You knew it would happen sooner or later. The Buffalo Bills went into Cincinnati hoping their defense would keep them in the game, which they did. However, the offense failed to deliver and the Bills dropped an important AFC contest 20-16 in the pouring rain.
But perhaps the biggest loss of all on Sunday was when Charles Clay went down with what appeared to be a significant knee injury. Clay, the only player left on offense who Tyrod Taylor trusts to stretch the field, was carted off the sideline to the locker room. Hopefully there will be an update on his status soon.
If the injury is to the same bad knee Clay’s been nursing along since training camp, one has to wonder if this is the beginning of the end of Clay’s football career. Anytime a player has to have pre-planned rest days and their knee drained multiple times during a season, there’s reason to worry.
To make matters worse, Nick O’Leary, whose dependable bare hands were a welcome sight also suffered an injury as well. Without Jordan Matthews and Charles Clay, the Bills passing game is clearly on life support at the moment.
However, the defense showed why it remains one of the best in the NFL after safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer added to their impressive collection of interceptions so far this season.
The bye week for Buffalo is coming at a time when they desperately need to regroup on offense. LeSean McCoy’s pedestrian numbers reveal the disrespect opponents are showing toward the Bills’ passing game.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest areas of concern, and then (of course:) follow up with some reasons for optimism as we head into the bye week.
Areas of concern
- Charles Clay or lack of Charles Clay. Nuff said.
- When a wide receiver group consists of Andre Holmes, Zay Jones, Kaelin Clay and Brandon Tate, there’s a good chance opponents won’t be losing sleep over defending against this group.
- If Nick O’Leary misses any time, the Bills will need to scour the waiver wire and practice squads to find someone to take his place. Logan Thomas has promise but switching from QB to TE is a challenge.
- What’s wrong with John Miller? Is he simply unable to pick up Juan Castillo’s zone scheme? Why is Ducasse playing in Miller’s place when the Bills signed Ryan Groy to an extension… so Groy can sit on the bench???
- Will Cordy Glenn ever be able to return on a consistent basis? If Dion Dawkins is the future at LT, then why not move Glenn to RT if he’s ever healthy enough to be counted on? The right side of the offensive line is a mess.
- For the record (again)… I’m not convinced the change in scheme for the offensive line was a good move.
- LeSean McCoy and the running game will not be able to succeed as long as opponents have ZERO fear of the Bills’ passing game.
- Tyrod Taylor’s vision or lack thereof… I saw one occasion where Zay Jones was wide open and Taylor would have had a good chance to complete the pass but didn’t see him.
- Taylor’s inability to sense trouble around him when opponents are closing in on him.
- Taylor’s inconsistency regarding accuracy throwing the ball. He can drop a 50 yard pass on a dime but having the right touch on shorter passes still eludes him.
- The drop-off from cornerbacks E.J. Gaines to Shareece Wright is steep.
- Bills need an upgrade at the nickel corner position. Leonard Johnson seems to get burned on a regular basis.
Reasons for optimism
- Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde are arguably the best tandem of safeties in the NFL at the moment. Let’s hope they remain healthy for the entire season.
- Despite losing LB Ramon Humber, Matt Milano didn’t embarrass himself or the Bills’ defense on Sunday.
- CB Tre’Davious White showed once again how to bounce back from defeat. After getting roasted by AJ Green on the first drive of the game, he came back and performed admirably the rest of the game.
- Stephen Hauschka is the bomb. The guy looks like he never gets rattled. His play will only grow more important as the weather changes.
- LT Dion Dawkins got burned a few times on Sunday but overall Dawkins is showing why McDermott, Dennison and Castillo have faith in him.
- Despite the anemic performance on offense, the defense never quit.
- The team is well coached as evidenced by their calm demeanor under pressure and significant drop in penalties.
- Watching Sean McDermott lose it on the sidelines shows his passion for the game. He’s very measured under most circumstances but when he loses it, you get to see just how much this team means to him.
- Leslie Frazier is a consummate defensive coordinator. I wanted him to be hired as the Bills’ head coach when they hired Richard Jauron, gasp. The guy (Frazier, of course) has a certain presence about him on top of being a great schemer.
- This team has a bright future. Regardless of whether it happens this year or the next, the Bills are in good hands with ‘McBeane’.
So, the bottom line is you probably shouldn’t get your feathers all ruffled about the loss to Cincinnati. It definitely hurts the AFC conference race, but there is a long way to go. McDermott and Beane will be busy cooking up a strategy during the bye week and moving forward.
There’s a lot more to be learned from failure than from success in most cases. Few folks thought this Bills team would be 3-2 going into the bye week. They play as a team better than their individual talent level on the field might indicate. That’s a sign of good coaching.
So, my message today is simple. Trust the process during the bye week and let’s see what ‘McBeane’ does next. Smooth or bumpy, remember to enjoy the ride.
Editor’s babble: Thank you for reading our blog. If you can stomach the optimism, you can follow me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.