Halftime thoughts: Bills vs. Panthers
September, 15, 2013
By Mike Rodak | ESPN.com
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Sharing some halftime thoughts from Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the Buffalo Bills trail the Carolina Panthers 7-3:
- Winnable game: This is the sort of game that the Bills need to win this season. They're not playing well, but neither are the Panthers. At home against a quarterback, Cam Newton, who struggled until the final drive of the half, you need to come away with a win.
- Manuel not his sharpest: It's been an up-and-down game for EJ Manuel, who has made some nice plays, including a 19-yard completion to Robert Woods on a scramble late in the first half. A few plays later, though, Manuel underthrew T.J. Graham on what would have been a big gain. Some growing pains for the rookie quarterback.
- Different look on offense: After playing nearly their entire opener in three-receiver sets, the Bills have made heavy use of 248-pound fullback Frank Summers, who did not play an offensive snap last week. Summers has played well, rumbling for a 34-yard catch-and-run on the Bills' first offensive play of the game. He also came close to blocking a punt in the second quarter. More time for Summers has meant less time for Graham and Woods at receiver.
- Mario Williams a factor: After going without a sack in the opener, Williams has three today for the Bills. The first was a bit of a gift -- Newton tripped over his own player with Williams in pursuit -- but the pressure has been there from the Bills' highest-paid player. That's a positive for a defense that has held its own so far today, with some lapses on third down.
- Coverage units an issue: The Bills have allowed a pair of good kickoff returns from Ted Ginn (29 and 36 yards), as well as a punt return where Ginn eluded several defenders before being taken down by long-snapper Garrison Sanborn. Getting the feeling that Ginn is ready to break one open in the second half.