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Welcome to the Buffalo Bills Roller Coaster. Either the greatest show on earth, or just cheap thrills.
1. It’s nice to have a win, really nice.
When you lose, no matter how you lose, it’s always bad. When you win, no matter whom you beat, it’s a good thing. Yes, it was the Chiefs. Yes, the Bills won primarily on Chiefs’ mistakes. Yes, all sorts of things didn’t go all that well for Buffalo.
The Bills won. They desperately needed a win, and they got it.
It’s a good thing.
2. The Bills need playmakers, and Leodis McKelvin is a playmaker. Both interceptions were outstanding individual plays, reacting to the ball, beating the receiver and making the catch. (Did someone say he had bad hands?) Big-time athletic play, putting the ball over the pylon. Another really nice kick return. Two games in a row, he’s given the Bills an edge.
Bobby April said Leodis needed time to understand what the Bills were doing on kick returns. Perry Fewell said Leodis needed time to understand his assignments on defense. Looks like time was on his side. We’re starting to see the talent that made him a top draft pick. Leodis could be one of those special players championship teams need.
3. I hate to be Debbie Downer here, but I saw a lot of things I didn’t like:
a. The Bills couldn’t stop the Chiefs. Chiefs were 26th in the league in yards per game, 29th in points. The Bills gave up 462 yards and a lot of points. The Chiefs punted only three times. It wasn’t a great defensive performance. I’m not sure I can even call it good. What the Bills did do is make some big plays – two by McKelvin. They forced a fumble. Big plays overcome a lot.
b. The defense gave up two long plays. What is it with the big plays? Of course, if you take away the big plays, the Bills only gave up about 300 yards and two fewer touchdowns. Unfortunately, the Bills don’t seem to be able to take away the big plays.
c. The Bills gave up a touchdown drive to start the game. Not good.
d. The Bills TWICE left the greatest tight end in the history of the game absolutely completely totally wide open. “Okay, fellas: This guy, number 88, he’s good. We want to have someone on him all the time.” Did you see that touchdown catch? How in the world do you forget about Tony Gonzalez at the goal line?
He’s going to catch some balls, sure. I’ll give him that. But we should try covering him.
e. The offense put up a lot of points, and they gained a bunch of yards, but can you say they dominated? They didn’t pass for 300. They did have nice success running the ball, but somehow it didn’t feel dominant. I guess it was because a lot of the rushing yards were Trent’s. Those yards are nice, but that doesn’t mean the running game is working.
f. The Bills seem to be in love with throwing the ball to Marshawn in the flat. What is that all about? Trent wasn’t dumping the ball to him – he was throwing it to him by design.
4. 121. Passer rating of 121 for Trent Edwards. Talk about feast or famine. Trent still looked inconsistent. The long ball to Evans could not have been better. A couple of the slants were thrown behind the receiver. The overthrow of Robert Royal was, well, it was unbelievable.
Trent definitely was happy to have Reed back. He knows where he can find Reed, and he gets him the ball. Overthrew him once on the deep out route. Found him nicely – Reed did a great job going deep, then pulling up – on that scramble to his right.
Overall, Trent did a nice job passing.
Trent running? To be honest, I wasn’t completely excited about it. First, as noted above, those aren’t the rushing yards we want. Second, the run at the end of the half was a big gamble, because if he didn’t get in, the half was over. He won the gamble, and winners win more than their share of those, so I’ll add that one to the plus column. Then he did it again to open the second half. Then he ran, didn’t slide, got hit and fumbled. Dumb play. The Bills need him in the game. He didn’t, couldn’t slide on the touchdown runs. In the middle of the field, he has to get down.
I think Trent came into the game determined to show he isn’t the guy we watched for the past four weeks, the guy who was losing games instead of winning games. That’s a good thing, of course. I want him to be determined. The Bills need more than that; however; they need him to be smart. Taking hits like a running back isn’t smart.
