The Bills aren’t going to win many games until their quarterback situation takes shape, so their injury problems at that position stand out as the biggest concern to rise from Saturday’s game. It certainly isn’t the only concern. Another area of concern throughout this preseason has been the Bills’ secondary, which like the quarterback position, suffered from poor play and injuries during Saturday’s contest.
Even with the Redskins’ top two quarterbacks out Saturday due to injury, the Bills surrendered 244 passing yards on just 18 completions.
The Bills gave up five passing plays of more than 20 yards in Saturday’s game. Strong safety Da’Norris Searcy was beaten on a crossing route by Santana Moss on which free safety Aaron Williams also failed to make a play, and Moss went for 45 yards. Williams was playing up and out of position on a 31-yard deep ball caught by tight end Fred Davis near the left sideline. Cornerback Justin Rogers got beat up the seam by Dezmon Briscoe for a 25-yard catch-and-run. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin got exposed in off coverage for a 21-yard play on a post route by Aldrick Robinson.
Additionally, the Bills need to get their defensive backs working on catching the football during the upcoming week of practices. On each of the Bills’ first two drives, a Bills cornerback — first Ron Brooks, next Stephon Gilmore — dropped an interception right out of his hands. Each of those drives subsequently resulted in points for the Redskins, while the Bills finished the day without a single takeaway.
No. 1 cornerback Gilmore may have been the best player in the Bills’ secondary today, but even he had a very rough day. In addition to his dropped interception, he was beaten on a 7-yard slant for a Pierre Garcon touchdown catch, and left the game early due to a wrist injury. Searcy, whose struggles continued as he remained in Jairus Byrd’s place as the starting free safety, also left the game early due to a head injury.
The Bills’ secondary has been shaky throughout the preseason, and no one expected to be in the starting lineup played well on Saturday. Searcy and Williams’ struggles showed just how badly the Bills need Byrd back in the lineup when the regular season begins.
Leodis McKelvin provided some stability to the lineup with his return to the starting lineup Saturday, but he did give up a few significant receptions by playing too far off his opponent in coverage. Brooks’ performance continued to be up-and-down, and has been characterized by missed opportunity throughout the preseason.
Undrafted rookie Nickell Robey may be at increased jeopardy of losing his roster spot after Saturday’s performance. He twice decided to field a punt inside the 10-yard line, and he muffed one of those punts for a fumble recovered by the Redskins at the 5-yard line. He continued to be less than stellar in coverage.
Like McKelvin, Saturday marked Rogers’ return to the field for his debut in this year’s preseason, and he was also subpar, giving up some significant receptions. The most impressive of any of the top six cornerbacks continued to be Crezdon Butler, who saw all of his work with the second-team defense but continued to provide strong deep coverage.
The Bills did have two bright spots in their secondary Saturday in their two rookie safeties, Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks.
Duke Williams stood out in the second half, making plays all over the field. He twice made big tackles behind the line of scrimmage with successful blitzes, and he was the Bills’ leading tackler with eight total tackles on Saturday. Meeks was also active on the back end and did not give up any big plays, while he also forced a fumble (which defensive tackle Jay Ross should have recovered, but Ross failed to secure the ball in the pile).
Tags: Aaron Williams, Arthur Moats, C.J. Spiller, Chris White, Colin Brown, Da'Norris Searcy, Duke Williams, Game Reviews, Injuries, Jamaal Westerman, Jeff Tuel, Jonathan Meeks, Kevin Kolb, Leodis McKelvin, Marcell Dareus, Nickell Robey, Preseason, Preseason Takeaways, Ron Brooks, Shawn Powell, Stephon Gilmore, Stevie Johnson, Washington Redskins, Week 3