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OK. I would first like to rescind some of the certainty with which I previously stated that pre-season and training camp are worthless. Having heard some remarks from the very coach I was quoting in support of a shorter (or non-existent?) pre-season, as well as some of his players, I know that there certainly is a place for training camp, and even pre-season games. (I still contend that a tad more contact in camp might be beneficial, but, that’s not my point here.)
Nonetheless, might I point to the first three games of the pre-season as reasons why pre-season is COMPLETELY meaningless?
The Bills played rather poorly – sloppy was the word I chose – in their pre-season opener, and yet, pulled out the victory. They held the Saints to only 10 points. One week later, they had improved some, making several big plays, only to lose in the end by the reverse score from the previous week – 13-10. And then tonight they racked up 399 yards of offense, making some fantastic big plays, and lose 28-17.
Obviously, the outcome is not directly related to the level of play in pre-season. 🙂
And although we have seen our Bills in three “games” so far this year, I still maintain that we do not know that much about how this team will do until we see them play a game that matters. If they look like this in the regular season, we’re in trouble! But I don’t think they will. They players do not seem very worried at all. Nor do the coaches. I think it’s because they know that pre-season is not where you gauge what a team will do. You can gauge players… but not a team.
And yet… I watch the games. I even go to the games. What can I say? I’m a BIG Bills fan!!! 🙂
There were some bright spots tonight, but let me quickly highlight the things that do concern me a tad – even though I am trying hard to remember that pre-season is NOT a good indicator of what the regular season will bring…
- Penalties and Turnovers
Two things you do NOT want to see a lot of, and we had our share tonight. As the BTN announcers were quick (and frequent) to point out, several of the calls were pretty picky. Really, they were just bad calls. And even some non-calls. Still, 7 penalties for 60 yards… that’ll hurt. And it would have been more, but the Titans refused several calls due to a better situation resulting from their good play against our D.
One penalty even brought back a fantastic Roscoe Parrish punt return for TD. That was bad timing.
Turnovers were a bit of a problem, too. Should have been much worse. I counted three passes that Titan DBs dropped. Definitely should have been INTs. As it was there were two turnovers, could have been five. Ouch. The defense didn’t get any this week. Minus two is not where you want to be in this column.
- JP Losman
The reason JP is here is just that he’s scaring me a bit with how crazy erratic he is here this pre-season. He throws 3 horrible passes for every 2 good passes. Just super inconsistent. But man, when he’s good… he’s good. His pass to Evans was right on – from about 60 yards. He was hitting some great passes to Price tonight, too. But when he hit one long pass to Price, he didn’t seem to care that much about getting down the field to set up for the next play.
I’m hoping it’s just that his head is not in the game in pre-season. Again, I must say, it’s just pre-season. You can’t judge a player or a team based on what you see in pre-season. You just can’t. And yet… I do not much like his inconsistency…
- Defense, Where Art Thou?
Bend but don’t break, yes. But tonight we broke. Four times. And there was plenty of bending, too. We were the recipients of two missed FG gifts. But really, that didn’t matter. The run defense would make 1 or 2 great plays at the line, and then they would let the back rip off a 15-20 yard carry. The pass rush was pretty ineffective against Young for sure, sort of the same against Collins. The defensive backs had some trouble covering. And, I know Young is hard to bring down, but the tackling looked pretty sloppy.
You’ve got to wrap up. Got to.
Can someone please remind me that pre-season is not really a good indicator of what we’ll see in the regular season? Please?? 🙂
Despite an 11-point loss, and an overall sloppy game with poor tackling, turnovers, and penalties… there were some really great things, too! Check these out:
- Evans, Price, and Parrish
Three of our best WRs had some great numbers tonight. Peerless Price looked great. He hasn’t, so that was nice to see. Made some great catches – including one on the sideline, and that long one down the middle that I mentioned earlier. Price ended with 78 yards receiving, Evans with 100 yards and a 64-yard TD. Parrish ended with 26 yards on 2 catches. Combined, the three had 204 yards receiving in the first half! Not bad for half a day’s work!
I really think Roscoe is going to be fun to watch this year. It will be fun to see how they work him into the offense a bit more.
- Fred Jackson
What can you say about this guy? Is he for real? On the fourth quarter drive that ended with his rushing TD, he amassed well over 50 yards rushing and receiving. He ended with 31 yards rushing and 80 yards receiving. Nice work, Fred! I’m still trying to figure out if he just looks good because he is playing against inexperienced players who will soon be cut from the opposition’s rosters. I really don’t know yet. To me he looks great. He’s big and powerful, always moving forward, yet he has some great moves that help him avoid tackles. He has incredible balance – never gets knocked down the first time. I don’t see how the Bills cut this guy, but I’m not really sure what role he plays on the team, either. Will be interesting to see how they use him (or not?) this year.
- Aaron Schobel in the Endzone
First of all, it was cool enough that Schobel was in pass coverage. But add to that the smart, athletic play he made to save a TD (at least on that play) was definitely worth mention. On a great play fake, the Titans had a receiver wide open in the endzone. Young floated the ball to him, which he caught in his hands. The TE failed to account for Aaron’s speed and cleverness though. Schobel seeing the ball hit the receiver’s hands instantly swatted at the ball, knocking it loose… knocking away a TD!! Great play!
As I keep saying… it’s just pre-season. If the Bills looked fantastic, I would hope I would still temper my excitement with that phrase. Because I think it’s true. We’re not seeing the real Bills yet. The players remain confident in any interviews I hear/see…/give. 🙂 But that is admittedly hard to do, when we look pretty bad.
I will continue to reserve final judgment until we see 60 minutes of football against the visiting Denver Broncos. If we don’t see a well-oiled machine scoring lots of points, and a defense that doesn’t look completely inept that day, then we may be in trouble.
But we’re not yet. Just about two more weeks until we get to find out what we really have. Can’t wait!
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