On Saturday afternoon the Buffalo Bills hosted the New York Giants in the first official football game at New Era Field. The second Bills preseason match up featured a rematch of 2015’s week 4 loss, except this time the only NFL franchise that actually plays in New York got some revenge with a 21-0 shutout.
Both sides of the ball were clicking for the home team as each unit made numerous big plays throughout the contest. From the first team offense looking sharp to another Williams stepping up at running back, here are 6 takeaways from the Bills offense in its second preseason game:
LeSean McCoy started off the game with a steady four yard run up the middle but was blown up in the backfield by a corner blitz on his very next carry. Buffalo’s starting running back finished with a pedestrian four rushes for zero yards but it was through the air where Shady made an impact.
McCoy worked well with Tyrod Taylor to find open spots in the defense for easy but effective receptions. After a productive five yard catch, #25 blew by a couple of Giants defenders’ on a short pass and run of 23-yards over the middle. His trademark speed and elusiveness were on full display.
LeSean topped his night off with a highlight-reel touchdown grab from Taylor on a pass that was thrown high and outside where only he could catch it. He finished with four receptions on four targets for 58 yards and the score. Seeing as McCoy only caught 32 balls in 2015, it would be nice to see the Bills utilize his talents through the air more often.
Tyrod Taylor back at it again with the big plays
Last season Tyrod Taylor was an elite big play threat and on Saturday he was back at it again with this 59-yard bomb to Charles Clay in the first quarter. On that play the elusive quarterback was able to spin away from an untouched blitzing defender, keep his eyes down field and hit his tight end on the money with a ball that traveled over 55 yards in the air.
While that drive resulted in a Jerome Felton fumble, it was the beginning of an excellent performance for the Bills signal caller. Taylor showed good poise in the pocket early as he lets plays develop and hit McCoy out of the backfield for easy passes that resulted in big gains. He then placed a pass perfectly in Reggie Bush’s hands along the sidelines for what would have been 33-yard gain had the running back not bobbled the ball out of bounds.
T-Mobile also showed off his accuracy on a throw to Marquise Goodwin in which he rolled out to the right and put the ball low and away where only Flash could reach it. Tyrod capped off the drive by channeling his inner Brett Farve and hitting McCoy for a 13-yard score on what I like to call a “playmakers throw”. Nothing was open for #5 so he just threw the ball high and outside where only Shady could reach and the running back hauled it in for the touchdown.
The only really blemishes were going 3 and out on the very first possession of the afternoon, not getting enough zip on a sideline out to Goodwin and leading Robert Woods too much on another sideline throw. Besides that Taylor had a great showing on Saturday and finished 7-10 passing for 132 yards, one score and a QB rating of 145.8.
Next Williams up
With the shocking release of running back Karlos Williams all eyes were on Buffalo’s backfield on Saturday to see who will step up and seize the opportunity. Mike Gillislee started off with a strong run before exiting with an undisclosed injury, leaving rookie Jonathan Williams with more playing time.
The fifth-round pick took advantage and showed off good burst in the hole as he sprung for a 12-yard run in the first half. In the red zone, Williams picked up a key third and short on a terrific second effort to move the chains. He was then rewarded with a a goal line carry and took it over the top for the touchdown. The rookie only finished with 17 total rushing yards on 8 carries, but as the game wore on he found other ways to contribute.
Williams caught two passes for 11 yards including a six yard gain in which he made the initial defender miss and nearly picked up the first down. His hands looked solid and was smooth coming out of the backfield in what was the second straight solid performance from the first-year player.
Cyrus up and down
Third-year offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio had an up and down performance in the Bills preseason game against the Giants. He looked good maintaining solid pass protection on at least four plays where he kept his side of the pocket clean and the defender completely at bay.
Kouandjio then struggled when he was beat on an inside move by Olivier Vernon which resulted in a sack on E.J. Manuel. He was also called for a face-mask earlier in the game. Filling in for Cordy Glenn, Cyrus has greatly improved from his first couple years in the league but he still has some work to do.
Marquise Goodwin distancing himself?
Flash has been making plays all training camp and that continued on Saturday. He made a few nice grabs on the night as he continues to use his speed to get separation from defenders. Goodwin started with an easy catch from Tyrod and then later made a tough diving grab on a low pass from his quarterback along the sidelines.
Goodwin’s third and final reception was on a slant pattern from E.J. Manuel. When he’s healthy, he makes plays and as of now Marquise is seemingly starting to distance himself in Buffalo’s wide receiver competition. He finished with three catches on four targets for 36 yards.
WR battle heating up
While Goodwin appears to be slightly ahead for the Bills third wide receiver spot, there is an intense battle being waged right behind him between Greg Little, Walter Powell, Dez Lewis and company.
Little had his best showing of the preseason as he made a couple impressive plays and finished with three catches on six targets for 35 yards including a 15-yard touchdown from Manuel. He could have had more too as E.J. under threw the receiver on a deep ball where he had a couple steps on the corner and on another well-defended play in the end zone where he couldn’t quite make the play.
Powell is a versatile player that also returns punts and had another productive performance through the air, totaling three receptions on four targets for 46 yards. Second-year receiver Dez Lewis also showed up with a nice 21-yard catch along the sidelines to keep his name in the conversation.