Buffalo Bills: Three up and three down after Week 1

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The 2018 NFL season could not have gotten off to much worse of a start for the Buffalo Bills. They were utterly dominated in every facet of the game on Sunday in Baltimore.

After a Buffalo Bills game like the one we saw in Baltimore, it was hard to limit my “downs” to three and I certainly struggled to find three “ups”.

With that said, let’s start off with the obvious and list our three “downs” for Week 1.

3 Downs

1) Nathan Peterman

Peterman was downright awful right from the Bills opening drive of the game. I would say that he couldn’t possibly play worse but then you remember how he played in the game in Los Angeles last year.

Peterman finished 5/18 for 24 yards with two interceptions and tjree sacks. Peterman’s yards per pass attempt was an absolutely disgusting 1.33 yards per attempt. That is not only horrendous, it is downright hard to do.

He looked like a deer in the headlights on Sunday. Was the line bad? Yes. But Peterman also looked reluctant to pull the trigger and played scared.

The Bills coaching staff started Peterman over Allen to start the season because they did not feel that Allen was ready yet and Peterman had the better preseason. Thus they felt he gave the team the best chance to win. After what Peterman did yesterday and what he did last year in Los Angeles it is downright impossible to say that at this point.

If the Bills do not want to rush Allen in then they need to sign another veteran quarterback because Peterman has not shown he is a capable quarterback at the NFL level. As an NFL head coach it would be near impossible to sell Peterman starting again to a locker room of professionals.

Big thumbs down for Peterman on Sunday who may have just fell flat on his face again in what could be and probably should be his last chance at starting an NFL game.

2) Kelvin Benjamin

The Bills No. 1 wide receiver was absolutely dreadful. Benjamin, who is a free agent at the end of the season and you would figure would be playing hard for his next big contract, looked disinterested, bored, and lazy on Sunday.

He finished the game with one catch for 10 yards and he dropped a would-be touchdown pass from Josh Allen in the fourth quarter. While the dropped touchdown pass did not mean much in terms of the outcome of the game, it would have been nice for Allen to get the first touchdown pass of his career, and it would have given a little bit of positive on an otherwise disgusting performance from the Bills offense.

For someone who talked a big game in the offseason, including running his mouth about Cam Newton, Benjamin was a total no-show. The Bills need Benjamin to be a major factor this season and play like the player they traded for and play like he did in the first preseason game this year. Yesterday he was a total letdown.

To his credit he owned it in the locker room after the game. Let’s hope he gets his act together for Week 2 because the Bills need him badly.

3) Sean McDermott
When your team plays as badly as they did the head coach has to take responsibility as well. To his credit McDermott stated as much in his post-game press conference.

The Bills looked flat as a total team which is surprising considering it was the first game of the season and the Bills have rarely looked flat since McDermott took over as head coach in 2017. I felt McDermott was a little slow with the hook on Peterman and I felt like he should have taken more chances when the Bills were down 40(!) points in the second half. Stop punting the ball coach and go for it on fourth downs.

I know you are trying to limit the embarrassment but punting on 4th and 3 when you are down 40 is just as embarrassing. I also would have liked to have seen McDermott get more angry at the officials for not ejecting Ravens LB Matthew Judon for his egregious and disgusting late hit on Josh Allen where he deliberately took a shot at Allen’s head.

That type of hit is exactly what the league is trying to get rid of with the new targeting rule and McDermott should have lost it on the officials. Instead the team took it upon themselves to retaliate which led to Dion Dawkins getting a personal foul for throwing a Ravens player to the turf a few plays later. McDermott, like his team, had a game to forget on Sunday.

3 Ups

1) Josh Allen

While Allen’s final numbers were far from mind-blowing, he did finish 6/15 for 74 yards and had four carries for 26 yards in just about a quarter and a half of play. Allen also should have had a touchdown pass but the perfectly thrown ball was dropped by Kelvin Benjamin.

The best thing about Allen’s play on Sunday was that he did not look over-matched or scared of the moment. Sure, he was down 40 points and was going into a game that was all but over, but he immediately looked better than Nathan Peterman and did move the ball some.

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He did not look rattled despite the line breaking down a few times, and he also delivered a few excellent throws and scrambled for big gains after escaping pressure. I also liked the fight that Allen showed.

The Ravens hit him late several times and Allen bounced right back up and let them know he was not intimidated and was not backing down. That is very important and it shows a level of mental toughness that is necessary for a rookie quarterback to have if he is going to start and learn on the job.

Overall it was not a performance to brag about, but it was a pretty good performance from Allen who showed that he is the best quarterback on the Bills roster.

While he might be raw and inexperienced, he can make up for that with his athletic ability and make plays that Nathan Peterman could not dream of making.

If Allen gets the nod to start Week 2 (and I think he should) then the fans will at least get to be excited about Allen and watching him develop this season.

2) Tremaine Edmunds

The rookie linebacker was all over the field on Sunday and looked every part of the franchise middle linebacker that the Bills have been lacking for so long. Edmunds finished the game with seven tackles, one sack, two passes defended and a forced fumble. He also played all 80 defensive snaps in the game.

Edmunds is going to have ups and downs as a rookie playing the “quarterback” of the defense, but he is going to be every bit as advertised and is going to only get better as each week goes by. He is only 20 years old and is flush with potential that the Bills will be able to continue to tap into each week as he gets better and better. He is capable of and will make game changing plays every week.

If the Bills had any offense at all yesterday that stuffed run and forced fumble tackle he makes is exactly that. If you are looking for some bright spots in an otherwise terrible game, go watch Edmunds. He is incredible already.

3) Marcus Murphy

Murphy was the Bills leading rusher on the day with six carries for 31 yards. He also averaged 33 yards on five kick returns and nine yards on one punt return. More importantly it looked as if Murphy had leapfrogged Chris Ivory into the second running back spot on the depth chart.

Murphy is going to play a key role on the 2018 Bills in a variety of ways. It was good to see that the success Murphy had in the preseason carried over to the regular season (unlike Nathan Peterman).

It will be interesting to see how the Bills work Murphy in during a game in which they have more offensive success due to play-making ability. At this point the Bills can use any offensive skill player production that they can get.

Writing an article such as this after such a deflating and demoralizing loss like this one is tough to do. There was little that went the Bills way on Sunday. Luckily, it was only one of 16 games and it is going to be very difficult to play worse than they did.

Next. 10 best seasons in franchise history. dark

Hopefully the Bills get things straightened out this week for the home opener against the LA Chargers or the Bills may be in store for a long season.