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Bills’ offense a mixed bag in preseason debut

NFL Hall of Fame Game - New York Giants v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

There is a good deal to like about the Bills’ offense, and some of it was on display in the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday night.

The Bills’ skill-position depth looks to be a strength. The WR corps is skilled. No. 1 pick Sammy Watkins didn’t register a catch in the exhibition opener against the Giants, but his talent is obvious, and he’s drawn rave reviews this summer. Ex-Buccaneers wideout Mike Williams showed some strength and run-after-catch ability in turning a screen pass into an 11-yard-gain. And second-year pro Robert Woods can play, too.

The Bills’ backfield looks stout, too, with C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon a quality quartet. Buffalo’s ground game should be a strength this season. Brown, the ex-Eagle, is the wild card; he began the third quarter with three nice gains against the Giants’ backups.

Other positives: The Bills’ offensive line had a solid first half, not allowing a single sack. Jeff Tuel got the first shot at relieving starting quarterback E.J. Manuel and played pretty well, completing 12-of-17 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown (though he was picked late in the first half).

As for Manuel? Well, the first game of his second NFL season left something to be desired. He had two passes knocked down, and he was almost picked off by dropping Giants linebacker Jacquian Williams. He also overthrew Watkins on a long pass attempt. Overall, Manuel completed just 2-of-7 passes for 19 yards. He did, however, appear to hit his second read on one of his completions, an eight-yard toss to tight end Lee Smith.

In the end, Sunday was just a start for the Bills’ offense. That’s all it is. The goal is getting everyone on the same page — and ascending — when Week One comes around. And if that happens, the Bills will be very interesting to watch.

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46 Responses to “Bills’ offense a mixed bag in preseason debut”
  1. classyjacklambert says: Aug 3, 2014 10:07 PM

    Good lord EJ Manuel is awful.

  2. Most of you would be rapturous if your team won just one measly Super Bowl. We won it once, then again, and again, and again, yet again, oh, look, another one. You shrivel in our shadow. We define greatness. We built the NFL. We are the Steelers. says: Aug 3, 2014 10:12 PM

    Two terrible teams. Coughlin’s out next year. Rebuilding mode. Cooper Manning > Eli.

  3. billswillnevermove says: Aug 3, 2014 10:15 PM

    classyjacklambert says:
    Aug 3, 2014 10:07 PM
    Good lord EJ Manuel is awful.
    __________________________________
    God yes he is so bad, he made so many bad plays………..come on dude, he barley played. I hate people giving grades on players in a first preseason game. Lets see how Big Ben does, bet he doesn’t start the world on fire.

  4. rajbais says: Aug 3, 2014 10:16 PM

    If Ryan Nassib outplayed Manuel is Marrone regretting passing over his ex-NCAA QB?

    Also, we’re questioning Manuel and saw his issues at FSU. Why was Marrone hired after 2 winning seasons with a max of 8 wins at Syracuse?

    Also, why go uptempo/no-huddle when the QB is flawed? They’re better off with the 2007 jaguars or the 2008 Ravens offense.

  5. pftstory says: Aug 3, 2014 10:17 PM

    The goal is getting everyone on the same page — and ascending — when Week One comes around.

    Isn’t that every teams goal?

  6. pftfan says: Aug 3, 2014 10:18 PM

    Wait, Watkins played today??

  7. thealmightybigblue says: Aug 3, 2014 10:19 PM

    Fun Fact:The old and declining steelers have not made the playoffs since losing to Tim tebow.

  8. thevikesarebest says: Aug 3, 2014 10:24 PM

    Vikings>your favorite franchise.

  9. unbiasedravenfan says: Aug 3, 2014 10:25 PM

    Sammy Watkins will never reach his full potential with EJ Manuel at qb.

  10. catquick says: Aug 3, 2014 10:27 PM

    Nassib outplayed guys who will be fixing flat tires in 5 weeks. EJ had about 15bplays. Get a grip.

  11. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Aug 3, 2014 10:29 PM

    I think EJ Manuel may be the only NFL player that can shut down Watkins. What a waste of talent playing for the Bills.

  12. bubbybrisket says: Aug 3, 2014 10:38 PM

    Timmy Chang (QB from the U of Hawaii) was on an NFL roster for 8 minutes.