With all that, of course, his runs were great plays. We’ve known he can run pretty well; he just doesn’t do it much. The Bills thought Trent would have opportunities on the move in this game, and he took advantage of them.
5. Defensive questions:
a. Anyone seen Poz lately? What happened to the tackling machine? Is someone else wearing number 51?
b. Mitchell? Looked to me like he was around a lot of mistakes.
c. And Wilson? I think the guy just has poor cover skills. We saw it all last year. And we saw it on the long touchdown against the Chiefs. Yes, he fell (he fell last year, too). Defensive backs are not supposed to fall. They’re supposed to keep running and get themselves into the play. The ball was underthrown, and it looked like he could have gotten there.
Wilson does a lot of good things. He’s always around the ball when he’s coming forward. He blitzes well. I like the guy. I just think he hurts the Bills in pass defense, and that’s not a good thing for a defensive back.
d. Maybe it just wasn’t all that good a day for the defense.
6. Most amazing takeaway stat of the day was that the Chiefs were #2 in the league in takeaways and had won only one game.
The Ball Burglar, of course, was celebrating. Get those takeaways, win ball games. The Ball Burglar celebrated last April when the Bills took Leodis, and the new gang member made his mark on the field in Kansas City.
The Ball Burglar loves those $2000 days. Bills fans are paying close to $400 per takeaway – and they pay extra for takeaways returned for a TD. So that was the equivalent of a six takeaway game.
The Ball Burglar needs you. He doesn’t want to pay $400 per takeaway to help kids with serious illness. He wants to pay $4000. He’s going to do it with $1 from you, $1 from me, $1 from a lot of Bills fans. It’s easy. Go to www.Ballburglar.com, click PLEDGE and make a couple of choices. As the Ball Burglar’s bounty grows, the takeaway totals will grow. The Ball Burglar guarantees it.
7. You just have to get Lee Evans into the game. The guy has the softest hands in the NFL. That catch on the deep ball was beautiful. Full speed, contested, fully extended, and there wasn’t even a hint of a bobble. He wants the ball, he’ll catch the ball, he’ll take hits. One of these days he’s going to take one of those slants to the house. Get him the ball.
8. Is Fred Jackson better than Marshawn Lynch? I don’t think so, but he certainly hits holes more quickly. Marshawn doesn’t pop through the line like Fred does. But Fred can’t carry tacklers like Marshawn can.
Marshawn just wants it. What a player. As much as I’m tired of watching the Bills throw to him in the flat, he does make plays out there, doesn’t he?
I don’t really care who’s better. It’s a very nice one-two combination, so long as the offensive line gives them some room to run. One and two, in whatever order, had themselves a nice day.
9. Did someone say offensive line? I was in a sports bar and couldn’t hear the announcers. But I did notice several close-ups of Jason Peters as penalties were being assessed against the Bills. And Dockery once, too.
I decided not to be too troubled by that. Everyone gets flagged here and there. What the Bills need is run blocking and pass protection, and they’ve been getting it. O-line had a decent day. Needs to be better, but it was a start.
10. As bad as the losing streak looked, I’m now thinking it wasn’t quite all that bad. It’s clear to me now that the Jets are a much better team than I thought. The Bills played them better in Buffalo than the Titans did in Tennessee. The Dolphins are also much better than I thought. And the Pats are pretty good, especially when the refs let Randy Moss hold and push off. The Bills didn’t play well in those games, but they competed. They played those teams better than bad teams play them.
Of course, there’s no excuse for the Browns game. That was just bad.
Good performances by Trent in a couple of these games would have turned losses into wins. Trent’s learning, I hope.
We’ll see which Trent shows up against the 49ers. If Trent and the Bills can put up a good performance, then the Bills will be 7-5 heading into the stretch where they will show how far they’ve actually come. 11-5 or 10-6 is within reach. So is 7-9 or (I can hardly bear to say it) 6-10. I started the season thinking 9-7 would be a successful year. The Bills still should get there.
Welcome to the roller coaster. Enjoy the ride.