Estimated reading time: 5 minute(s)
4-0. Didn’t see that coming two months ago.
1. Resilient. I used that word last week, and it’s easily the best word to describe this team and how it plays. They just don’t give up. They’re not the best team in the league; they can’t dominate teams like the Cowboys. But they’ll stay in every play, and they’ll stay in the game. Teams have to be good for sixty minutes to beat the Bills, and no one has done that yet. The Rams came out charged up, ready to save their coach’s job and save their season. They couldn’t do it against the Bills for 60 minutes.
2. Last week’s slow start didn’t bother me. This week’s did. The first half the Bills looked very much like a team we saw a lot of last year – the 2007 Bills. Ineffective offense, bend, don’t break defense that was breaking just enough to let the other team get the lead. It was pretty disturbing to watch. Can’t keep winning playing like that.
And still, this team is doing what I hoped they would. Many fans were moaning about 2007, 30th in offense and 30th in defense. But I saw it differently. The Bills had a pretty good defense last year. Around the middle of the league in points allowed, the defense was losing games mostly because the offense couldn’t stay on the field or score. After the season, I said the offense needed to improve to just an average NFL offense, and with that help the defense would be fine. So where are the Bills after four games? The offense is an average offense, in total yards and points, and the defense is top ten in both categories. Poz and Simpson came back, and Stroud, Mitchell and Johnson showed up, all big differences this year. But the most important thing is that the offense is now an average NFL offense. It puts together drives and finishes them. That play allows the defense to rest, and it also inspires the defense to put up those late-game three-and-outs that strangle the opponent and give the ball back to the offense.
3. Offensive line? Hello? Are you guys there? Do you have something against Trent Edwards and Marshawn Lynch? Are you trying to toughen them up? Let me clue you in: They’re plenty tough enough. They don’t need to get pounded like that, week after week. This team can be good, but those guys in the backfield need your help. I guess the second half was better; Trent wasn’t constantly picking himself off the carpet. But please, let’s protect the passer a bit, and maybe give Marshawn a chance to get past the first wave of tacklers. That was painful to watch; I can only imagine how it felt for our young stars.
4. The defense seems to be giving up more yards each week, but still, the defense is winning football games for the Bills. Once again in the second half, they shut down the opposition, and this time they got the go-ahead score themselves. They made it tough for the Rams to pass in the second half, and they made it tough to run, too. Only 157 yards in the second half, no scores. The depth on defense is proving valuable, too. They survived with McGee going to the bench, they played well when Stroud was out, and Denney was a presence today. A good defensive showing. We could get used to this.
5. Steven Jackson is one heckuva ball carrier. I wanted to stop the game and give a trophy to someone every time we stopped him for no gain. Speed, power, shiftiness. Big-time weapon, worth every dollar he got for his holdout. The Bills stopped him enough to win the game, but it wasn’t easy. I’m glad the guy isn’t playing in our division.
6. Hardy showed he isn’t ready. He isn’t NFL-tough yet. He has to catch at least one of those balls. He has to want the ball and go get it. He seems to be waiting for the ball to come to him; he hasn’t gotten used to the fact that almost every time the ball is thrown to him in teh NFL, there’ll be contact before it arrives. He’ll get better, but he isn’t ready yet.
7. I’m not sure Leodis is ready, either. He wasn’t close to his man on many completions – in the vicinity, but not close like Terence is. And he (and Whitner) got themselves out of position on Jackson’s touchdown run. The hit and fumble recovery showed that Leodis can make plays. He is a talent, and with Terence going down, it was good to have him there to step in. His education will accelerate if Terence is misses some time.
8. We’ve seen Trent-to-Lee up the left sideline several times now this season. It’s time that teams understand that all Lee needs is a half step – Trent is going to put the ball where it needs to be, and Lee is going to catch it. If you single cover him out there, the Bills are going to take 30-40 yards or more.
9. This was one of those games we knew we were going to get from Trent – one of those games where he looked like a second-year quarterback. Most disturbing part was how often he threw into double coverage, and not just on the interception. He lost some of the discipline that has made him so effective up to now. He got his foot caught under Fowler’s foot. He ran into Marshawn on a handoff. He held on to the ball too long in the face of a tough blitz. All the things young (and struggling) QBs do in this league. It wasn’t the kind of performance a winning team needs. But he ended with decent numbers – passer rating of 81.6 and a W. He doesn’t panic – he stays with his game, he hangs in, and he makes plays. This was his first ugly game this season, and it won’t be the last, but if that’s as ugly as it gets, the Bills have themselves a quarterback.
10. I like Poz. He seems to be around the ball all the time. He’s a sure tackler. He isn’t a star yet, maybe never will be. But he’s good now, and he’s going to get better with experience. He seems to be getting better from week to week. It’s so nice to have a guy in the middle making plays again.
Two more takeaways for the Ball Burglar this week, and one for a score counts double. The Ball Burglar is on his way to another big season. Right now he’s paying more than $290 for every takeaway, every nickel from Bills fans around the country. Add your dollar to the Burglar’s bounty today at www.Ballburglar.com.
So the big question for the coming week is this: Are the Jets that good, or are the Cardinals that bad? You didn’t have to be a Hall of Fame quarterback to find those open receivers. The Cards will be desperate for a win. Another tough road game for the resilient Bills.