Yuck. Just yuck. With all due respect to whatever the second teamers may do on offense and defense, that first half was a pitiful excuse for how to play the game of football.
Chan Gailey was ticked off, Buffalo Bills fans are ticked off, I was ticked off. I think it's safe to say we were all pretty mad at how that first half went down. I literally only have three nice things to say before I get going on all the negatives. So let's just cross those off right at the beginning, shall we?
- The one saving grace in the game against Denver for me at least is another solid outing by Bills first round pick Marcell Dareus. His explosion through the line of scrimmage and ability to fend off more than one blocker on any given play shows he's going to be a very good player for a very long time -- barring injury of course. Dareus is what is keeping some Bills fans sane tonight.
- Fred Jackson might be one of the best running backs I've seen in pass protection. He lights linebackers up. He also had a nice night running the football.
- Chan Gailey's half-time interview where he told Mike Catalana that the offensive line got manhandled, and that following hits like the one on Donald Jones, urging his team to "Be smart, but don't ever back down." Kudos to him for that. It was also good to see some fight from Jackson, Stevie Johnson and Corey McIntyre after that gruesome hit by Rahim Moore. With that said, let's get to the bad...
- The offensive line, in a word, was deplorable. Demetrius Bell did his best EZ Pass impersonation, Kraig Urbik is auditioning for the new show 'Worst Starting Offensive Lineman in the NFL,' Andy Levitre pretty much lost his job to the likes of Chad Rinehart (more on that later) and both Erik Pears and Eric Wood were guilty by association. It's small, but to their credit, the Broncos have fairly good pass rushers in Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller.
- If you were keeping tabs on the heart-stopping left guard battle between Levitre and Rinehart, you might have noticed this: Levitre got the first drive of the game with the first team. The next three drives? All Chad Rinehart. Methinks Rinehart just pulled ahead in this 'training camp battle.'
- Since I complimented on Fred Jackson for his ability in pass protection, maybe he should give a couple of ounces of his skill in that to C.J. Spiller. He didn't even look to see where the defense was lined up on a blitz call and let Ryan Fitzpatrick get killed.
- CJ Spiller kept trying to kick it outside way too early in both his running and receiving. You're not going to get the big play every time. Get it through your head. Three yards forward is better than 11 to the left. Also, running in to Fitzpatrick on a designed run play? Tough outing for Mr. Spiller.
- It's preseason, but Ryan Fitzpatrick continued his theme from practice this past week. His throws were erratic, just never getting on the same page with any of his receivers. The interception wasn't his fault (more on that in a moment), but 6-of-17 for 44 yards is a nightmare. On a third down play, he targeted Naaman Roosevelt in the slot to try and pick up the first on a quick throw. He failed to recognize Champ Bailey was covering Roosevelt. I like Naaman, but he needs to realize 'Bailey > Roosevelt' every single time.
- The first drive in particuliar showed exactly why Fitzpatrick will never be 'the guy' for any franchise in the NFL. He made a nice pass to Stevie Johnson on a quick hitting inside slant. But once the throw is over about 15 yards -- like the fade route to Donald Jones in the end zone -- he is woefully inaccurate. They can't keep settling for quarterbacking like this forever.
- If Marcus Easley wants to throw his hat in for the job to take over for Lee Evans' vacant role, he needs to come down with the football on that tip-to-interception play at the end of the first half.
- The Bills second team offense scored a touch...down? I feel like a person trying, but unable to smile due to all the plastic surgery performed on their face to avoid wrinkles. But I got this comment sent to me on Twitter: "I think Thigpen should be our starter." AHHHHHHHHHHH. That's me screaming in agony at the thought of another QB controversy. At least one between two completely mediocre quarterbacks.
- Ok, I lied, I have something else that's positive. Spencer Johnson impressed me for the second straight game, just like he has all throughout training camp. He is one hell of a player to have for depth on the defensive line.
- Ooh, ooh! I've got another one! The first team defense allowed only 2.9 yards per carry. Solid.
- One more. Torell Troup, despite only having one hand, looked great as a nose tackle
- Utoh, here we go again... the first team defense allowed 10.1 yards per pass attempt. A lot of credit has been given in the past to the secondary. My question is, why? Just because the run defense out-stunk them last season doesn't mean they were effective. They're lazy in coverage (Leodis McKelvin) and lack the big play (Jairus Byrd). If that's how they're going to be, why not just throw Aaron Williams out there. Would he do much worse? The answer is no.
- I will say though things may have been different if Shawne Merriman were on the field. An above average pass rush off the edge could have been the difference between a few completions, leading to a change in game plan by the Broncos on offense. It's really weird to think a guy that's played only nine plays for the Bills is that much of a difference for the team this season.
- Reggie Torbor is filling Paul Posluszny's role last season as 'Inside Linebacker who is Too Slow to Cover.'
- In a distinct difference from Posluszny though, there's Nick Barnett in coverage. Barnett is very instinctive, diagnoses plays and gets near the spot where the ball is going and sometimes over-pursues. I'll take that over Posluszny being three steps too late all the time. At least for now. I reserve the right to change my mind.
- It's a scary, scary thing watching two Bills face some pretty serious hits. Donald Jones may have been hit so hard in the head he thought he was five years old again. Johnny White getting carted off the field is even scarier. Here's to hoping both of those guys make full and speedy recoveries.
- Unfortunately though, White's injury marks the fifth injury of a 2011 Bills' draft pick during this preseason. Kelvin Sheppard, Chris Hairston, White, Chris White and Justin Rogers all have faced some pretty significant injuries. Only Marcell Dareus, Aaron Williams, Da'Norris Searcy and Michael Jasper remain fully healthy.
- The Bills' first team offense: 2 Games, 6 Drives, 6 Points. Yikes.
Bills' MVP: Marcell Dareus - 1 sack, 1 TFL - A star in the making. Bills' LVP: The 'manhandled' Offensive Line - Do I need any more reasons?
Up Next: Saturday, August 27 vs. Jacksonville at Ralph Wilson Stadium. 7:00 PM. Final Thoughts: The Bills' defensive line have made strides forward, but the rest of the team has taken many steps back. September 11 is creeping up, and they have a lot of work to do to be competitive by the time their first game rolls around.