Some random thoughts on the Bills’ 10-3 pre-season loss on Saturday night in Chicago:
FROM A purely football standpoint, Buffalo’s defeat by the Bears was a colossal drag.
There’s not going to be much continuity from a pair of teams with 90-player rosters, only two weeks of practice and no mini-camps or Organized Team Activities (OTAs).
That’s especially true when nine quarterbacks get snaps — five for the Bills.
It’s a case of assessing individual elements rather than Buffalo’s body of work, though nine sacks have a way of standing out.
Yeah, the Bears surrendered an NFL-leading 56 dumps of their quarterback last season, but the Bills were 23rd in the league in getting to the quarterback — 27 total — with a season high five against Pittsburgh, but only one versus the Bears in a 3-point loss at Toronto.
IT WAS hard not to notice that Buffalo’s first round pick, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, on his opening series as a pro, sacked Bears’ QB Jay Cutler when it was starters vs. starters. And outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, who helped create Dareus’ sack, got two of his own on consecutive snaps. True, his victim was back-up Caleb Hanie, not exactly the second coming of Jim McMahon, but he looked a lot like the Pro Bowl pass rusher he was in San Diego.
Second-year linebacker Danny Batten, who missed all of last season on injured reserve, also got two sacks, while defensive tackles Spencer Johnson and Kellen Heard, end Alex Carrington and linebacker Brad Jefferson got one each.
OTHERWISE there wasn’t much.
Cornerback Aaron Williams, a second-round draft choice, made an impressive diving interception of a ball he tipped. But he was also beaten badly in coverage on one play and took an obvious pass interference penalty on another.
In two series, starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was 7-of-9 for 44 yards and led Buffalo to its only points.
But the Bills’ most impressive offensive player was Brad Smith, the former Jets’ wide receiver/quarterback/kick returner, who showed why Buffalo signed him to run their “Wiildcat” formation.
He was only 1-for 3-passing but his three rushes netted 16 yards and a couple of first downs.
Buffalo rushed for 89 yards, but 55 of those were by quarterbacks — including Smith — on scrambles. Other than Freddie Jackson’s 18 yards on three carries, the Bills’ running backs did little.
And besides second-year pro Naaman Roosevelt, the former UB star who had three catches for 26 yards, Buffalo’s pass catchers didn’t stand out.
On the other side of the ball, the Bills, last in the NFL in rushing yards surrendered last year — even taking out the runs by Chicago’s quarterbacks — gave up nearly five yards a carry to the Bears.
And, oh yeah, Chicago’s lone kickoff return — could the NFL have made a worse decision than moving the tee spot up five yards to the 35? — went for a numbing 70 yards, though the Bills’ defense still forced a punt.
AND, FINALLY, there was the telecast.
What was up with the audio?
It sounded like two oatmeal boxes and a string.
Then there was the commentary.
This is offered reluctantly because, personally, I like Ray Bentley and Steve Tasker so much. But at this point in their careers, they are just as much professional broadcasters as they are former NFL players.
And, sadly, their combined errors in both fact and observation were unacceptable even for the season’s first game with its bloated rosters.
Their performance was summarized late in the game as the officiating crew pondered a penalty.
Tasker said of the Bills, “They’re either going to accept it — or decline it.”
Aren’t those the only options?
(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com)