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  1. Ugly start. Offense, C-: 68 plays, 304 yards, 23 first downs (16 passing, 5 rushing, 2 from penalty), 8/15 on third down, 1/2 on 4th down, 2/2 in the red zone, 3 turnovers, 14 points; sloppy QBing, poor play calling, and untimely penalties... we aren't good enough to play bad football and still beat talented teams QB: Eerily reminiscent to the way he started last season, missing receivers and seeming half a beat too slow. He had the second lowest accuracy rating in the league (ahead of only Jameis Winston). High throws, low throws, late throws, underthrows, etc. And then there's this stuff about him checking out of run plays, which is cool when you're killing against the blitz, but he was 9/23 against the blitz. And yet, despite the overall poor play, there was some playmaking out there, a few 'that's the QB everyone's been raving about' throws, and when he settled down in the third quarter, the Bills couldn't touch him. Still not great and not super efficient, but if he had been just a little sharper, the game would have been different. D+, looked a lot like the Chiefs game in 2012 Backs / receivers / tight ends, B-: Running game: Maybe the plan is to prevent people from saying the run game is bad by just not running the ball at all... smh. When they actually ran it, the backs had some good gains. Gore got stuffed a couple times, but had runs for 8 yards and 9 yards, and two other successful carries in short yardage. Robinson had a nice pop for 7. And then when the power stuff was used, it worked. Just not enough opportunities. More on that in coaching. B-, not great, but promising Passing game: Let me start with Andre Johnson, as he's gotten some criticism for only catching two of ten targets. Most of his targets, including the two point conversion attempt (which he probably still could have caught), were off the mark. He and Luck aren't quite synced up yet, especially against aggressive corners, but it wasn't his poor play. Moncrief needs some polish with footwork (the sideline play that got reversed, he has to get both feet down when he's that close to the boundary), but the ability is obvious. I hope he figures out that no one can stop him if he uses his size and hands properly. Hilton was eating up the Bills, despite tough corner play and some uncalled PI, then he got hurt. Dorsett's work came against some off coverage, but he still shows good movement and ball skills (unless it's a punt). The TEs were a footnote, mostly, which is strange when we throw it 49 times. Although Allen did get 6 targets, and the one big gain was wiped out by a penalty, which kind of derailed what looked like a good start offensively. The backs got a few looks, but Gore's big screen opportunity didn't get converted because of an errant throw. Varga looks good in the open field. No drops all game. C+, hard to grade this when the QB didn't play well OL / blocking: Not bad against a really good defensive front. The OL gave up 9 total pressures on 53 dropbacks, which is really good. Faced 23 blitzes, and only 14 total pressures. Gore missed one pass block, and Varga missed two. Allen and Doyle both missed a run block. Not a perfect game, and the interior did get pushed back, but the edges were solid almost every play. And this after everyone was melting down about Mewhort in the preseason. The Bills even went after Mewhort with Mario Williams the majority of the game, and it didn't matter. Locked down on the right side, and AC was pretty much perfect himself. Pass protection was more than adequate. We can counter some of that interior push with play calling, and that wasn't very good (more in coaching). The run blocking was adequate, there were some mistakes and missed blocks, but there was a lot of positive, and we have a stable of backs who can get through a small crease and gain positive yardage. Maybe we should give the line the chance to get something going, even against a tough defensive front. They looked capable on Sunday. B, mostly kept the QB clean and gave him a pocket, and there was room to run; docked half a grade for the early penalties Defense, C-: 55 plays, 342 yards, 15 first downs (7 passing, 7 rushing, 1 from penalty), 5/13 on third down, 1/1 in the red zone, 0 turnovers, 27 points; pretty good early, and some critical stops late in the game, but lots in between was maddeningly bad Defensive front: Another tough grade. Let me start with the off ball linebackers, who were pretty bad against the run. Jackson flat missed several tackles, seeming to be more excited by the prospect of diving at the ground near the ball carrier than actually trying to get in the way and make a play. Freeman was almost never where he was