Note: This is preseason. Preseason football is a scam. It is crap. Don't read into it at all. Even folks in the media know it is crap sandwich, but they have to find something to talk about. Just realize I'm blogging about it because preseason football is better than no football and I'm bored. Also, if you think I'm a hypocrite for blogging about something I totally hate and want to shit on me for it, by all means, I have a hat that will shield me from most of the crap. But other than that, this is crap.
CJ Spiller: Whether he wants to have a long career while not carrying the ball 20 times a game or Nate Hackett gets his way in letting the guy barf constantly, CJ Spiller is the main offensive weapon for this team whenever he touches the ball. In fact, he may be the only one that opponents have to worry about. We saw it on his first two carries (32-yards) that whenever the guy gets the ball, you get a feeling he's going to take it to the house. Seriously, I kind of forgot how good he was and then that first carry happened and I was like "Whoa! He's fast as hell!" He's that good and I don't really have anymore superlatives to describe how important he is.
Kiko Alonso: He may not sound like the most astute player in the world when you listen to his interviews, but Alonso makes up for it on the field with his sideline to sideline or north to south pursuit. You saw it on the first drive when he stormed up the middle on a LB blitz on 3rd down and put pressure on Andrew Luck. He showed nice recovery speed on a pass breakup in the back of the end zone for which looked like a sure TD. It is early (Theme for this post), but it would be really nice if the Bills actually got some plays from their LBs.
Under pressure: Because I'm lazy, I'm not exactly sure what the blitz to non-blitz ratio was for the 1st team defense, but it did feel like the Bills were getting tons of pressure and were actually blitzing for a change. I know, this isn't shocking by any stretch from what the diluted camp stories have been, but it was good to finally see some nice defensive alignments with the team going 3-4, 4-3 or just blitzing. You saw that with Mario Williams, who was lined up as an OLB on his sack (As much as I'd like Mario to kill it in order to shove it up Jerry Sullivan's sanctimonious ass, that was more about the tackle not being ready for the snap of the ball than Super Mario's impact).
Flash Goodwin: If you haven't heard Marquise Goodwin speak yet, be sure to run to the WGR website and hear his interview with Schopp and The Bulldog. The kid is a riot. He's also becoming kind of a riot when it comes to his big play ability. He seems to be the training camp hero when it comes to offense from what the media and coaches have said, but I was finally able to see it first hand with his return ability on that 107-yard touchdown return. He almost broke an earlier one (53-yards), but you can just see that this guy brings a ton of speed to the table. Where the hell do the Bills find these returners from? I remember during the 90s, they were awful when it came to the return game (See: Al Edwards and Russell Copeland). Since like 2004, they somehow have found these guys everywhere. McGee, Parrish, McKelvin, Spiller and maybe Goodwin? It is like the Shanahan Denver RB carrousel he used to run. Just throw whoever you want back there and it is all good.
EJ Manuel: I know, it is one game and Stevie Johnson wasn't playing. Also, it is fricken preseason, so, who cares..However, if I'm going to pretend to care, it was a tale of 2 quarters for me. He looked pretty sluggish in the 1st quarter against the Colts 1st team, throwing for just 27 yards and seemed a bit apprehensive with being late on throws, although his 24-yard scamper was fun to watch. I also thought his coordinator should have dialed up a few deeper passes to help him out. Seemed like the Colts were sitting on some of their short routes at that point. For the game, 16 of 21 looks awesome, but when you are only averaging 5.1 yard per attempt, it kind of deludes it a bit.
Now as for the 2nd quarter, he looked solid, especially on the TD drive. He showed nice poise, while patiently working the passing lanes and accounted for 73 yards of the team's 92 yards gained on that drive. If you do the math, Manuel finished with 107 yards passing and almost 3/4's of it came on that final drive.
However, he did this against a combination of 2nd and 3rd teamers and that puts a asterisk next to it for me. It is just hard for me to see a guy progressing if he's going against players who will be bagging groceries by September. I've maintained that status quo for the last 20 years when it comes to August football. So, it isn't about EJ or being negative. This is just my prism of preseason football.
But, in fairness, he was playing with his own backups as well. I would keep elaborating on this, but I got a little beat up on Twitter for "Killing hope" and lost 10 followers. Ah, hope. Hope for the preseason…you have to love it to know that football season is right around the corner when you are arguing with people about meaningless football. We are silly.
Overall, it was pretty much what you'd expect for EJ. I'm not excited or pessimistic based off the performance.
Final word: I stopped watching at halftime, but Twitter told me we scored like 30 2nd half points. Hooray! I think I got annoyed when I saw someone telling me that Aaron Williams was going to be an awesome FS based on his one play he made (He hit someone for the first time in his career). Oh, and I saw someone on the D. Dickerson bandwagon.
Bottom line: One preseason game is down and three more to go…Thank God!