The Buffalo Bills played an excellent 28 minutes of football before deciding their preseason was basically over. The Bills scored the game’s first 16 points, before utter sloppiness took over and the Detroit Lions scored four unanswered touchdowns and eventually won, 28-23 in a game the Bills clearly didn’t care about winning.
If you think Chan Gailey put any real emphasis on the scoreboard, the Bills were down four points with 16 seconds left and didn’t attempt an onsides kick.
Here are some random notes I jotted down during the game, in no particular order.
♦ I don’t think it’s essentially fair, but if his job was truly on the line tonight, Brian Brohm didn’t do enough to overtake Ryan Fitzpatrick in the Bills No. 2 quarterback battle. Brohm went 7-for-15 passing for 78 yards, including an interception that wasn’t his fault and basically ran for his life every time he dropped back to pass. He did show surprising ability with his feet; rushing for a team-high 34 yards, but his getting pulled with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter in favor of Levi Brown could tell you all you need to know. Brohm has looked pretty good in his last two outings, but my gut tells me Gailey trusts Fitzpatrick’s experience more if all things are equal.
♦ Fortunately for Brohm, his saving grace is that Levi Brown still looks EXTREMELY raw. It’s at least conceivable the Bills could waive Levi Brown with the expectation of him going unclaimed and then assign him to the practice squad. In that scenario, the Bills would keep both Brohm and Fitzpatrick. The way this offensive line looks at times, having three able quarterbacks may not be the worst decision ever.
♦ The Bills starting defense may be struggling early in games, but they continue to make up for it with huge plays. On the third play tonight Drayton Florence stepped in front of a Matthew Stafford pass intended for Calvin Johnson and returned it for a 40-yard touchdown. The starting defense played two drives and shut Detroit off the scoreboard.
♦ Early in the game the Bills showed a couple of 4-3 defensive looks. In that scheme Andra Davis was the middle linebacker with Paul Posluszny and Kawika Mitchell on the outside.
♦ Posluszny looks terrible in pass coverage. He was beaten easily over the middle by Kevin Smith for a 12-yard gain and doesn’t look quick when he drops back into coverage. I expect him to be a major factor against the run when the games start counting next week, but he really needs to improve against the pass.
♦ Cornell Green didn’t play for Buffalo, the only starter not on the field for the opening snap. Jamon Meredith took his spot. Meredith made a fantastic block on the long pass play (listed in next bullet) that allowed Trent Edwards to get the ball off, but he did struggle on a few other plays.
♦ Lee Evans made an incredible catch over Jonathan Wade for 56 yards on the Bills second offensive play of the game on a bomb from Edwards. Those types of plays are the type the Bills offense will have to take chances on—and succeed to stay competitive against the better teams once the regular season starts.
♦ Edwards looked good again in brief action, completing all four of his passes for 66 yards. Besides the long connection with Evans, he also threw a bullet to David Nelson over the middle for a first down. He’s looked as good this preseason as I’ve ever seen him. In fact, to this point the only complaint I can muster concerning him is the repulsive sideburns he’s sporting.
♦ Marshawn Lynch got some early action, rushing five times for just two yards and a pass for another two yards. Understandably, he looked rusty and a tad hesitant after missing three weeks with a bad ankle, so you can’t really read anything into this game.
♦ J.P. Foschi may want to thank his lucky stars the Bills are so thin at tight end, because he’s done absolutely nothing over the past few weeks to show he belongs on the roster. Foschi dropped a pair of first half passes, including one from Brohm that deflected into the diving arms of former Bills linebacker Ashlee Palmer for an interception that led to Detroit’s touchdown at the end of the half. I wouldn’t even be shocked if the Bills waive him and search for another body on the waiver wire over the weekend.
♦ John McCargo has looked good this summer but remained a long shot to make the roster. If he was on the fringe entering this game, he didn’t do himself any favors late in the second quarter. He has an offsides penalty inside his own five yard line and two plays later was knocked to the ground on a short touchdown run by Jerome Felton. He’s likely to be looking for work by late Saturday afternoon.
♦ I have been a huge fan of rookie Arthur Moats all summer long. But if he was locked in an even battle with Keith Ellison for a backup roster spot, he very well may have played himself out of it with a brutal second half. Moats missed tackles and looked terrible in multiple instances with pass coverage.
♦ I still don’t think James Hardy is going to be on this opening day roster, but he showed nice concentration on the 65-yard touchdown catch that was called back on a phantom holding call against Jason Watkins. He also demonstrated a couple of reasons on why his agent may be making a lot of phone calls this weekend.
♦ One reason Hardy could be looking for work is because of Chad Jackson. He wrapped up a solid summer with a team-high five catches for 59 yards against the Lions.
♦ Rian Lindell sure looked in perfect form; nailing 41, 47 and 50-yard field goals in the first half. None were even close to missing.
♦ Assuming the Bills keep four running backs, it clearly looks Chad Simpson will get the nod over Joique Bell.
♦ I don’t know if bodes well or bad for him, but reserve tackle Kirk Chambers played from the second series all the way through the end of the game. I feel for Gailey when it comes to having to find two, possibly three reserve linemen to fill out the roster after the starting five and Meredith.
♦ On a personal note, I really hope Naaman Roosevelt makes this team. I’ve been watching him play and covering him since he was at St. Joes. I’m not sure what Chan Gailey is thinking but it would certainly qualify as a “feel good” story. He caught eight passes during the preseason and did a decent job returning punts. I think it comes down to a numbers game and by that, I mean how many receivers the head coach plans on keeping. Roosevelt needs that number to be six to have a chance.