Orchard Park, NY -- The first game for the Buffalo Bills is in the books.
There were some fun times for fans in attendance, but a lot of times they were left scratching their heads by plays on the field.
Here are some of my observations from field level:
- Coming in to the game, the thing I thought would dominate the conversation is how the backup quarterbacks looked. After their first performance, I think it's fair to say that the Bills wanted more out of both Tyler Thigpen and Vince Young. Both players were erratic at best on their throws, with Thigpen taking the cake on his loft-pass straight in to the arms of Redskins rookie cornerback Richard Crawford. Young's most egregious misfire came when he overthrew Kamar Aiken, who was wide open on a fly route down the sideline by a yard and a half. The only saving grace for the backup competition? The thing that we all knew coming in: Vince Young can make plays with his feet. Young went in to all out University of Texas mode during the Bills' 15-play drive that resulted in their second field goal. Anytime he could take off, he did. Both players need to repair their pocket presence, and more notably, their accuracy before the Bills take on the Vikings next week.
- The Bills came out on offense and didn't run the ball. Not once -- and here's why: The team went with a no huddle look and Chan Gailey entrusted Ryan Fitzpatrick to make all of the calls. They want to highlight his skill-set consisting of his intelligence in reading the defense and finding holes in it. The Redskins started off in their base 3-4, and never came out of it. Despite all the receivers out on the field, the Redskins stood pat. At that point, so did Fitzpatrick. Had they brought in a nickel corner on first or second downs, there likely would have been a run play mixed in. There wasn't, so the Bills didn't.
- Speaking of Mr. Fitzpatrick, he had a solid day as a whole. A couple of throws stick out in particular: his ball over the middle to Scott Chandler in between two defenders, and also hitting Stevie Johnson at the exact right time to allow him to pick up yards after the catch on the way for a touchdown. Of course, the touchdown was called back on a penalty, but the song remains the same. He had a throw that was a test of his muscle memory on his newfangled mechanics and failed. Quarterbacks coach David Lee wanted Fitzpatrick to open up his hip more on throws to the left so that way they don't sail on him. He had Derek Hagan open along the sidelines to the left and overthrew him.
- With all the no huddle and the non-stop passing, it was baptism by fire for rookie left tackle Cordy Glenn. The second-round pick got a lot of snaps throughout the evening, and had to go up against Brian Orakpo for many of them. Orakpo got the better of him on a speed rush on the Bills' first offensive play. From that point forward, I thought Glenn was solid.
- 14 penalties for 134 yards? Three false starts on one drive? Backups or not, that can't happen. You can't blame it on it being only the first preseason game, either. This has been a problem for the team all throughout training camp. Chan Gailey was not a happy man about all those mental lapses.
- I really have no idea what the heck happened on the referees call-reversal to say Brian Moorman's punt was a touchback, when Ruvell Martin clearly corralled it at the four-yard line. It could have been the worst call-reversal I've ever seen. I'm not big on hyperbole, but seriously -- that was bleeping bad.
- He won't get a ton of publicity, but I really liked the game that Spencer Johnson played as a whole. He was getting rotated in with the first team, and his penetration in to the backfield as a defensive tackle was impressive. He can be a very nice boost off the bench for the Bills. Dave Wannstedt has taken notice of him as well. I don't think he's going anywhere anytime soon.
- Rookie cornerback Ron Brooks had the only interception of the night for the Bills, which is a positive first step for him. Lucky for him, that interception atoned for his failure to rope in a gift from Rex Grossman earlier in the game. The early misstep saw the ball hit Brooks right in the breadbasket. As a whole though, Brooks came away with a solid performance.
- Here's the obligatory Jairus Byrd portion of the program. Surprise, surprise: Byrd came out playing at a very high level throughout the game. He was spectacular in run support and laid a couple of good licks in the process. He's the real deal.
- Rookie kicker John Potter had a pretty good debut. Two kickoffs, two touchbacks. He's got a legit shot to make the roster with the new rules in place.
- As far as the second and third-stringers go, here were some brief standouts for the right and wrong reasons. Linebacker Chris White was solid in run support, Delano Howell made some nice breaks on the ball from the safety spot and cornerback Isaiah Green had a big pass break-up that would have went for a long gain. On the other side of the coin guard/center Mark Asper looked overmatched inside, undrafted rookie offensive lineman David Snow racked up a pair of penalties and had a terrible snap while playing center, while cornerback Cris Hill made far too much contact in coverage, resulting in a 43-yard pass interference call.
- MVP: P Brian Moorman. This is not me being facetious. Moorman had a great game, pinning the Redskins within the five-yard line twice. Both he and Shawn Powell had a nice day, I thought.
- LVP: The second and third-team offenses. It's been a story throughout training camp and Chan Gailey has gone as far to call them out after practices. The sloppiness, the penalties and the failure to convert on short-yardage plays has to change. Luckily for them they have three more preseason games to get it right.
- Up Next: The Bills take on the Minnesota Vikings on Friday, August 17 at 8 pm. The game will be played at Mall of America Field.