That game had just about everything. Looking at the big picture, it’s obviously much less about the fact that the Bills are 0-2 in the preseason and more so about how sloppy they look as a collective unit on the field. We’ll jump right into the good, the bad and the ugly from Thursday night’s game.
Penalties and more penalties: The quickest way to lose football games. Sean McDermott and just about everyone on Buffalo’s roster to a man vowed to be more disciplined after the first preseason game, but that was far from the case against Philly. What’s striking for this team is that the calls are being made against just about everybody up and down Buffalo’s depth chart. Veterans like Anquan Boldin (who got called for an illegal formation) all the way down to reserves on special teams (seemingly a block in the back on every punt return) were whistled for penalties. In all, the team racked up 15 of them for 131 yards. While some of the calls by Ed Hochuli and crew were questionable, the Bills are continually shooting themselves in the foot. It has stalled drives and it has given Minnesota and Philadelphia plenty of free first downs on the other side of the ball.
Hold on Dimarco??? pic.twitter.com/6X2VKRTeLm
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) August 18, 2017
Shady’s ready: The only reason LeSean McCoy was on the field for 10 plays on Thursday was because he was playing against the team he spent six successful seasons with. The Bills would be smart to just sit him the rest of the preseason because he looks like the usual McCoy. He finished with four carries on 21 yards, including a sick juke on former teammate Ronald Darby on his first rush of the game. McCoy’s elusiveness and cuts were on full display once again, and Buffalo seems ready to roll with McCoy as the starter and Jonathan Williams as his primary backup heading into Week 1 against the Jets.
Questions at quarterback: McDermott said in his postgame presser that he was “evaluating” the quarterback position, but later clarified those remarks to reporters and said that the team was not considering a change at the position. While Taylor had an absolutely awful night( 9-for-15, two interceptions and a 12.0 passer rating), it would be unfair to place the blame for the performance of the first-team offense squarely on his shoulders. Taylor was missing left tackle Cordy Glenn and was under constant siege from the Eagles’ pass rush.
As for the receivers, there seemed to be constant miscommunication on the routes and there were other times where Taylor just missed his throws. That’s to be expected playing a game only six days after trading away your top target. Taylor also telegraphed a couple of passes, but he was limited in options across the board. As for the guys who played after him, Nate Peterman had another solid night after getting an opportunity to play almost two full quarters with the second team. Peterman has dealt with nearly the same amount of pressure as Taylor, but the rookie has shown great pocket presence and also the ability to take off and run when needed. Even veteran T.J. Yates made some solid plays tonight, so the quarterback battles are far from over.
First team defense looked good: Whether it was Lorenzo Alexander flying all over the field or Jerry Hughes putting spin moves on offensive tackles, the first unit looked to be in midseason form against the Eagles.
Carson Wentz and Philadelphia’s first team offense had one nice drive, but other than that it was three-and-outs and punts in the first quarter. The run defense helped to thwart Philly’s offense, with several tackles for a loss and not letting LeGarrette Blount get going. Despite the struggles on offense, the Bills have to be pleased with how the Bills have responded on the other side of the ball.
Bills involving their tight ends: One of the big criticisms against Tyrod Taylor last year was his inability to throw over the middle of the field, and specifically to his star tight end in Charles Clay. So far in the preseason with Rick Dennison’s offense, Buffalo’s tight ends have been much more involved and have made the most of their targets. On Thursday, the combination of Clay, Nick O’Leary and Logan Thomas were targeted 13 times, with eight catches for 79 yards. O’Leary was Peterman’s favorite target during their time on the field, and he helped the Bills pick up several first downs in the second half. Buffalo is just looking to get some consistency from that position this year, as it could really help the offense in short yardage situations and in the red zone, especially with the lingering question marks at wide receiver.