Five Things That Stood Out in Bills-Ravens
Well, that was ugly. The Bills fell to 0-3 on the preseason with their loss to the Ravens on Saturday night, as the start of the regular season is a little over two weeks away. And while preseason football in itself is pretty dull, Buffalo has now played three pretty unwatchable games of football this summer. The game certainly had its storylines, but most of the fireworks happened before, with Eric Wood signing a two-year contract extension and Marcell Dareus essentially getting a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules. Nevertheless, here’s a look at my five takeaways from Saturday’s contest.
How bad is Tyrod’s injury?: Regardless of his play so far this summer, it would be catastrophic if Taylor was out for an extended period of time. Injured when his head violently hit the turf on a sack, he was immediately sent into concussion protocol and was later diagnosed with a concussion. Saturday was supposed to be Taylor’s most extensive playing time with the first-team offense, but it was cut dramatically short after only a couple of series. Concussions are a tricky thing to deal with in today’s NFL, and you certainly don’t want to rush your starting quarterback back too quickly, but as evidenced by Buffalo’s first three preseason games, the offense could use all the practice it can get with Taylor.
Penalties . . . again: The Bills’ first-team offense continued its preseason tradition of getting flagged. The biggest culprit on Saturday was the offensive line. The unit was hit several times before the snap for not lining up properly, which forced two converted first downs to be called back. Richie Incognito also had a rough outing, and was flagged for two holding penalties. The good news for the Bills is that after seven penalties in the first half, they only committed two in the final 30 minutes. Sean McDermott brought officials in to monitor the Bills’ practices this week, and after another sloppy showing on Saturday, there’s a strong likelihood they will be back on the sidelines when practice resumes this week
He’s just a rookie: Nate Peterman got an extended look on Saturday after Tyrod Taylor exited early in the first quarter. Although Peterman had some strong moments in the game, he reminded some of his most vocal supporters that he is still young and has a lot of developing left to do. The fifth-round pick had several communication errors with his wide receivers — particularly Zay Jones — and missed some easier throws that he would’ve liked to have made. He finished 11-for-23 in the game and had five of those incompletions go into the hands of a defensive lineman. While some of that blame falls on poor technique from the offensive line, Peterman also failed to make the necessary adjustments to get the ball past the defenders. The Pittsburgh product made several nice passes over the middle to Charles Clay, but the biggest step for him toward solidifying his backup role was probably the struggles of T.J. Yates. Although Yates is working with a significantly less talented group of players, the veteran didn’t help his cause at all against the Ravens.
First team D shines: Once again, Buffalo’s top defensive playmakers had a strong outing. Even without Dareus, the Bills were sound against the run and in pass coverage. The Ravens ran the ball 37 times for only 92 yards on Saturday, and Buffalo’s defense went another week without giving up a big play. The secondary was strong and forced the Ravens’ quarterbacks to hold onto the ball for extended periods of time. Although it is only preseason — and the Ravens were without Joe Flacco — McDermott’s 4-3 defense seems to be working wonders on Buffalo’s front seven, which couldn’t find its groove under Rex Ryan. E.J. Gaines and Shareece Wright both put forth solid performances, meaning that the battle for the starting cornerback spot with Kevon Seymour will likely rage on until the end of the preseason.
Dion Dawkins struggles: McDermott announced mid-week that Dawkins would get the start at left tackle over Seantrel Henderson in place of the injured Cordy Glenn. While Dawkins has showed flashes of being NFL-ready this summer, his game took a step back on Saturday. Dawkins was beat badly by Terrell Suggs on the play where Tyrod Taylor was injured, and he missed several other blocks that led to quarterback pressures. While Dawkins is still going through his adjustment period, the Bills are certainly hoping for a quick learning curve, especially with Glenn’s status uncertain for week 1. Speaking of the offensive line, the second unit really opened up some holes for Joe Banyard in the second half, and they also gave Yates some good pass protection.