The Buffalo Bills will host a young Carolina Panthers club for week 2 of the NFL season. Coming off a heartbreaking loss to the New England Patriots, the Bills look to bounce back and win their first game of 2013. A win keeps the Bills a game behind the Patriots in the division. A loss would be devastating to any playoff hopes the Bills may have.
Cam Newton will be the focal point on offense for the Bills defense. It will be interesting to see if the Bills decide to blitz the young quarterback more than they did against Tom Brady a week ago. The Bills used a selective blitz package to mix up coverage against Brady, and they were successful in hitting and bringing down the quarterback multiple times. The Bills still are not generating a consistent pass rush with their base 4 man front, which has to be a concern for the coaching staff. Look for the Bills to try a few more stunts and zone blitzes this week against Newton. Mario Williams has to be better coming off the edge and getting to the quarterback more consistently.
On offense, the Bills must build upon EJ Manuel’s debut, and allow the quarterback to open things up a little. The Patriots all but shut down CJ Spiller last week, and expect that to be the number one focus of defense’s every week. The Bills need to allow EJ to open it up, to allow some spacing between the line and the linebackers for CJ to take advantage off. More play action and misdirection may be called for this week. The rookie quarterback proved he can manage a game in week 1. Now he needs to take control of one.
The Bills lost wide receiver Marquise Goodwin to a hand injury last week, and that hurt them in the return game. Overall, kick returns on special teams cost the Bills valuable field position multiple times last Sunday. Leodis McKelvin decided not to field a punt one time which cost the Bills over ten yards. T. J. Graham bobbled a kickoff, than decided to bring the ball out not making it past the 15 yard line. Special teams need to be better for this club to compete and win games.
The biggest concern for Buffalo has to be the amount of penalties the team took against the Patriots. The Bills basically beat themselves. The amount of yards the Bills were actually penalized for (10 penalties for 75 yards) is bad enough, but if you add in the amount of yards the Bills had negated on the plays with penalties, you find this team took itself out of any chance of winning. Penalties stopped any rhythm the offense started to create.
With all the negatives we saw last weekend, the positive is that the Bills had a chance to win that game. The defense kept the Bills in the game, and allowed the offense to actually take the lead into the fourth quarter. If the Bills can clean up their mistakes, this is a very dangerous team that could string some wins together. Momentum could be the key both to winning the game this week, and winning games deep into the season. This has to be the week the Bills put it all together, or else the season may be over in a hurry.
The Patriots looked human in week 1, and again last night against the Jets. Tom Brady is still the best quarterback in the National Football League, but the receiving core on the Pats is very weak. While the Patriots are 2-0, their schedule will get more difficult. For the AFC East, a 9-7 record may win the division.
Leodis McKelvin came back from injury on Sunday, and looked very good in his return for the Bills. In addition to a nice run stop, he made several plays knocking down balls in the secondary. That is something every fan has wanted from McKelvin since his rookie year. Just knock the ball down.
As good as McKelvin looked, Jim Leonhard looked awful Sunday. Signed last week by the Bills, Leonhard is very familiar with Mike Pettine’s defense. But Sunday Leonhard just looked lost on multiple plays. The Bills need Byrd to return to the secondary and need his head ready to play in this defense. It’s a shame that a $7m paycheck and a franchise tag is looked upon as an insult.
Fred Jackson was probably the best offensive on the field last Sunday, which is why many fans questioned why Jackson wasn’t in the game with 5 minutes left. The new coaching staff needs to realize how good Jackson is at getting positive yards and first downs, and use that to their advantage.
Fred Jackson was also the leading receiver for Buffalo last week. That cannot happen again.
Reminder, the annual #BillsMafia Tweet up is Sunday before kickoff. Please stop by for a chance to win great prizes.