Immediate Reactions: Buffalo Bills 14, Tennessee Titans 13

Immediate Reactions: Buffalo Bills 14, Tennessee Titans 13

First off, sorry about the lack of Bills rap. Voice still hasn’t returned to non-crackable form from two weeks ago. Should have something for Cincinnati. Thanks for your patience.

— Gutsy gutsy game from Tyrod Taylor. He was still too inaccurate over the course of the game, but he made plays “when it counted” and used his athleticism when his arm wasn’t always there. It was there once, and ’twas a beaut: the long pass to Chris Hogan.

— Stephon Gilmore and Marcell Dareus on that Titans’ last play were magic. That was the sort of chance at a pick you expect at least once from a rookie quarterback, as a stumbling Gilmore recovered to pick off the pass. That it happened on the last play is just the cherry on top. Gilmore, aside from the third down pass interference call, has been near perfect this year. We’re talking Pro Bowl good.

— At some point, football will only survive because of gambling and drinking, and the league knows it. With the start-stop flow of game play and the arbitrary system of penalties — what’s holding? what’s roughing? — I’m not sure I’d watch a second of the sport if the Buffalo everloving Bills did not exist in our town.

— Tennessee? Robert Woods is the only 10 I see, and only on replays. Buffalo’s skill position players really struggled. That’s partly a function of a misfiring quarterback, but something tells me this game goes a little easier with Sammy Watkins and McCoy in the fold

The big question: What in the world was that call on Corey Graham, unless a makeup for the legit non-horse-collar call on Mariota?

The bigger question: Can this offensive line start to open up running lanes? Because the Bills backs are going to need a lot of room.

Three stars…

1. Chris Hogan
2. Corey Graham
3. Taylor

Three things that troubled me…

1. Seantrell Henderson
2. Referees’ grasp of the game.
3. The trio of unobservant broadcasters. We can see it, too. You’re the experts. The Mariota/Taylor horse collar difference was about as easy to see as anything going. Brutal. I know Tasker tries hard not to be a Buffalo homer, but what’s the excuse for the other two in the booth? And the “offside” call on the opening kickoff? Kinda brutal.

Game ball(s)…

Taylor gets it again. Not because he was especially good, or that anyone else was to blame for the first half struggles, but the Bills were without two of their biggest threats — three if you count Karlos Williams — and Taylor found a way to make it work despite some clear trouble for his already hobbled ankle. Troubled that he didn’t find Charles Clay more, but 3-2 is 3-2.

Lastly…

Go Bills?

Next week…

Here come the Bengals. The Bills are 1-2 at home, and still won’t have LeSean McCoy. Considering that the trip to London to play Jacksonville is an absolute wild card, they really would do themselves well to beat a good Cincinnati team by any means necessary. Ground and pound. Prevent defense. Whatever. Because even though I’d favor the Bills over the Jaguars nine times out of 10, there’s still a trans-Atlantic flight and the wild grass of Wembley.

Anyway, next week: Buffalo 23, Cincinnati 17.

Email: nick@fcbuffalo.org

Follow @NicholasMendola

7 Responses to Immediate Reactions: Buffalo Bills 14, Tennessee Titans 13

  1. Nick,

    Are the scare quotes around the word “offside” intended to indicate that you believe that the refs got this call wrong, or? Sorry, I didn’t see any replays of this and just assumed the call was legit.

    John

  2. Tyrod had his first true stinker and the Bills eked out a game they probably didn’t deserve. Meh.

    I’m not feeling confident about this team any longer, I’m fine with Tyrod starting but his limitations are evident now (hasn’t grasped multiple reads well, struggles looking down field). I think they’re once again stuck in the muck with the middle of the league. The positive is the AFC wild card race is looking very wide open. Odds are 9 wins gets in this year.

    I don’t watch the NFL live anymore except for Redzone, and watching replays that take about 45 mins for me to watch an entire game. The product absolutely sucks. Far far too many ads and downtime. Strategy has been largely stripped from the game.

    • Agree. It was Tyrod’s worse game (passing) by far.

      But, for some, it was fun to watch! Fun, yes, if you consider the playing style of Mike Vick, or RG3, etc…fun. How well did those type of QB’s, and their teams, ultimately succeed with their style of “fun”?

      I still haven’t given up on Tyrod, but he must start to show some major improvement as a passer. This run around and bombs away approach is not a good system, formula, plan, for modern NFL football. It will win you
      some games, but not often against the better teams.

