The Buffalo Bills started the new Rex Ryan-era in style this past Sunday with a convincing 27-14 win over the visiting Indianapolis Colts. The story lines were plentiful as it was newcomers Tyrod Taylor, Percy Harvin and Ronald Darby among others making an immediate splash.
From the dominant defensive performance to a slightly improved offensive line and everything in between, here are individual game grades for the Buffalo Bills week one victory over the Indianapolis Colts:
Tyrod Taylor: Taylor was sharp in his first career NFL start completing 73% of his passes and showing good poise in the pocket. He moved through his progressions quickly and was able to hang in long enough to deliver a few strikes on routes that needed the extra time to develop.
His best throw of the day was a 51-yard bomb to Percy Harvin to take the lead 7-0. Taylor also used his speed at just the right time with a 31-yard scamper to pick up a big third down. He finished with a solid line: 14 of 19 for 195 passing yards with one touchdown, 41 yards rushing and a QB rating of 123.8. Grade: A
Percy Harvin: It’s been somewhat of a guessing game on how Harvin would fit into this Bills’ offense with all the time he missed during the preseason. The wait was well worth it as Percy exploded onto the scene with 5 receptions for 79 yards including a diving 51-yard catch in the endzone.
Harvin was Taylor’s favorite target catching all five of the passes thrown his way. The playmaker also ripped off a nine-yard run around the left end with a nifty cut up the field. Grade: A
Ronald Darby: The rookie cornerback got thrown into a tough matchup with Indy’s receivers and responded in memorable fashion. His biggest play was an interception on a deep pass that was intended for T.Y. Hilton but was slightly underthrown. Darby was initially beat off the line but showed phenomenal catch-up speed to make the play.
Despite allowing five receptions out of the seven targets thrown his way, Darby kept those gains to a minimum as they only yielded 5.6 yards per completion. Additionally he was vicious in his six takedowns and had tight coverage even on passes that got there. Rex Ryan has to be happy with this year’s second-round draft pick. Grade: A
Richie Incognito: The bruising left guard had a strong overall performance and especially did a good job of clearing room for the rushing attack. Incognito finished with the third best ranking for guards out of 68 players graded in week one and didn’t let up any QB hits or hurries. Grade: A
Nigel Bradham: The linebacker led the team with eight tackles and was especially stout against the run. He recorded one sack, one QB hurry and although a few plays were made on him in the passing game he showed good range in coverage.Hopefully the Bills can figure out a way to lock him up for the future. Grade: A
Stephon Gilmore: Gilly Lock saw a lot more action than usual on Sunday as Andrew Luck threw at the fourth-year cornerback 14 times. Typically, quarterbacks stay away from Gilmore as Indy’s signal caller was only able to complete six passes his way.
Stephon had great coverage for most of the game even though he let an interception slip threw his hands on an underthrown pass. He finished with seven tackles and four passes defended. Grade: A-
Karlos Williams: The fifth-round pick had missed the better part of the preseason but immediately reminded everyone why the Bills are so high on the rookie. Karlos took his first career NFL carry to the house for a 26-yard score on a trap-run play up the middle that looked to be stopped for a minimal gain.
Williams’ bounced off his own linemen and made one cut, outrunning two defenders to pay dirt. He also had a few more tough runs on his way to 55 rushing yards on six attempts. That one-cut ability and acceleration combined with his physical running style makes him a great compliment to McCoy. Grade: A-
Aaron Williams: The starting safety played on all 77 defensive snaps and was all over the field in pass coverage. He assisted on a tackle and had a late interception on a deflected pass. These sort of quiet but steady performances from Williams are becoming the norm and are more than welcome. Grade: B+
Corbin Bryant: Starting in place of suspended Marcel Dareus, Bryant was solid against the run and finished with four tackles. He also sacked Andrew Luck and made some smart plays eating up double teams which allowed the linebackers to fill the hole. Bryant is a quality replacement and will be needed throughout the year. Grade: B+
Mario Butler: The training camp standout was fantastic in his 26 snaps as he only let up one catch out of the five attempts in which he was targeted. He also defended two passes including a deflection that ended up in Aaron Williams’ hands and if you can cover then you’ve got a role in Rex Ryan’s defense. Butler looked every bit the part in his NFL debut. Grade: B+
LeSean McCoy: Shady ran well off both tackles and behind Incognito but it was tough sledding up the middle as he also lost yards bouncing it outside to the left. McCoy looked great catching passes out of the backfield and turned a couple busted runs into decent gains with some shifty moves.
