Bills 41, Bears 15: Seven Takeaways on Power of Buffalo's Roster

They have a good sense of their roster strength, but starters need work.
Author:
Publish date:

Two of three preseason games are in the books for the Buffalo Bills, who on Saturday destroyed the host Chicago Bears, 41-15, at Soldier Field.

Here are seven instant takeaways from the contest.

Starters need to play

As impressive as many of the backups have played through the first two weeks of the preseason, the starters need to experience some full contact with tackling to the ground and the quarterback being exposed to hits before they start the season.

Hardly hardly any of their top regulars have played, having been limited in their preparation for the 2021 season to training-camp practices.

And even though that approach worked out for the Bills last year, when the NFL canceled the entire preseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic, preseason games are back, and the Bills face the possibility unless they adjust their thinking in next Saturday's preseason finale against Green Bay of beginning the season with their top players having no game experience since last season.

In 2020, that might have been OK because everyone else emerged from training camp with the same restrictions. This year, most teams are giving all their starters some action in the preseason.

Bills coach Sean McDermott remains undecided about next week, but the feeling here is that it would be a good idea if his guys top get knocked around like, say, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been this summer, so they'll be on more equal footing when the teams meet on opening day.

Trubisky was in command

Getting the start against the team that drafted him and then discarded him no doubt motivated Bills quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who eviscerated the Bears for 221 yards on 20-for-28 passing. With Trubisky playing the entire first half, the Bills ran out to a 34-6 lead.

What's more, Trubisky was operating behind a line composed mostly of backups and throwing to a wide receiving corps that did not include Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley or Emmanuel Sanders.

Singletary better than ever

This year's Devin Singletary bears no resemblance to last year. The running back may have taken a step backward last season, but he's taken at least two steps forward this summer, after dedicating himself to an intense offseason regimen to make him stronger, quicker and generally more attentive.

Singletary ran for a spectacular 14-yard TD in the first quarter and caught the only pass thrown his way, breaking a potential fall behind the line of scrimmage with his hand and turning it into a 5-yard gain.

His running and the subsequent efforts of Zack Moss (four carries, 21 yards), Matt Breida (12-yard run, 18-yard reception) and fullback Reggie Gilliam (two touchdown runs) were the surest signs yet that the Bills will be strong on the ground this year.

Rookies bring the heat

If rookie defensive end Gregory Rousseau has any rust in his game after opting out of last season, we sure can't see it. He followed up an impressive preseason debut against Detroit the week before with another sack this week.

The first-round draft pick was trumped only by ... second-round pick Boogie Basham, who plays the same position and finished with a team-high five tackles, including a sack and another for a loss. He also blocked an extra point.

These guys may not start, but they're both going to figure prominently in the rotation.

Fromm or Webb?

Hard to project a winner in the competition for No. 3 quarterback. Jake Fromm and Davis Webb each had their standout moments last week and each had their dubious moments this week.

Fromm held the ball too long while scanning the field from his pocket in the end zone and was taken down for a sack, though he did avoid a safety.

Webb lost a fumble during a fourth-quarter scramble.

Still too close to call.

Mush rush lessons

Being burned by shifty Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields on a couple of scrambles was a valuable learning experience for the defensive line, particularly Basham, who failed to seal off Fields' outside escape route on one play.

When going against a quarterback like Fields, the Bills will need to alter their pass rush. With the two rookies and second-year player A.J. Epenesa expected to be included in the game-day rotation, this adjustment won't be automatic.

Many happy returns

Also still too close to call is the battle for the kick- and punt-return jobs.

Rookie wide receiver Marquez Stevenson returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown. But fifth-year receiver Isaiah McKenzie added a 35-yard punt return to go with team highs of seven receptions and 72 yards.

What could be working in Stevenson's favor, however, is that he can do kickoffs as well — and that McKenzie muffed a return that he was fortunate to recover.

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro. Email to Nicky300@aol.com.