      My mind (and prediction) has not changed. This still looks like an 8-8 type of team. For me, this was not a fun game to watch, at all.

      I need Tyrod to be much more than our new (fun!) toy.

  3. Well, a win is a win is a win.

    But I can’t imagine how Bills fans could take much solace in this victory. The Titans were, for the vast majority of the game, the better team. The Bills could not run the ball – RB’s had 50 yards on 20 carries. Tyrod Taylor threw for 82 yards. But, he nearly single-handedly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with…da feet.

    This game basically came down to a few big plays in the fourth quarter. That’s it. And, as I’ve said before, relying on big plays in a risky way to play football. And, anyway, it shouldn’t come down to big plays against a supposedly inferior opponent.

    Opening kickoff: Titans fumble! But, a probable touchdown is negated by a, wait for it, a penalty. Titans dominated first half in time, field position, and yardage. But, partly due to absurdly timid coaching, they only had 3 points to show.

    Bills defense bent, but didn’t break. Gilmore played a very good first half (and game) except for being burnt for a TD, if Mariota doesn’t under throw his wide-open receiver.

    Bills offense was horrible. Even worse than last week, unbelievably. The O-line is still not good. Tyrod did not look comfortable with what he saw (or didn’t see), the Titans contained him well, and the Bills could do nothing. Noth. Ing. Taylor is clearly banged-up a bit. Still, he showed guts in crunch time.

    Second half, more of the same until – the new guy fumbles a punt return. Titans cash in for a TD. Bills offense then, FINALLY, comes alive, thanks to Tyrod. He could do nothing throwing the ball, so instead he uses his legs on one drive. Once on a broken play, another on a designed run, and gets to the endzone. Nice.

    Then, the big plays that truly won the game.

    -Bills are backed-up on their own goal line, facing 3rd and 23. And somehow, inexplicably, the Titans allow Tyrod to run for the first down. With more yards added for a horse-collar tackle, which was iffy. “Below, On, Above” the Numbers? Um, okay. Call me crazy, but a horse-collar should involve tackling by the “collar”, no?

    -Then, a nice bomb to Hogan. It leads to a TD to Hogan a few plays later.

    That’s it. Two plays. The Bills hang on late, and win.

    It’s encouraging to see Tyrod make those plays, of course. He was the difference maker I hoped he could be when all else fails. But, if he has to play like that, without developing as a true passer, he is going to get seriously injured eventually. Tyrod’s playing style today (which seems to make Rex and some homers giddy) is not sustainable, nor ultimately successful, in the modern NFL.

    As good as it feels to some, this was another step BACK for Tyrod.

    Over all, this type of Bills offense is not going to scare anyone. Three of the last four games they have looked terrible – especially early. They must improve, show more consistency, and not pray for big plays to bail them out. Getting Sammy back will help, naturally. They miss him. Especially the other wideouts, who look quite average in his absence.

    Bottom line: The Titans were one of the worst teams in football last year, and it took a mighty struggle for the Bills to beat them. They were more lucky than good.

    One expects that it will take more than luck versus Cincy next week.

  4. And speaking of toys (as I was)…

    Everyone knows (from parents to children alike) that the thing about toys is this: They get broken. Whether from mishandling or misuse, whether intentionally or not, they eventually break.

    So now, Tyrod Taylor is broken.

    Irreparably? Certainly not. But, perhaps, chronically? Only time will tell. If he cannot develop into a pocket passer and thus better avoid the chance for serious injury, the odds are greatly against him remaining healthy. Nothing is guaranteed, of course. Even immobile QB’s get hurt.

    So, of course, this unfortunate occurrence was inevitable. We all knew it was coming. Some cared, others didn’t. Some said, run him more! (Bucky G. and Tyler D. at the News, do you recognize my remark?) The object is to win games. That’s what this season is all about, some say. Now, unless anyone seriously thought that this 2015 Bills team was a legitimate Super Bowl contender, then…

    I beg to differ.

    For me, this season was ALL about whether or not Tyrod Taylor could develop into a true “franchise” QB. That is, could he stand in the pocket, read a defense, and make accurate throws on a consistent basis. Because, last time I checked, the modern NFL demands such attributes from its championship level signal-callers.

    Brady, Rodgers, Peyton, Wilson, Eli, etc.

    Does running help? You betcha. It’s a great bonus to have a QB who can use his feet when necessary. But not, I repeat, but not exclusively. As a complimentary skill, it’s nice. But not as your only or best option.

