Bills find way to win, down Colts in preseason opener 23-19


Football is back! Kind of! Sort of!

While it may not be real football that counts in the wins and losses, today’s game against the Indianapolis Colts gave Buffalo Bills fans a much-needed return to actual football. Like any other preseason game, there was some good, some bad, and some downright ugly. But after an offseason of nonsensical drama, a game of football was needed to return things to a sense of normality.

In that same vein, this game will get the same post-game recap treatment that any other game has been given, breaking down the most inspiring parts of the game, the position group that left us inquiring, an aspect that requires a better performance, and the most irksome part of today’s game. 

Inspire – James Cook & Boogie Basham:

The Bills played their starters today for a few series on both sides of the ball (sans Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs) and James Cook was a big standout for the offense. Cook’s TD in particular was a great example of the back seeing the game better and faster than he did last year, reading the block and immediately making the cut to the outside. Boogie Basham also made a couple of impact plays in the first half, which is a very encouraging sign to see for the third-year player.

Inquire – WR group:

The top of the WR group for the Bills has few, if any questions; Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis are the guys at the top, with new additions in Trent Sherfield and Deonte Harty shoring things up from behind. Outside of that the Bills seem to have a veritable menagerie of WRs all trying to make the roster, all of whom had very different days today. Tyrell Shavers, who has been a standout in training camp, struggled with numerous drops, but also came back to get a TD in the third quarter. Andy Isabella had a great catch and run in the second quarter matched up against an LB. Dezmon Patmon may have had the best day of all the lower-end receivers, as he had an excellent drive in the fourth quarter catching three passes and a TD. Marcell Ateman and KeeSean Johnson all made some good catches as well. Mysteriously absent from the stat sheet was fifth-round pick Justin Shorter, despite him playing snaps in the first half. Overall there weren’t any clear and definitive standouts as depth options for the WR corps. There’s still time for things to shake out, but it was a bit underwhelming, even taking into account the lack of quality quarterbacking throughout the day.

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Require – Return Game:

After Nyheim Hines’ injury just before the start of training camp, the Bills’ return situation became murky. After today’s game, the situation remains murky. The Bills started with Deonte Harty as the punt returner, who had a lackluster play. Andy Isabella took both punt and kick return duties and made very little of those opportunities, though he did have a solid day on offense. Darrynton Evans had the most exciting return of the day, taking a late kickoff 42 yards, while also adding a few solid runs on the ground. All in all, this was a concern coming into training camp after Hines’ injury left the Bills in a bad spot, and unfortunately, today’s game left fans with more questions than answers. 

Irk – Penalties:

Not an uncommon sight for the Sean McDermott Bills, but penalties were a problem for this team today. While his teams have never been overly penalized in the way that a Rex Ryan-led squad has been, McDermott’s teams have had their issues with penalties and it showed again. This isn’t a particularly surprising aspect, but with McDermott now as the DeFacto defensive coordinator, one may wonder about how much time is spent working on mistakes like penalties throughout the season when the plate is full with play-calling duties and game planning. In the end, it may not be any more of an issue than it had been in previous years, but it’s worth tracking throughout the preseason along with the regular season.

The Bills’ next preseason game will be against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday at 6:30 PM, EST. While it may not mean much in the grand scheme of things, it’s also good to see the Bills continue to win during the preseason, showing the strength of both their roster and their coaching staff. There are certainly other aspects to this game that warrant further discussion, and the Cover 1 Network will have be sure to handle every part of the Bills’ preseason throughout the week with articles and podcasts galore.