HAMILTON: The Bills got booed off the field in their home preseason opener.
Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- The Bills were booed off the field after the first half trailing Tampa Bay 24-0.
Buffalo took the opening kickoff from their own 20 to midfield where it was third and six. As Scott Chandler made his cut on a hot read, he slipped and EJ Manuel’s pass was intercepted by Dashon Goldson.
Manuel was having maybe his toughest day as a pro completing only 9-of-18 passes for 67 yards and an interception in the first half. Doug Marrone said, “We go out there, I thought we had a good stop by the defense, they did some nice things. We started to move the football, they had pressure, we threw hot and we can’t execute it. Someone falls and it turns into an interception and that’s what happens, we fall down and they pick the ball off, you can’t do that.”
Manuel just couldn’t seem to get anything right. After Manuel threw the pick Marrone said, “He was just trying to pinpoint the ball and focus at trying to get it there and it’s very difficult to do, so I saw a little bit of that in the footwork and I saw some good throws as he came back later on, but overall we all have to do a better job around him. We had some nice pockets early against a team that has pretty good inside rushers.” Marrone added, Execution is all of it, obviously that’s not good enough, but there’s a lot of information inside those different things, but at the end of the day, that’s one of the things that we’re not very good at now. We’ve got to get playmakers on the field, we’ve got to make plays. If we were out there getting beat up physically I’d say 'Hey guys, we’ve got to get some players in here', but we gotta execute, we’re not getting beat up physically.”
Two drives later from the Bucs 43, Manuel throws to C.J. Spiller. He catches the ball, spins and fumbles it away. Marrone said, “We give up 14 points and we come back and fumble the ball again.”
Many fans have given up on Manuel despite the fact he’s only played 10 games. Marrone said, “Everyone in front of me now has a job to write what they feel and what they believe to the fans, that’s fine. For me as a coach we’re going to do everything we can to get him better. Who am I to sit here and say, what questions you should ask me or how the fans should feel. I love our fans and they have the right to feel however they want to feel. When you play poorly, you should get booed.” Marrone added, “It starts with me and I told our offensive coaches, they need to do a better job.” Mike Williams said, “It’s a preseason game, that’s how we’ve got to adjust.”
In the first half the Bills had seven penalties for 53 yards. Overall they had 12 penalties for 80 yards. “We give up 14 points and put our defense in a tough situation, we weren’t able to flip the field on the first three punts. Penalties were just unacceptable. Our biggest runs we had penalties on and you can’t do that and win,” Mafrrone said. One penalty by Erik Pears for holding negated a Spiller 18 yard run. A 12 yard pass to Spiller was brought back as Eric Wood was called for an illegal block above the waist.” Mike Williams said, “We had a lot of mistakes we made and a lot of penalties. I kept saying on the sideline, it’s got to be four to one in penalties, so I told everyday it’s our fault.”
As usual, many of the fans feel the Bills can do no wrong and that every flag against them, is unwarranted. Then they start with it’s a conspiracy by the league against Buffalo. Doug Marrone had no problem with the flags, “I thought the calls were good calls, I really did.”
The Bucs runningbacks had 15 carries for 31 yards in the first half against the number one defense. Marrone said, “Defensively we did well against the run, but we gave up a little too much on third down. For us on offense, we didn’t convert on some of the third downs, we were in the mid 30’s and we can’t do that so we’ve got to go back and we’ve got to work.” Tampa Bay converted on five of their first eight third down conversions. Buffalo was two of seven.
The first team offense stayed in and scored on its first two drives of the second half. The first drive was a nine play, 85 yard drive while the second was six plays and 60 yards. Manuel was 10-of-10 for a touchdown, but there’s one thing that needs to be said, both drives came against Tampa Bay’s backups. Spiller said, “They had the two’s in, we’re supposed to do that. It was great for us to get the momentum, but we can’t start off like that. If we want to be a great offense, we need to do it against the starters.”
One thing I’ve noticed from EJ Manuel since he’s been here is nothing seems to get him down. Yes, he knew the two scoring drives came against the second team defense. He said he can still take something from it, “I don’t care who you’re playing against, I think it’s a matter of just having some pride about yourself and having pride in the offense.”