There were a lot of good things that we saw from this Buffalo Bills team in Doug Marrone’s first win as an NFL head coach on Sunday. We saw Mario Williams break a franchise record. We saw EJ Manuel execute a nearly flawless 2 minute drill for the go ahead touchdown. And we saw two incredible stops to hold the Panthers to just six points on two potentially disastrous turnovers. It wasn’t all rainbows on Sunday though, and like many of the players said in post game press conferences, this team still has a lot to work on.
Now I’m usually an eternal optimist in my posts, and I still am completely optimistic about this team, but I also like to look at the flip side of the coin. So after a big win let’s look at some unnerving aspects of the game on Sunday.
The obvious issue that anyone can see by just looking at the stat sheet is the negative turnover ratio. The Bills started out with a Kiko Alonso interception on the first drive that put the Bills in favorable position, but they were unable to take the ball away after that. Late in the game, Manuel had two turnovers on back-to-back drives that put the Bills in a sour position. Manuel of course made up for it with his beautiful drive for the win, but it was still a rough turn of events that put the Bills in the situation to need that last second touchdown. Even through this, Manuel really impressed me when he came back out losing no confidence; having the poise to continue to smoothly lead the Bills offense to a victory.
The Bills committed seven penalties on Sunday for 55 yards. Although this looks better than week one where the Bills committed ten penalties for 75 yards against the Patriots, it isn’t as big of improvement as it seems. These penalties came at costly times, especially for the Bills defense. Of the seven penalties, four were called on the defense, and each and every one of them resulted in a first down for the Panther’s offense. As I mentioned earlier. the defense did hold stiff twice with the game on the line, but it could cost this team big in the future if they continue to give opposing offenses free first downs.
I counted three times Sunday when Cam Newton overthrew his receivers when they were behind the Bills secondary. I was particularly concerned when I saw Rogers playing tight man coverage against any one of the Panthers wide receivers. He was consistently beat over the top, and Da’Norris Searcy wasn’t able to provide much help in coverage. This is hard to watch at this point in the season but at least there is hope to come. If Byrd returns to the field soon it will quickly help alleviate the secondary woes. On top of that, when both Byrd and Gilmore are back on the field this secondary unit could go from the weakness of this defense to arguably it’s strength!