Saturday, August 18, 2012
Observation deck: Bills-Vikings
By James Walker
The Buffalo Bills played their second preseason game Friday night against the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota won the game, 36-14.
Here are some notes and observations:
What I liked: Buffalo's got plenty of plays from their "other" wide receivers. No. 1 receiver Steve Johnson had just one catch for seven yards. But the big question is who will step up after Johnson? Several receivers made their case against Minnesota, including third-round pick T.J. Graham. The rookie led the Bills with 69 yards, including a nice 64-yard catch where Graham showed his speed. Donald Jones also had a 31-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the second quarter, and Naaman Roosevelt led Buffalo with six receptions. The receiver group showed improvement against the Vikings.
What I didn't like: I don't like the slow starts from Buffalo. This is a group that is much improved on paper and wants to compete for the playoffs. However, the early returns from the starters have not been stellar. Vikings second-year quarterback Christian Ponder had his way with Buffalo's first-team defense. Ponder carved up the Bills and was 10-of-13 for 136 yards and a touchdown. Minnesota led 10-0 after the first quarter, and Buffalo's offense didn't do much until the second quarter. It's only the preseason, but Buffalo needs to begin developing a more aggressive, winning mindset. The Bills can't assume they can just turn it on against the New York Jets in Week 1.
Young moving head: Vince Young had an important and solid performance against Minnesota that most likely moved him ahead in the race to be the No. 2 quarterback. Young led all Bills quarterbacks by going 8-of-14 for 123 yards. His counterpart, Tyler Thigpen, was 8-of-15 for 56 yards and an interception. The Bills probably will keep just one of these players and make Brad Smith the third quarterback.
Sacks for DTs: The best part of Buffalo's starting defense Friday was its two tackles. Both Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus recorded sacks with the first-team. This pair will be important in getting a push up front against the run and pass. Williams and Dareus showed a glimpse of what they can do together against Minnesota.
What's next: The Bills will return to Ralph Wilson Stadium next week to face the Pittsburgh Steelers. It will be an important, third preseason game for both teams to get ready for the regular season.