Sometimes you hate being correct.
Looking over the Bengals roster before this game, I not only understood why the team is 5-0, I worried that the Bills would be blown out.
The receiving weapons at Andy Dalton’s disposal would open up the Bills front seven to big runs. At the very least, the Bengals would consistently find yards in clumps.
That’s exactly what happened against E.J. Manuel and a short-handed Buffalo offense. Rex Ryan’s defense was taken apart from the get-go, more or less, and the offense didn’t have enough big play potential, especially once Sammy Watkins went down with another injury, to beat a quality team (even at home).
And when you throw in no sacks, no turnovers and poor tackling (again) from this elite defense… woof.
When it’s all said and done, given the potentially long-term injuries to Kyle Williams and Sammy Watkins, this could very well be a major pivot point on the path to the playoffs.
— Manuel was Manuel, and probably above-average when graded on his own curve. Not as accurate as you need to be average, but not as poor as he’s painted by our quarterback-starved community. The perceived gulf between him and Taylor — at current experience levels — isn’t massive. Throw in the fact by the end of the game his arsenal of receiving weapons was two butter knives and an above-average tight end, and you have a recipe for disaster.
— Lost in any takes about how the Bills defense “wore down” as its offense failed over the course of the game is the truth that Andy Dalton was quite inaccurate in the first half. Had he carried his rich vein of form throughout the first half, this could’ve been even uglier.
— LeSean McCoy was very good for the Bills, heading directly to holes on inside runs and hastening to open field when going outside. Running backs are largely replaceable, but McCoy reminded us that he’s a cut above the rest of the Bills stable of backs.
— Manuel had a miserable third drive, lofting a long pass down the right sideline that may’ve been intended for a large swath of turf, and then being picked on a well-underthrown attempt to Chris Hogan. At this point, it was another sign that he is who we thought he was.
— Chris Gragg played a lot.
— Bacarri Rambo’s ‘coverage’ of Tyler Eifert on the tight end’s touchdown was comically bad, but Stephon Gilmore’s attempt to intercept a long ball to Marvin Jones was under-the-radar poor. Granted I want my lockdown corner to go up and get that, but a knockdown is preferable. In writing this paragraph, I’ve begun to doubt my certainty here. Gilmore’s been consistently solid this year.
— Cincinnati is a legitimate threat to come out of the AFC, and I think — eternal NFL caveat: if their defense stays relatively healthy — the Bengals could be a match-up problem for New England.
The big question: Will Watkins travel to London?
The bigger question: If he doesn’t, do they fly a new player to London to join the team, or just sign a player from the Rugby World Cup?
1. LeSean McCoy
2. Mike Modano
3. Lindy Ruff
Three things that troubled me…
1. Watkins’ and Kyle Williams’ injuries
2. The pass rush’s drop in effectiveness as the game wore on.
3. The seeming inevitably of the loss, at home, to drop to 1-3 at the Ralph.
To London, and then a bye week. They slip by Jacksonville, 20-17, with Tyrod Taylor back at QB. And we get to spend 14 days analyzing the schedule.