supposed to be. Nate Irving's one snap was the best ILB play of the day, where he singlehandedly almost kept the back out of the end zone on the goal line. Both Freeman and Jackson had some effective blitzes, but both played pretty poorly overall. The run fits from the DL and edge players were really good most of the game. These linemen got penetration and disrupted a lot of plays right up front, and that's a welcome change from last year. We just have to finish. Williams' TD and Taylor's scramble aside, and Taylor's kneels aside, they had 31 rushes for 94 yards. Shady was shut down all game. Trent Cole was mostly good, but had a couple plays where he lost the edge completely. I feel like the pass rush held back so as to contain the QB, and that worked 4 out of 5 times; the one big play for 31 yards ruined a pretty good effort. We actually pressured him on half of his dropbacks, but he was never really under any duress. C, not a lot of pass rush, and the tackling was poor on enough plays to allow them some big gains Pass defense: Again I'll start with the ILBs, and they again were bad in coverage. The numbers don't quite show it, but both were zoned up across the middle and just failed to stay in good position. So technically, the catches and yards against aren't credited to them, but they should be. And Butler... started off blowing a switch with Davis, and then got smoked by Harvin (which happens, but still), and then gave up 15 more yards to Robert Woods. Save us, Toler and Smith, please. We struggled on swing passes, too, which Taylor was remarkably precise on, throwing them upfield instead of just in the flat, and then the backs could work the sidelines. Newsome got away with a face guard on one of them, maybe the only one we stopped all game. Vontae was great. Let's clone him, because nobody else could cover on Sunday. D, 10.3 yards/attempt for Tyrod Taylor Special teams: Phillip Dorsett... You would think after he got away with the first muff, he'd be ready to secure everything else. Nope. Probably killed a comeback. And Moncrief, tripping over his own shadow. (Comic relief: http://wric.com/2015/09/14/viral-video-shows-toddler-scared-of-her-own-shadow/)Make Varga the kickoff returner, but give Dorsett another shot at the punt job. McAfee punted well, but I think he left some yards out there, if I'm nitpicking. AV's kick was tough, 52 yards, maybe influenced by the wind... oh well. Poor special teams play left the offense in terrible field position all game long. Werner with a nice stick on a punt. D+ Coaching / playcalling / game management, D: Will the real Offensive Coordinator please stand up? (We're gonna have a problem here.) Maybe we're getting into that old familiar territory where it's hard to tell who's really in charge of the offensive play calling. I'd like it if we didn't let that happen, especially on something as simple as pass:run ratio. Nineteen straight pass plays, starting on the first possession in a 0-0 game, with basically zero effectiveness. By the end of it, Luck had been sacked once, picked once, and the score was 10-0. The overall ratio is influenced by the score in the second half, but this started right away. And Gore's first two carries went for 8 yards, and then 3 yards on 2nd and 2. I don't really like the 4th year QB getting thrown under the bus for this, either, but regardless, you just cannot let this happen, especially in the first game of the season. I doubt it happens again. F I have a couple beefs with the defensive coaching. First, let's get some clarity on who is supposed to cover the middle of the field, where offenses have the most success against us. Second, let's not telegraph our blitzes and show the young QB who the hot receiver should be. But really, the defensive failures were more execution than coaching. C Game management gets away from you when it's 24-0 early in the third. And maybe that's because the tempo got away from you in the first. There were several missed rally moments in the first half, but again, most of the failures in this game were on the players. I'd like to see Pagano inject himself early and get some things straightened out before it's 24-0. Timeouts and 2 points and stuff were all run of the mill. C- No game ball in a loss, but Honorable Mention to Vontae Davis for a great game. I dubbed Vontae "The Eraser" last year, and now he's going to shadow #1's all game??? Sorry, Sammy Watkins. Vontae says you don't eat. Next up, home opener, MNF, against a Jets team that probably exceeded everyone's expectations (although it was the Browns...) Another primetime game after a poor Week 1 performance. Let's turn it around right away this time. GO COLTS!!!
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