BBD Staff Writer: Joe Marino
The Buffalo Bills cooled off considerably Saturday afternoon with a 30-7 road loss to the Washington Redskins. The third preseason game is generally considered the dress rehearsal for the regular season, and the Bills did not have the showing anyone would have hoped for.
Not only did the Bills have a disappointing showing but they came away from the game with several key injuries. Most notably, star cornerback Stephon Gilmore left the game with a wrist injury and starting safety Da’Norris Searcy left with a head injury. Injury-prone quarterback Kevin Kolb left the game with concussion-like symptoms, leaving undrafted rookie free agent Jeff Tuel as the only healthy quarterback on the roster. The extent of these injuries will be known in the next few days. C.J. Spiller also went down with a knee injury, but was able to return to the game.
In the short time that Kolb was on the field, he continued to show how uncomfortable he is running the Bills offense. His lack of pocket presence/awareness is alarming, and he has no timing down with the wide receivers. He completed two of four passing attempts for 16 yards.
Tuel failed to impress Saturday as well. The offense did not have a first down in the second half, and with sacks factored in, the quarterbacks combined for just three yards per attempt.
In an offensive system predicated on tempo and running a high quantity of plays, the Bills only ran 49 offensive plays while the Redskins ran 81.
Doug Marrone told reporters Saturday night that the Bills will look at adding a veteran quarterback to the roster. Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo reported that the Bills are bringing in Matt Leinart and John Beck for workouts.
Running Backs: D
Outside of Spiller, the Bills showed very little ability to run the football against the Redskins. Spiller had 39 yards on eight carries, but the rest of the group had just 37 yards on 14 carries. On a day that the team was down to its third quarterback, the running backs were unable to carry the load offensively.
Wide Receivers: D
Stevie Johnson made his preseason debut and led the team in catches with four, but lost the ball on one of those receptions for a fumble. T.J. Graham was able to get behind the secondary on two occasions that lead to costly pass interference calls on the defense. Marquise Goodwin beat his man on a vertical route but was unable to haul in the deep catch. Robert Woods was targeted three times and had three catches for 21 yards.
No other receiver had a catch or was targeted in the game. That is surprising considering there are still five players legitimately competing for the last few receiver spots. (Marcus Easley, Brad Smith, Chris Hogan, Da’Rick Rogers, Brandon Kaufman) As a whole, the group averaged less than seven yards per reception.
Tight Ends: F
The tight ends were a non factor in the passing game again on Saturday night. Chris Gragg had two receptions for 13 yards and Dorin Dickerson was targeted once. Those three plays accounted for the entirety of the tight ends’ contributions in the passing game.
Offensive Line: C-
The Bills’ pass protection was solid but the unit was unable to generate any movement in the run game. Offensive tackles Cordy Glenn and Erik Pears were able to hold off the edge rush effectively, but overall, the team averaged just 3.2 yards per play.
The primary concern continues to be on the left guard spot, where neither Colin Brown nor Doug Legursky is claiming the starting job with their on-field performance. Brown was beaten for a sack and gave up another pressure while Legursky failed to impress. A few false start penalties also set the offense back on a couple of occasions.
Defensive Line: D
The Redskins gained 208 yards on the ground Saturday. The Bills defensive line was unable to get any penetration or keep blockers from getting to the linebackers, which provided plenty of running lanes for the Redskins.
Defensive tackle Torell Troup had a particularly bad day. He was consistently blown of the ball and out of position. The former second-round pick does not look like he will make the Bills’ regular-season roster.
Marcell Dareus had a strong performance, including a tackle for loss, but the rest of the defensive line struggled. The Redskins had a lot of success with cutback zone plays, and the defensive line wasn’t up for the challenge Saturday.
The Redskins consistently attacked the defense with edge runs and had their way. The Bills linebackers couldn’t get off blocks, shuffle through traffic or pursue the ballcarrier at all on Saturday.
Kiko Alonso really struggled to disengage from blockers. Nigel Bradham overpursued on a zone cutback play that led to big yardage for the Redskins. Jerry Hughes had a sack, but struggled setting the edge and pursuing as a backside defender. Manny Lawson had one terrific play to set up a tackle for loss by driving his blocker back to set the edge on a run stop behind the line of scrimmage. Overall, however, giving up 452 yards to an offense without their top two quarterbacks is a troubling day for the defense.
Redskins third-string quarterback Rex Grossman and fourth-string quarterback Pat White combined to pass for 244 yards Saturday, and 16 of their 18 completions went for first downs. Searcy’s struggles in coverage continued, as he lost his man on two occasions for big gains. In his first game back from injury, cornerback Justin Rogers struggled to stay with his man. Crezdon Butler, Ron Brooks, Stephon Gilmore and Nickell Robey all had pass breakups, but Brooks’ and Gilmore’s were both dropped interceptions.
Rookie safety Duke Williams, who had eight tackles including two tackles for loss (one sack), saved this group from getting an F. He was frequently around the ball and had a very impressive game.
Dustin Hopkins did not attempt a field goal but made his only extra point attempt of the day and got tremendous depth on his two kickoffs. Punter Shaun Powell had his best showing of the preseason thus far Saturday, averaging 52.8 yards per punt. Powell did have one line drive punt that resulted in a 31-yard punt return.
There was nothing impressive from the kickoff and punt returners Saturday. Robey fielded two punts inside the 10-yard line and muffed one which resulted in a turnover. Brad Smith and Marquise Goodwin combined to average 21 yards on four kickoff returns.