and energized. One team had schemes that confused the other. One played like it was the 1st preseason game and the other like it was the most important thing they’ve done all year. The Bills were not the energized, well coached team. It was maddening to watch. Discipline, fundamentals, energy all were sadly lacking. At least if you were at the game the weather was about perfect.
Fortunately in the NFL they do not give demerits that carry over to the next game. It is, as I and many others have written and said, a week to week league. As godawful as that first 40 minutes were, the Bills still did enough to salvage a win. That doesn’t make it any less frustrating to have watched.
Onward to the things I liked/didn’t like.
I didn’t like:
- Watching Fitzpatrick and Preston Williams flambeing Levi Wallace.
- Seeing the Bills defensive line gashed repeatedly and with no linebacker anywhere around. I’m not a technical football guy but Edmunds and the Alexanders all seemed out of position constantly in the first half.
- Penalties!!!! In the first half alone there were holds on Dawkins, Feliciano and Ford. Very poor effort. The one on Ford was particularly annoying since he was out blocking on a small corner back and wrapped him up and just about tackled him. A push might have knocked him 5 yards out of the way.
- Josh Allen overthrowing Andre Roberts by about 15 yards on a nearly wide open play. I don’t know what happened to Allen’s long passing skills but he’s been beyond bad throwing deep this year.
- Too many quarterback running plays.
- Dawson Knox dropping passes. It’s starting to be a serious problem.
- Pre-snap penalty on Tyler Kroft. Welcome to the team.
- Allen not being on time and looking confused in the 1st half. At least he didn’t throw a pick or 2. It would have been a killer.
- The horrible attempted sack of Fitzpatrick by Jerry Hughes in the 4th quarter. (Hughes finished with no tackles, no assists and only the 1 QB hit). The Bills defensive line did not have a stellar day and their pass rush was poor most of the day.
Things I liked:
- They won.
- No turnovers. If they have turnovers, they likely lose.
- Forced 2 turnovers. If they don’t, they likely lose.
- Jordan Phillips play on the goal line. It definitely seemed to kick start things.
- Tre White. He played great all day and that was a critical pick. He also made a few nice plays in run defense too.
- 3rd quarter 98 yard touchdown drive. Nice throws and nice runs all through it.
- Two point conversion that they made look easy.
- Watching the energy and moxie Ryan Fitzpatrick played with on a team with below minimal talent. He just about willed them to the biggest upset of the year. He was on time and accurate with his throws and knew what he was doing.
- Three Stephen Hauschka field goals. They were important this week.
It goes without saying they will really need to be better next week. I’m hoping this will be a wake up call and their poor effort and focus this week will drive better play next and not be a precursor to what is a new low standard of play. In my opinion there was far too much looking ahead beyond the immediate game to what could be in January. The Eagles. Next week. That’s it.
Editor’s babble: As usual, Joe hits the mark here. Thanks to Joe for nailing yet another contribution to our blog. You can find Joe on Twitter @Joe_Tauriello.