A few thoughts on the game that capped a historic weekend in Bills history...
Sign of things to come?
Trent Edwards' first series of this season sure ended ended ugly — a gift-wrapped interception to Cortland Finnegan deep in Tennessee territory. But his two hookups with Terrell Owens were encouraging. Both were second-level, in-rhythm throws that require mustard...and confidence. Such downfield assurance was a rarity last season. Edwards can slowly build a swagger back there if Owens keeps getting open.
Because he has a very, very underrated arm. Arm strength had nothing to do with Edwards' tendency to dump the ball off last season. He simply didn't have receivers capable of getting separation consistently. Now he does and he can fire away.
Overall, Buffalo's offense was out of sync. Three and outs aplenty. But it sure was nice to see Owens producing. Maybe hype is finally started to give way to substance. Go figure. The guy plays football too.
When the first-team offense plays extensively this preseason, Edwards and Owens need to keep connecting. It'll keep T.O. happy and the offense rolling into the regular season. Aside from the pick, Buffalo's first audition of the no-huddle offense was a success. More importantly, Edwards is comfortable within it.
"I loved it," Edwards said after the game. "I really liked our tempo. I think we put a lot of pressure on the defense. If you look at that second play where I hit Terrell on the slant, I don't think their defensive line was set. So that's kind of the up-tempo offense we really want to run here. I know our head coach really wants to catch them off balance."
Line's learning curve
Wasn't disastrous — Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick were still standing after the game — but Sunday was a baptism by fire for Buffalo's retooled offensive line. Andy Levitre was uprooted and driven into Edwards on the quarterback's pick. And then, a missed block by Eric Wood forced Fitzpatrick to scramble for no gain on a three-and-out.
As an offense, the Bills rushed for a gagging 2.7 yards per carry. A lot has to do with Tennessee's defense. Even without Albert Haynesworth, the Titans are as disciplined a defense you'll find. But Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson saw nothing but dead ends on their six combined carries.
Blowing up last year's line was a must. But there will be a learning curve. We see this every preseason with revamped lines. A scare here, a scare there. Let's just hope most of the cobwebs were brushed out in Canton. Buffalo can't afford to lose Edwards.
Sign Maybin ASAP
Different season, same story for Buffalo's hapless pass rush. Kerry Collins had enough time to listen to a Rod Woodson Hall of Fame speech in the pocket. The journeyman quarterback completed 7-of-10 passes for 82 yards Sunday, looking midseason sharp the entire time.
The Bills didn't record one sack the entire first half. Paging Maybin, paging Maybin.
Even if Aaron Schobel's foot is completely healed, the Bills need the other Aaron in camp. Now. Because if Kerry Collins is toying with Buffalo's ‘D,' what will Tom Brady and Drew Brees do? Considering those are two of the first three quarterbacks, the Bills face, Maybin needs to report soon. The carnage will be deep — surgical 300-yard incisions.
Whatever is going on in Michael Crabtree's bizarro world shouldn't matter at this point. Pony up dough. Lessen the demands. Whichever way you look at, the Bills and Maybin need to compromise. Buffalo doesn't have the horses defensively to disrupt passing attacks. There's no go-to blitzing linebacker to release like a hound. And expecting Schobel to return to 13-sack form isn't realistic.
Any talent the Bills have brewing in the secondary doesn't matter if the pass rush is nonexistent. And Woodson can talk as long as he wants.
Speaking of Collins…
Boy, he sure shut Vince Young up Sunday, didn't he? The outrageous Hall-of-Fame proclamation Young made earlier in the week sure looked like a cry for help in Canton. Like Matt Leinart in Arizona, Young may simply be competing for the No. 2 job.
Young, that free-spirited stallion prancing around Buffalo defenders like construction cones at The Ralph just three years ago, was horrendous in his first three series. He went 1-of-5 for 13 yards with a pick. When he did pull the ball down to run, he lacked the open-field suave that made him a legend at Texas. Nic Harris easily caught Young from behind on one play.
Give it up to Collins. Couldn't have been easy for the Titans to shell out a two-year, $15 million contract to the 36-year old this offseason. Not with a former third overall pick breathing over his shoulder.
After the Hall of Fame there should be no more questions. Collins is the guy.
Corner gains ground
Hopefully ESPN's Chris Mortensen had the cell on vibrate for that one. Reggie Corner provided the play of the night for Buffalo, picking off Mortensen's son, Alex, and returning it for a touchdown. If nothing else, it suggests Corner needs to be on the field more this season.
Remember, Corner came on strong late last year. He punched the ball out of Brandon Stokely's grasp to clinch Buffalo's upset over Denver and his man coverage skills were very impressive for a rookie. In year two, he should see the field regularly in nickel and dime packages.
Great to see Corner and Leodis McKelvin both get picks. They're guys the defense can build around in a five-year plan. Something tells me the Bills aren't going to miss Jabari Greer much if the defense somehow generates a pass rush.
Stay tuned to BuffaloFootballReport.com for analysis and commentary during the week.
Tyler Dunne is the Publisher of BuffaloFootballReport.com and also writes for the Buffalo News, Olean Times Herald and the Packer Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org