The Buffalo Bills defeated the Denver Broncos 42-15 in Week 2 of the 2022 NFL Preseason. The interest level in this week’s contest was high, thanks to Josh Allen and the majority of Buffalo’s starters taking the field for the first time this year. Overreactions stampede through the fanbase during the preseason and even early stages of the regular season, but we can siphon off some real news from these exhibitions. Let’s take a look at whose stock went and whose stock went down during today’s game.
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Josh Allen’s debut was a big talking point after coach McDermott announced that he, along with the starters, would see a “healthy” amount of playing time. Allen shined in his lone drive of action, completing 3-of-3 passes for 45 yards and one touchdown. Allen ended his day in typical Josh Allen fashion – evading pressure, scrambling and delivering a 28-yard strike to Gabe Davis in the endzone. Allen’s stock couldn’t be any higher, but the few minutes we saw of him today should ease any concerns of regression around the superstar signal-caller.
There’s been some recent discussion among Buffalo’s fanbase that veteran defensive end Shaq Lawson could be cut. But on Saturday, the former first-round draft pick made that decision a bit tougher. Lawson broke up two third-down screens, one with a batted pass and another by setting a pick on Denver’s running back as he attempted to leak out. Lawson also set the edge well against the run, which is where he thrives and is a primary reason he was signed. It’s unclear how many defensive linemen the Bills will keep, but Lawson kept his name in the mix with his quality performance in the win.
In a surprise move, Quintin Morris earned the starting nod over O.J. Howard and Tommy Sweeney at tight end. Morris shined, executing several quality blocks throughout Saturday’s contest. Morris was flagged for holding, but he displayed versatility and effective blocking throughout the game. He was the lead blocker on one of Zack Moss’ touchdowns as well.
In the first preseason game against the Colts, Howard played well into the fourth quarter, which was unexpected for the anticipated TE2. That type of treatment is generally reserved for the bottom of the roster players. There was some speculation that Sean McDermott & Co. wanted some extra protection to assist the struggling offensive line, but after Quintin Morris started on Saturday, it may be time to question just how safe the recent free agent signee’s job is.
OJ Howard did not play on the opening drive. Tommy Sweeney, Quintin Morris and Reggie Gilliam all did.— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) August 20, 2022
With Dawson Knox understandably out, the presumed TE2 got zero run with the starters. Howard did find the end zone, and will most likely make the final 53, but his usage has sent a lot of mixed signals thus far.
On the first defensive drive of the game, it was fairly obvious that it was the first live-action of the season for the unit, as the team missed a handful of tackles early. On that opening drive, Denver forced themselves into 1st and 20 with a holding penalty. They had a 6-yard pass, leaving them at 2nd & 14. A missed tackle against RB Mike Boone let the Broncos gain 13 yards back to a very reasonable 3rd & 1. Denver converted the third and short, and the Bills’ defense failed to get off the field. It’s not the end of the world, but a good tackle on the 2nd &14 run would’ve left the Bills in a better position to get off the field.
There were so many possible “stock up” options today. Case Keenum looked like one of the best back up QBs in the league. Khalil Shakir again looked like he belonged. James Cook showed burst and averaged 9.5 yards-per-carry. Zack Moss and Duke Johnson each had two touchdowns. Dane Jackson had two pass breakups. Like Dion Dawkins said to sideline reporter Cynthia Frelund, the Bills were shining on that field.
Can we start the regular season now?