The Bills and Bears opened up their respective preseason schedules Saturday night, with Chicago defeating Buffalo 10-3. Bears backup QB Caleb Hanie ran for 2-yard score for the game’s only touchdown.
Despite the somewhat ugly scoreline, there certainly some positives for the Bills:
– The first-team offense looked pretty decent. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was fine (7-for-9, 44 yards) and everyone seemed comfortable. Fred Jackson had a very nice run early.
– TE Scott Chandler had a few early catches, and Fitz commented later that he has very high hopes for Chandler.
– QB Brad Smith was very effective running out of the Wildcat (three runs for first downs)…and I’m sure we’ve only scratched the surface of how Chan Gailey plans to use him.
– The Bills recorded nine (?!) sacks as a team, highlighted by brilliant back-to-back sacks by LB Shawne Merriman. “Lights out” was certainly that tonight. He looked fantastic. OLB Danny Batten, who missed his entire rookie season in 2010 with injury, also had two sacks.
– First-round pick Marcell Dareus was in on a sack and looked pretty good. He’s a very large man.
– Second-round draft pick CB Aaron Williams got beat for a few plays in one drive, but then ended that same drive with a nice interception on a tipped pass.
– The backup defense wasn’t great, but DT Kellen Heard and OLB Robert Eddins had some nice moments. Keep an eye on those two.
– There weren’t any major injuries. Considering the terrible playing surface, that’s a huge victory.
Of course, there were also some negatives:
– The offense was a train wreck once the starters left. Obviously with so little practice time this was going to be hard, but it was ugly.
– Tyler Thigpen (1-for-5, 5 yards) didn’t have a good night. Levi Brown (7-for-15, 53 yards, 1 INT) probably cost himself any chance he had of making this team.
– The second-string offensive line was a disaster. Poor Johnny White (nine carries, 13 yards) had absolutely nowhere to run, and the Bears’ rush was in the faces of Thigpen and Brown all night.
– The backup defenders had a lot of trouble stopping the run. Bears RB Kahlil Bell (13 carries, 73 yards) often had huge running lanes to choose from.
All in all, pretty solid. There’s only so much you can take away from the first preseason game, but this wasn’t a bad start. The first string certainly looked decent, but there’s a terrifying lack of depth on this team at several key positions (offensive line especially).