– Matt Haring
It was a sloppy effort from the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday, and resulted in a second home loss of the season, already. Here are 3 observations from the game:
1) Undisciplined, stupid mistakes
Penalties were the elephant in the room for this game, once again. 17 accepted penalties, at home, is nearly a surefire way to accrue yourself a loss, and this is exactly what happened. Taking two touchdowns off the board and proceeding to come away with no points while giving the opposition a touchdown of their own usually ensures you won’t win the football game. This is a continuing problem for the Bills, and will hinder their chances at winning every week if it continues. The most concerning part of the Bills penalty issues is that they’re inevitable and predictable. A report from Dan Graziano of ESPN says that Tom Coughlin told his team before the game Sunday that the Bills would ultimately beat themselves with penalties. They did, of course, and it’s something that Rex Ryan needs to do something about. Penalties are statistically random and deviate week to week, so if an opposing coach can strategize around events such as penalties, there’s a big problem.
2) Foot off the gas pedal
Miraculously, the game was ripe for the taking for the Bills in the 4th quarter. The defense began to wake up and held the Giants off the score board until there were 7 minutes to go, when the Bills had clawed back to within a touchdown. Tyrod Taylor and the offense, finally, began to open things up and found themselves moving the ball down the field rather easily until stalling in promising positons twice. The Taylor scramble called back on a Kraig Urbik hold led to a missed field goal, and a turnover on downs at the goal line prevented the Bills from taking the game by the horns and running with it. After a Karlos Williams touchdown, the game flow sided with the Bills until Nigel Bradham couldn’t wrap up Rashad Jennings on third down, in a play that will live in infamy.
The game could have been the Bills to take control of, but they didn’t execute when they needed to and it cost them mightily. Two promising drives cannot come up empty handed, and Nigel Bradham has to make the open field tackle that would give the Bills the ball back.
3) Blueprint for success?
The NFL is a copycat league, and we saw shades off that from the Giants Sunday afternoon. The Patriots have made their up-tempo, short passing attack famous, especially against this Bills defense. The Giants did many of the same things that New England did two weeks ago on offense, running quick developing out routes to the flat, or slants over the middle. If you’re an opposing offense of a Bills future opponent, why wouldn’t you? It negates the Bills pass rush and offers opportunities to better take advantage of personnel matchups. The Bills couldn’t stop this style of offense against New England and they couldn’t stop it in the first half against the Giants. Unless the Bills can get this rectified, teams should continue trying to beat the Bills in this manner because they haven’t offered much of a counter punch to stop it
On the offensive side of the ball, the things that seem to be working the best for Tyrod Taylor is the same exact thing teams appear to be daring him to do. It’s tougher to gage from the stands at Ralph Wilson Stadium, but teams aren’t giving Tyrod much respect. With this being said, the Bills have moved the ball most efficiently in all four games thus far when Tyrod opens things up. The dinking and dunking works on some level, but in the first half Taylor struggled to find anyone open, and appeared hesitant with his decisions. Alternatively, in the second half the defense appeared to open up quite a bit and Taylor was able to hit some larger chunks of yardage down the field. It’s interesting to observe, seeing as teams dare Taylor to beat them, and he has shown that when he’s willing to open things up it has a direct correlation on the Bills offensive efficiency. Teams probably still will not give Taylor respect, but it would be interesting to see what would happen if Roman and Taylor decided open things up early, similar to the Miami game.
It’s amazing what a year makes for the Titans. Previously a helpless team, they now look respectable under the leadership of Marcus Mariota. Mariota looks very comfortable to start off his career with and 8:2 TD to INT ratio. There are no real terrifying options for Mariota to throw to, however, though Kendall Wright is a rock solid receiver that is really starting to show what he’s capable of with a competent player throwing him the football. On defense, the Titans have a respectable group as well despite giving up 28 and 35 points in their last two games. Jerrell Casey, Brian Orakpo, and Jason McCourty are top level players in all three levels of the Titans defense. As we said last week, this is a game that the Bills have to win if they want to establish themselves as legitimate. Taking on an inferior team on the road neutralizes the talent discrepancy, but the Bills need to find a way to win a road game against a team they should beat. The Bills opened up at 3 point favorites in Las Vegas and offshore books.