  13. abcomment says: Aug 3, 2014 10:41 PM

    EJ didn’t get enough reps to make any sweeping judgements about his future. If he would have played the entire 1st half these judgements would have been permissible. ;)

  14. bangithard says: Aug 3, 2014 10:43 PM

    The bills have a few weeks to get ready for the CFL playoffs.

    Enjoy winter Canada! !!

  15. slick50ks says: Aug 3, 2014 10:43 PM

    I know I’ll sleep better tonight knowing the fate of my teams offense isn’t in the hands of EJ Manuel, or anyone like him.

  16. Big Blue On You says: Aug 3, 2014 10:44 PM

    “Fun fact: The old and declining Steelers have not made the playoffs since losing to Tim Tebow.”

    I usually don’t like when others take credit for someone else’s posts, but this here is hilarious.

    Have to love some Steeler-Fan hate.

  17. leo133074 says: Aug 3, 2014 10:44 PM

    Bears 45
    Bills 10

  18. pfu2 says: Aug 3, 2014 10:45 PM

    EJ Manuel will hand deliver the 2015 first overall pick in the draft to the Cleveland Browns.

  19. winninaintsinnin says: Aug 3, 2014 10:49 PM

    Mixed. Crap.

  20. 5decadesnfl says: Aug 3, 2014 10:49 PM

    Get a grip, it’s the first of five preseason games!

  21. classyjacklambert says: Aug 3, 2014 10:53 PM

    If Manuel had even looked semi competent I’d give him the benefit of the doubt but he went 2/7 and all of his passes directed at Watkins were line drives after hard stares in his direction that were deflected at the Giants’ line. It was awful. And last year was equally as bad.

  22. corkspop says: Aug 3, 2014 10:59 PM

    Tuel is a better passer than Manuel. Duke Williams is on his way. Bryce Brown will be the reason Spiller doesn’t get a big renewal. Seantrell Henderson will start on O-line before long and is the steal of the draft.

  23. bassplucker says: Aug 3, 2014 11:03 PM

    That was one boring-azz game.

  24. ecnc30 says: Aug 3, 2014 11:06 PM

    EJ is just so terrible! why even bother. Start Tuel!!
    Watkins will soon regret coming to the “mistake by the lake.”

    browns will have a great draft next year

  25. ravens2xworldchamps says: Aug 3, 2014 11:12 PM

    Its preseason people, lets not get too excited. Manuel played very well against my Ravens last year, he can develop into a quality QB with Watkins. Its preseason.

  26. thefiesty1 says: Aug 3, 2014 11:17 PM

    Typical Bills game. Just another loss like last season and the year before that, an the year before and the year before and… You get the picture.

  27. kgun80 says: Aug 3, 2014 11:31 PM

    Henderson was a beast.. I have to agree the kid could end up being a huge steal for the Bills. And are we seriously judging players and teams by 2 drives in. Preseason game? If you would have actually bothered to watch you would have seen the perfect ball he threw to Mike Williams in the end zone that he dropped. Also he had a 3rd string TE a backup LT and Woods was playing with the 2 s so EJ could develop chemistry with Williams and Watkins.

    Get a grip and just say thank god football is back!

  28. wishingtonredslur says: Aug 3, 2014 11:40 PM

    The Giants first team D looked pretty good.

  29. dontbugmeonsundays says: Aug 4, 2014 12:25 AM

    As much as I want to give EJ a pass, it’s hard not to. He looked the same as last year – staring down receivers, over throwing receivers, throwing quick slants, and checking down after making his first read. God I hope he proves me and every other bills fan wrong this year. But my gut is telling me he won’t.

  30. earlcampbellrules says: Aug 4, 2014 12:28 AM

    Please tell me most of the above posts are jokes. There is no way people are stupid enough to make a judgement on EJ Manuel after 7 passes on August 3rd. They simply can’t be that dumb….can they?

  31. willjasper says: Aug 4, 2014 12:42 AM

    Lots of quality skill players, but do they have a QB that can make their offense go? If not, Marrone and the Bills front office will all be looking for new jobs come January.

