The Buffalo Bills suffered a 21-16 loss to the Washington Redskins on Friday night.
Although the Redskins mostly played their starters for the entire first half, Buffalo did not. It was the second-string that the Bills relied on the entire game.
There were many promising things to take away from the game as a Bills fan:
Lorenzo Alexander and Corey White
These two have proven to be pure football players. Alexander dominated the entire game, including getting the most of solid OT Trent Williams. He had a sack taken away on a bad roughing the passer call. Coaches already know his special teams prowess. Alexander dominates on that phase of game and originally was signed to do so. However, with his ability to get off the edge, he will be playing a good amount on defense. Corey White has shown the ability to start when called upon. He had four pass breakups last game and started this game with one as well, that turned into an interception. White played a near perfect game and locks himself into the Bills solid five-man rotation. Add in Sterling Moore and the Bills have one of the best six-man CB rooms in the entire NFL.
The Bills have depth. Today proved it. During the first four drives (well into the 2nd quarter), the Redskins were held to just 43 yards. The second-string defensive unit proved to be able to play with a the starters of a former playoff team. The team spent a bit too much time on defense and finally got gassed. If it wasn’t for a bad Nick O’Leary fumble late in the first half, the score would have been 14-9 at halftime, maybe even 14-14 if the Bills had a longer two-minute drill. Alexander, White, Worthy, Douzable, Bush, Powell, Mills, Little, Salas and Annen were all finds by GM Doug Whaley at different points in the last 12 months. These were players that were castaways of old rosters but are now essentially locks for the final 53-man roster. Add in Biermann, Spikes, Hawthorne, Moore and Anderson to the mix as well to complete the puzzle. The Bills have put together a solid core of players to add to the last few years of drafted players and potential UDFAs such as Bryson Albright, Marquis Lucas, Eric Striker, and Glenn Gronkowski.
The back-up QB of the Bills, who so many still hold closely to their hearts, has seemed to finally show some signs of development. Although he still will miss throws, he has shown some pocket awareness and the ability to step up in the pocket and run. Manuel looked comfortable in the pocket as well. “I thought he played really well and if we can protect him we would be in business,” said Rex Ryan. “That’s unfortunate. We’ve got to do a better job in protection. But I thought he played really well and he’s done that. I told you guys I feel really good about our quarterback situation including EJ.” Manuel lead the Bills on a 29-second drive that ended with a field goal at the end of the half. Manuel also lead the team down to the seven yard line after a great pass to Walt Powell. If it wasn’t for the slightest of arm extension (one that top flight WRs in the NFL get) by Greg Little, Manuel would have completed the comeback. In a league where backup QBs almost certainly play, Manuel is in the top half of pool. There certainly are worse players in the league, like Matt Cassel, who could be backing up Tyrod Taylor.
It is tough to take a ton out of a game in which one team decided to play it’s starters and game plan and one team did not. However, the Bills proved that their backup unit can compete and that they can withstand some injuries as they have already.
The Bills close out the preseason Thursday against Detroit at 7:30 p.m.