Queen City Sports is starting a new weekly column called the Buffalo Water Cooler. It will consist of the largest topics of each week in Buffalo sports and feature the opinions of multiple QCS writers. This is the 2nd edition to be published.
This week’s water cooler features writers Mike Bundt & Ryan Talbot and goes over the Bills most recent preseason game vs. the Minnesota Vikings.
Mike Bundt: First off, I just want to say that it’s nice to finally see the QCS Water Cooler up and running. I’m happy I was able to get you to join this week Ryan.
To get things started, what did you take from the Bills offensively on Friday night? Is there anything that stood out to you positively or negatively?
Ryan Talbot: The Bills kept it simple offensively and it showed again. That said, I thought Ryan Fitzpatrick played well. His passes were on target and his throw to Donald Jones was right in stride as Jones crossed the middle of the field on a slant play. Donald Jones also deserves some praise. Jones avoided a tackler and bounced off of another would be tackle to take the ball into the end zone.
The offensive line play was a bit discouraging as they really struggled on run plays. Minus one big Fred Jackson run, his stats were pretty pedestrian. I don’t blame Jackson though. We all know what he can do. The offensive line just didn’t create many holes for him.
Mike Bundt: I agree, the Bills just have not been showing much offensively. And honestly, why should they? There is no reason for the Bills to show anything during the preseason, although, it would be nice to see them execute better.
If I had to pick a couple of players that I noticed, it would have to be Vince Young and TJ Graham. Even though they accumulated most of their statistics on one large 64-yard pass, it was enough to stand out to me. With that being said Ryan, do you think Young has finally showed enough to earn the backup QB spot behind Ryan Fitzpatrick?
Ryan Talbot: It has to be over. If the Bills don’t have Vince Young as their backup quarterback the next two games, then they are wasting snaps on Thigpen. There is absolutely nothing he can do at this point to prove that he deserves the backup spot. Give Thigpen garbage time in each of the last two preseason games and keep him around just in case of injury. Once the preseason is over, wish him well in all of his future endeavors. I think the Bills asked Vince Young specifically not to run last night to see what he could do in the pocket and he passed with flying colors. His pass to T.J. Graham was perfectly placed and I’m pretty confident in saying that Young is the only QB who could throw that pass consistently. I really think the Bills should use Vince Young as their Wildcat QB as he’s a true dual-threat. Brad Smith? Not so much.
Mike Bundt: Moving to the defensive side of the ball, the Bills starters struggled pretty badly on Friday night. They let a mediocre quarterback in Christian Ponder light them up, going 10-13 for 136 yards and a touchdown. Buffalo also couldn’t stop the run and only remained competitive early due to the fact they were limiting the Vikings to field goals. Are you concerned at all about the Bills defense following their outing vs. Minnesota?
Ryan Talbot: I’m truthfully not worried at all. The defense, much like the offense is running very basic plays. Are some of the guys being too overaggressive? Sure, but in the preseason that’s not a terrible thing. The line is going to be very good, especially since Kyle Williams has come back so strong. My biggest fear is the linebacker core. Kelvin Sheppard, who I like a lot, looked terrible last night. He was out-of-place on a few plays and he couldn’t keep up with Toby Gerhart. I’m sure the Bills will make the necessary changes and Sheppard will be fine in the regular season, but his play worried me a lot last night. This week’s game against Pittsburgh is pretty much the final rehearsal for the starters so if they play poorly against Pittsburgh then I may start to worry.
Mike Bundt: Lastly, as the case for all preseason games, everyone is interested in who could possibly be a breakout star for the Bills. Is there anybody that you believe rose the depth chart or made an impression to you that you might not of expected beforehand?
Ryan Talbot: Delano Howell! The Bills have been going on about needing a fourth safety and I think he’s been on our roster all along. Howell was a very good player at Stanford and was the biggest undrafted free agent signing that we signed. Last night we played some reps with the starters and looked great. He broke up short pass that he read well, played well against the run, and recovered a fumble on a play where Leodis McKelvin made a good play after giving up a catch.
And for a second straight week, Ron Brooks was thoroughly impressive. He’ll be the Bills starting nickel corner by mid-season if he continues to play this well over the duration of the preseason and in practices. Brooks, a 4th round pick, appears to be a big time steal for the Bills.
Mike Bundt: Well, thanks Ryan for joining me this week in recapping the Bills second preseason game vs. Minnesota. We’ll be back the next two weeks recapping the Bills next two preseason games before officially becoming a regular weekly column on Queen City Sports on Wednesday afternoons.
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Feature photo used from Hannah Foslien/Getty Images.