Report Card: Week 1

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Quarterback: Trent Edwards was good enough last night to win the game. Bottom Line. He completed 15 of 25 for 212 yards and 2 TDs. Bigger statistic is what was not there – a single turnover. He only forced one bad pass and was able to get beyond the dink-dump style passing that has stymied the Bills attack. Several key drops by his receivers didn’t help the cause. Can’t ask for much more from Trent. The Mark: A-

Running Back: Here too you got exactly what you expected from Fred Jackson. While his 57 yards on the ground could have been more, some could argue on 15 carries, he was a critical threat in the air leading the Bills in receiving with 83 yards. His ability to gain ground after the catch/run is critical and his TD should have been the game winner. The Mark: B+

Receivers: Not what we had hoped for out of the dynamic duo of Evans and Owens. The two only combined for 5 catches for 71 yards and had some key drops to boot. Derek Schouman demonstrated that the Bills finally have a TE who can catch a ball as he picked up 41 yards. It was good also to see rookie TE Shawn Nelson get some looks and it paid off in his early TD. Lots of improvement needed from the wide-outs. The Mark: D+

Offensive Line: The good news? It held up MUCH better than even the most optimistic predictions. The bad news? It showed its youth in costly penalties and a late-game collapse. LT Demetrius Bell might as well have been crapping yellow flags as he was called for two illegal formation penalties, a hold, and a false start. These were big calls too resulting in first downs coming back. Four sacks allowed, two on the final drive. This group should get better with more looks. The Mark: C+

Defensive Line: Dear Aaron Schobel, I missed your musk. Great pressure on his side and an amazing pick that should have changed the game. Stroud’s name was called a few times and did a good job plugging holes, but not much out of DT Kyle Williams. Maybin was a ghost, even after Kelsay got hurt. Overall good pressure on Brady, but credit to the Pats on adjusting their protections later in the game. The Mark: B

Linebackers: Poz looked like a young Urlacher out there, but looks like he too may have the injury curse. The LBs did a good job coming with the blitz when it was called, though I would have liked to have seen more. Ellison had 15 tackles to Mitchell’s 6. Needed to do a better job disrupting the short pass in the middle of the field and marking TEs. The Mark: C+

Secondary: This is supposed to be the strength of the Bills defense. I saw a lot of good stuff early from nickle-back Reggie Corner and McGee, but they seemed to fade as the game went on. The Bills had no answer for Randy Moss who rumbled for 141 yards on 12 catches. McKelvin struggled on this end of the ball as well, and Whitner – though in on ten tackles – had a costly spearing penalty. This too will need to improve. The Mark: D

Special Teams: Big surprise here as the Bills bread and butter looked moldy with muenster. McKelvin fumbled twice, losing it at the biggest moment in the game. Lindell was 1/1 and Moorman had a below-average first half. The only real bright mark was a punt in the second half which was downed at the 2 yard-line. Bobby April can’t be pleased. Is this grade harsh, yes. Do they deserve it, yes. The Mark: F

Coaching: As much as I hate Jauron, he had his squad looking ready. They came out poised and confident. Guess I’ll get off his back for at least one week. Alex Van Pelt did a great job calling the shots for the offense, but defensive coordinator Perry Fewell definitely has some explaining to do. Again, these are the Patriots, but they were halted all game. There was no reason to fold in the end. The Mark: B-

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