    Thus far, Tyrod Taylor has still not even come close to proving that he can be a true franchise QB. And now, sadly, his possible development will be delayed. It’s too bad because the kid showed big time guts. Brass Cajones – as our old friend Perry Fewell might say. Tyrod was obviously hurting badly at the end of that game, yet he toughed it out and got his team a victory. Full credit.

    But it was one win. Against a bad team. Was it worth it? If/When he comes back, will it be worth it to have him continue to run, run, run, in hopes of getting a win or two, here and there? For that’s all running QB’s ever get before they get injured again, and miss more time, and eventually exit the league in failure.

    Get healthy, Tyrod, and get back (mostly) in the pocket.

    Meanwhile, here comes EJ Manuel! Sigh.

    But, maybe I’ll finally be proved wrong about EJ, right? Maybe, just maybe, after 4 years in college, and 2+ years in the pros, he will suddenly master the requisite franchise QB skills that he has heretofore failed to consistently display.

    Maybe 7 years is all he needed to develop.

    And, not for nothing, rather than having one Joshua Johnson coming-in off the street, wouldn’t it be nice (great song!) to have one Matty Cassel either starting this week, or at least backing-up Manuel, in case of even further emergency?

    Oh, I forgot, silly me! We do have that 5th round draft pick in 2017 to look forward to. And that is certainly more valuable than an experienced (if mediocre) NFL QB, right Doug Whaley?

    Anyway, I wish EJ well. This game against Cincy is important. A win on Sunday in the (down-year) AFC, with two “easier” games ahead, could see this team at 6-2 and in great position, whenever Tyrod returns – to further develop, one hopes.

    So, Go EJ! Go beat the Bengals, and maybe even actually look good doing it, and thereby accomplish something that I have been begging you, and my beloved Bills, to do for years now…

    Prove me wrong. Shut my big fat mouth.

  5. Don’t forget EJ had 4 years in high school with professional coaching, as well. But, I’ll continuously read how he raw he is.

    I’m whatever on EJ and Cassel, they’re both severely limited and losing most games, but this 2 QB limitation so we can have a kickoff specialist, 7 WRs, 5 RBs, muh special teams… it’s mindnumbingly stupid. Being in the position of needing to sign a QB off the street after ONE QB injury, and hardly an unexpected one with only EJ Manuel as your lone prepared option… terrible, Doug Whaley.

  6. Mindnumbingly stupid it is. Even worse…

    It’s incompetent.

    A word I’ve used frequently to describe Whaley’s performance, especially with the QB position. I’ve stated the case here many times, as you know, so I won’t regurgitate that bad taste all over again.

    But having to possibly rely on Josh Johnson as your starter (as you rightly point out – EJ hasn’t exactly proven to be durable himself) is nearly unforgivable.

    Matt Cassel is not very good. But he was here, was cheap, and was an experienced QB. Trading him for nothing made no sense at the time, and, now Whaley better just hope the chickens don’t come home to fully roost – with an EJ injury on Sunday.

    That is, if EJ starts. Which I feel he must.

    This charade today – with Rex being coy, and Tyrod taking practice snaps, and not being “officially” ruled out, should not fool anyone. There is no way Tyrod Taylor should play this game.

    He’s hurt. His movement is limited, and I just cannot believe that a few more days will miraculously find him game-ready. He should rest, and heal. Especially against a very good Cincy team, with a tough D-line. One more hit on that tender knee, and Tyrod could miss weeks, or the entire season. And, if that should happen…

    Rex Ryan should be fired the next day.

    Play EJ, and see what happens. The odds of winning this game (even with Taylor) are not good. Although, this is one of those weird match-ups that occasionally occurs in the NFL…

    On paper, and in every logical way, it “seems” that Cincy should win this game. Dalton has been great, they are undefeated, the Bills have been pretty bad lately and they are all banged-up, and thus it should be a blowout.

    Which is why my gut wants to say – the Bills are going to win this game somehow. It just has that kinda weird feel to it. I’m not predicting a win for the Bills, but it would not shock me.

    And if they do win – you just know we will have a good old QB Controversy on our hands! See, EJ beat the big bad undefeated Bengals! He is our franchise guy after all! It won’t be true, but it will be fun to watch – adding another show ring to the ongoing circus at OBD.

    And even if they lose, well, go beat the Jags in Londinium, wait to get Tyrod healthy after the bye if you must, and see if you can make a run in the second half of the season. But, above all…

    Get Tyrod healthy. Win or lose, I need to see him play as much as possible.