LeSean only finished with 41 yards rushing on 17 attempts but fared better in the passing game with three receptions for 46 yards. He looks to still be working himself into game shape too as you can see his mind moving faster than his legs at times. Grade: B
Charles Clay: The speedy tight end reeled in all four of his targets for 43 yards including a long catch and run of 27 yards. His elusiveness in the open field is one of the big reasons Greg Roman wanted Clay and he didn’t disappoint with 12 yards after the catch on Sunday. He was on the field 56 of the 59 offensive snaps and was called for one penalty. Clay looks like he’ll fit right into Greg Roman’s offense. Grade: B
Kyle Williams: The veteran defensive tackle took up plenty of space in the middle and was able to bother Luck a few different times. He assisted on two tackles, had one QB hit and hurry and drew a holding penalty when he beat his man to the inside. Grade: B
Nickell Robey: The defensive back had five of the eight balls thrown at him caught but he did a good job of tackling as the plays only went for 3.9 yards per completion. He finished with four tackles, a sack and a pass defended and was part of a total team effort in shutting down Indy’s passing game. Grade: B
Preston Brown: The second-year linebacker made the hit of the game on Frank Gore in which he filled the hole and essentially ended the running back’s day. Brown was tough against the run with five tackles but was out of position a couple times in pass coverage. Luckily no passes were completed on him and the inside linebacker continues to play well. Grade: B
Eric Wood: Despite being whistled for a holding penalty and letting up one QB hurry the starting center had a decent game. Wood finished with the 11th best ranking out of 28 players graded according to PFF. Grade: B-
Seantrel Henderson: The second-year right tackle had a decent game but for the most part was pretty unnoticeable. That’s usually a good thing for offensive lineman and Henderson was above-average in pass protection but still needs to get better at run blocking. He gave up one QB hurry. Grade: B-
Bacarri Rambo: Once starter Corey Graham left the game with a concussion Rambo was the next man up. After briefly being banged up himself the former collegiate All-American played the rest of the way totaling 71 of 77 defensive snaps and three tackles. He was decent coverage just like the rest of the Bills’ secondary even though he did get beat by Donte Moncrief for a short touchdown. Grade: B-
Robert Woods: The third-year receiver was only on the field for 28 of 59 offensive snaps and caught two passes for 27 yards. One of those was a big third-down conversion that Woods momentarily juggled before reeling it in for a 15-yard gain.
Woods was also solid in blocking for the run and I would expect to see him with another target or two in future games as teams begin to pay more attention to Harvin. Grade: B-
Mario Williams: Super Mario didn’t record any tackles but did his usual job of pushing the pocket and making Luck move around. Williams logged two QB hurries and one hit but was otherwise stymied by a Colts offensive line that’s built for pass protection. Grade: C+
Jerry Hughes: The newly-minted defensive end did a good job of defending the run but didn’t fare as well in rushing the passer. He was also whistled for three penalties, including a facemask call after he forced a fumble on a Colts’ running back.
Hughes finished with three tackles but will need to cut down on the penalties and get a better pass rush this weekend. Marcel Dareus returning will certainly help. Grade: C+
Sammy Watkins: Although Sammy was only targeted twice and he didn’t record a reception he had a key block in front of Karlos’ 26-yard touchdown run right before halftime. He also ran 16 go routes which brought over safety help and cleared out room for the offense to work underneath.
There’s no need to panic over the lack of production as #14 was blanketed by top-5 CB Vontae Davis and Taylor didn’t force it his way during a second half that was more about playing keep away than anything else.Watkins is good enough however that Greg Roman will need to try to get him more involved in the upcoming weeks. He also played the most snaps out of any wide receiver as he was on the field for 50 of 59 offensive plays. Grade: C+
Cordy Glenn: The veteran left tackle was solid in pass protection but struggled more in the running game. Glenn was called for two holding penalties and ranked among the lowest in the league for run blocking. He also gave up one QB hurry. Grade: C
John Miller: You didn’t hear Miller’s name called a whole lot as the rookie blocked well for the running backs with three attempts ran directly behind him for 26 yards. As expected though he struggled more in pass protection and let up two QB hurries and one hit. Overall it was a passable performance from Miller. Grade: C-