5 Observations about the Buffalo Bills: It's Not All Bad - Really!
The NFL's regular season is one-quarter complete - rejoice, Buffalo! - and the Bills are where many expected with a 1-3 season. This figured to be a long and difficult season while the Bills continued retooling their roster after reaching the postseason last year.
Here are five observations of the Bills after four games:
Wideouts are worst in the NFL. Sean McDermott was running the draft when the Bills traded up to get Zay Jones in the second round in 2017, and Brandon Beane was overseeing the roster when they traded for Kelvin Benjamin with Buffalo in playoff contention.
Jones has 10 catches for 144 yards this season. Seven receptions have come in the fourth quarter, garbage time, with each of the four games all but decided by halftime. It also explains why nine of his 10 catches have come in losses. He has one catch on third down this season.
To think, he’s the most productive receiver on the roster.
Benjamin has seven catches for 92 yards while getting targeted 21 times this season. He’s averaging 30.9 yards receiving per game in 10 contests since the Bills acquired him last season from the Panthers. He averaged 60.6 yards per game in 40 contests with Carolina.
This could be the worst 1-2 receiver tandem in franchise history. Neither should be back next season.
Buffalo’s win over Minnesota was a mirage. The Bills had everything go their way in the first 10 minutes against the Vikings, turning a 7-0 lead into a 17-0 lead and eventually a 27-0 lead.
In the history of the franchise, Minnesota had never been spanked so hard in the first quarter. That’s how upsets are made. Buffalo was a 17-point underdog going into the game. If the two teams played again, the spread would be roughly the same.
If the Bills don’t catch a break on their first drive, and wind up marching down the field for a touchdown rather than punt, they easily could be 0-4 through four games. Instead, they caught the Vikings napping, scored first, forced a couple turnovers and ran away with it.
Josh Allen has much work ahead. The rookie looked good in his first here NFL games, but he was playing in optimal conditions each time. The fourth game was a more accurate measuring stick.
Allen entered the first game with the Bills getting pummeled, 40-0, after Nathan Peterman started and melted down – again. The Bills were down 28 points against the Chargers in the first half, and Allen played better in the second. He needed to throw four times in the final two quarters in Minnesota.
In other words, either the opposing team or the Bills were winning by a considerable margin going into the second half. The Packers were winning, 16-0, and in command, but the game was close enough for them to unleash their pass rush.
Green Bay effectively increased the tempo and rattled the young quarterback at Lambeau Field. He was 5 of 19 for 58 yards when the game was still competitive. The Packers turned a 13-0 into a 22-0 shutout, a humbling experience for Allen.
Allen has completed 53.4 percent of his passes for 666 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. He has a 63.8 passer rating, slightly worse than Blaine Gabbert (68.9) and slight better than Tyrod Taylor (63.7). Allen is second among rookies, however, behind Sam Darnold (72.6).
Tremaine Edmunds is a future star. Add the rookie middle linebacker to the long list of players who had a shaky start. He’s progressing faster than Allen, in part because he can read and react.
Still, as the quarterbacks of the defense, he has been able to handle added responsibilities. He’s fast, athletic and long and continued to make himself visible on defense. He leads the Bills with 30 tackles, fourth among NFL rookies, and had a a sack in four games. It's string production for any middle 'backer.
Edmunds is a freak athlete at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds. He should improve with age. Remember, he’s only 20 years old and still growing. He’s going to get stronger and faster. Someday, we could be talking about the best middle linebacker in the NFL.
LeSean McCoy belongs somewhere else. McCoy was the Bills’ best player after coming to Buffalo in a trade from Philadelphia. He had exactly 3,300 yards rushing in his first three seasons with the Bills and surpassed the 10,000-yard mark for his career last season.
Now 30 years old, McCoy has 85 yards rushing this season. He missed the Bills’ only win with a rib injury. The drop in production is not all his fault. He’s playing with a terrible offensive line and a rookie quarterback whose receiver are well below standard (see above).
He’s averaging 4 yards per carry this season, same as last year, but the Bills aren’t going anywhere with him or without him. With one season left on a five-year contract worth $41 million, he would be better served playing for a contender.