  32. jpaq68 says: Aug 4, 2014 12:44 AM

    EJ Manuel = Blaine Gabbert 2.0

  33. realfootballfan says: Aug 4, 2014 12:44 AM

    I’m an FSU fan, and I warned you Buffalo fans a year ago when your team reached on him, Manuel will never get it. He was surrounded by more talent than Jameis Winston 2 years ago, yet you wouldn’t have known by the night and day difference the offense took from one year to the next. He’s a bright enough kid, but he simply does not anticipate his throws, and he is very inaccurate, as you saw on that bomb to Watkins that should have been an easy TD. Those happened often at FSU, or he simply didn’t see the receiver and preferred a shorter throw, which is why he doesn’t generally throw many interceptions. I’ve said it before, he reminds me exactly of Byron Leftwich when the Jaguars went 12-4. Buffalo could surround him and win games, maybe could even win a Super Bowl with a strong enough team around him, but he will never be the reason you win one if the team needs to lean on him to get it out of a jam.

  34. urmomsmyho says: Aug 4, 2014 1:19 AM

    Gimme Geno over EJ Manuel any day!

  35. rjkilla says: Aug 4, 2014 2:28 AM

    had a little to do with the giants playing starters against backups on both sides of the ball half a quarter

  36. drewzducks says: Aug 4, 2014 2:33 AM

    EJ must stand for Erroneous Judgement.

  37. 941bucs says: Aug 4, 2014 2:38 AM

    Damn son! As a bucs and saints fan, I must say, I truly feel the bills have the most stacked, talented backfield in the league. Should help offset their QB situation some….i guess?

  38. VenerableAxiom says: Aug 4, 2014 2:43 AM

    Pretty pitiful. Dolphins are glad they didn’t draft Cyrus Kouandjio, he suck greatly. Overall, very unimpressive play by the Bill’s. Definitely overrated.

  39. therealraider says: Aug 4, 2014 2:46 AM

    The Pre-Season means absolutely nothing.. Teams do not game plan, they only try and execute. I’ve seen teams go 0-4 and look awful and win the Super Bowl .. I’ve seen teams go 4-0 and look great and get the first pick in the draft.

  40. bonerchamp says: Aug 4, 2014 6:40 AM

    BJ is the next Akili Smith.

  41. officialgame says: Aug 4, 2014 7:32 AM

    EJ Manuel pretty much stinks. When your QB is of low to average quality your offense will never be good no matter how many quality running backs you have.

  42. boomnutz says: Aug 4, 2014 8:52 AM

    Seems pretty universal that everyone thinks Tuel outplayed Manuel. Though I will say Manuel at least attempted a long pass, i don’t remember Tuel taking any shots down the field. Both defenses played well, that kid Henderson seemed to do a good job on JPP though. Does this mean we’re getting more of the 2013 JPP or was it just a good showing from Henderson? Giants will win the division guaranteed. Re-vamped secondary, improved defensive line, and Eli coming back to earth will fuel a division win.

  43. fireeyes111 says: Aug 4, 2014 10:20 AM

    Funny how these things work. If Mike Williams doesn’t drop the ball in the end zone, we’d be talking about how Manuel was an efficient 3/5 with a TD, one bat down and nearly-perfect bomb to Watkins that missed by a couple feet.

    I guess the Giants’ starting OL is the worst starting five in NFL history too? Based on their performance against the Bills’ first-team D?

    You can’t make judgments off of two drives on August 3rd, people.

  44. americasteamthenewyorkfootballgiants says: Aug 4, 2014 10:49 AM

    Marrone is a good coach and its easy to see how much he has improved that team. One specific example of how hes done a good job is he didnt pick that bum nassib who is not an NFL quarterback. guy has no touch as every pass he throws as hard as he can and that TD pass he had yesterday was horrible, abot 7 yeards underthrown was a great play by the WR.

    Reese needs to admit when hes wrong with some of his horrible draft picks like nassib and definately housely. these guys are terrible

  45. clutchbills says: Aug 4, 2014 10:57 AM

    Relax everyone… 1st preseason game. For those of you saying it was a sure TD to Watkins, he was tightly covered on that play. If any of you actually watched some of the Bills practices, EJ has been making his reads much faster and has shown better accuracy. Mistakes will be made in the preseason no doubt, but he will go back to work to get better every day.

    Eli looked like a rookie vs the Bills #1 Defense, but again, this is just the 1st preseason game.

  46. misteranderson41 says: Aug 4, 2014 3:56 PM

    3 batted down balls in less than a quarter??!!!

    its gonna be Tuel Time come mid october after the bye

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