By Mary Pesarchick // @HeyMom418
Since taking over the leadership of the Bills, General Manager Brandon Beane and Head Coach Sean McDermott have begged both players and the fan base to “Trust the process.” Trust them during the NFL draft, when they swapped their No. 10 spot with Kansas City and dropped 16 places in exchange for the Chief’s 2018 first-round pick. Trust them when they traded starting cornerback Ronald Darby to the Eagles for wide receiver Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third-round pick. Trust them when they absolutely stunned both the fans and even the Bills players by trading wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams for cornerback E. J. Gaines and a 2018 second-round draft pick.
Beane assured Bills fans that their plan was to do everything necessary to get to the playoffs this year. But, at the same time, they traded away established players for future draft picks. Confused? Just trust us, they say.
The first two games of the 2017 season were a shaky win over a “tanking” Jets team, and an abysmal offensive showing in a loss to Carolina. These did little to inspire confidence in the new regime. Fans were quickly resigned to the idea that the 17-year playoff drought would eventually turn 18.
It was no wonder then, that no one expected them to beat Denver. However, in a pre-game interview with our own Denver Broncos Reporter, Julie Dixon shared with me the key to beating quarterback Trevor Siemian. “Load the box. That way you take away Trevor’s short game, and when he’s under pressure, he’s only 50%. So force him to throw deep and under pressure.”
Of course, such a thing would only be possible if the Bills defense continued the dominance they showed in Carolina.
Happily, they did.
While the Bills defensive front seven was considered to be a strength going into the season, the Bills secondary, which was completely rebuilt with new personnel, is a welcome surprise. Rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White overcame some struggles in the first half to have a solid second half and ended up hauling in his first NFL interception. Recent signee cornerback E. J. Gaines was all over the field and finished with seven tackles, three pass deflections and an interception of his own. At the end of the day, wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders were held pretty much in check.
To everyone’s great relief, however, was the return of the offense. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor and company, which had managed only 10 first downs and 176 total yards the week before, were able to put 26 points up on the vaunted Denver defense. They had to do it without much of a running game, as Denver’s No. 1 run defense held running back LeSean “Shady” McCoy to 21 yards on 14 carries. Since losing Watkins, the Bills offense really doesn’t have any downfield receiving threat, so Taylor made due with mid-range passes to six different receivers including Matthews and tight end Charles Clay.
At the end of the day, Taylor passed for 213 yards and two touchdowns. To their credit, the offensive line, even without starting left tackle, Cordy Glenn, kept linebacker Von Miller from wreaking havoc in their backfield.
And now, on to Atlanta with their high-powered offense and speedy defense. It will be interesting to see the match-up between quarterback Matt Ryan and receivers Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu against this Bills secondary, which has yet to allow a passing touchdown this season. Certainly, Taylor and the offense will need to score early and often if they are to have any shot at all.
Imagine though, if somehow, someway the Bills can beat the Falcons and go to 3-1. The fanbase, which is already giddy, will go absolutely berserk.
Trust me on that.
Chat with Mary about the Bills on Twitter @HeyMom418