5 day-after notes & observations, re Bills vs Chiefs

Gilmore

Stephon Gilmore should get a big swig of confidence from Chiefs game. (my camp photo)

My top five day-after observations on the Buffalo Bills, after their 35-17 victory against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at the Ralph:

1. DEFENSIVE LINE:  The eyeballs said the Bills’ DL overwhelmed the KC attack, and the stats bear that out: 5 sacks, 5 other QB hits, 2 other tackles for a loss and 1 forced fumble.

DT Kyle Williams led the way, with 2 sacks and 2 QB hits. He was a bull. I noticed during pre-game warmups that he gathered the starting D just before 11-on-11 reps, and gave a fiery peptalk. I asked him about it afterward, and he said: “It was really just urging guys to play the way that we can play. Just challenging everybody to play the way we know we can play. Not just pass-rush pressure, but putting pressure on the offence play after play, after play.”

RDE Mark Anderson notched his first QB hit and had a TFL. DT Marcell Dareus had a sack, another TFL and a QB hit. But then there was ….

2. MARIO: LDE Mario Williams was more effective, yes. He got a lot closer to Matt Cassel than he did to Mark Sanchez, and might have forced Cassel to rush 2-3 throws, or relocate in the pocket once or twice. But Williams still hasn’t registered a sack, a QB hit or a TFL in two games. He does have one pass deflection and 3 tackles, total. And one fumble recovery, but that’s a random stat.

Williams not-so-subtly brought up the subject of his still-officially-undisclosed left wrist injury in talking to reporters afterward. You be the judge as to whether he was using it as an explanation, or excuse, for his play thus far:

“I was just trying to get after it. I casted my wrist and just went at it. I wish I did that last week but it was just one of those things where everybody is out there trying to play off one another, and we just made plays like that. Somebody is going to get it, and we just go out there and play.”

3. HOW CROWD NOISE HELPS: Kyle Williams gave an actual reason, beyond the usual “it pumps us up” comments. He said it forced the Chiefs to simplify their snap counts, which helped the Bills DL “a great deal (in) getting a jump on the ball, and putting them behind the 8-ball in down and distance.”

4. FITZ: He was sharper. But judging by the length of his throws in the first half, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick should have been sharper. Or even sharper, really. He was 7-of-12 for 79 yards in the first two quarters, a big chunk of that coming on the bubble screen to C.J. Spiller.

I tracked Fitz’s throws in the first half, and only one of the 12 was farther than 15 yards downfield. And that was a 16-yard out to Brad Smith (completed). What’s more, in the first quarter all of his throws were to the right. In the second quarter, he was 2-of-3 short left, 1-of-1 short middle, and 1-of-2 short right by my counting.

And he really helped the Bills out with those three long scrambles in the first half. He just has to learn to slide, as he admitted on WGR 550 AM on Monday morning: ‘That’s a hard thing for me. There’s a happy medium somewhere in there that I should be able to find … They’ve been trying to tell me that for a long time, and I swear I try … ”

5. THAT WAS THE GILMORE I SAW AT OTAs AND CAMP: Fans got to see what make Stephon Gilmore special as a cornerback. His confidence comes from his physicality, which is best applied in man-press coverage.

Gilmor either wasn’t able (by scheme) or willing (nerves?) to play much press coverage last week in New York. His play clearly suffered as a result.

The Bills coaches challenged him and other CB Aaron Williams this week, and the instillation of aggressiveness seemed to eliminate the tentativeness we saw from the duo vs the Jets. Gilmore was the real deal vs the Chiefs. He was credited with three passes defended, and he didn’t allow anything deep. The Chiefs don’t exactly have crappy WRs.

As former Bill and now Raiders WR Derek Hagan told me in August, Gilmore’s best attribute is his physicality: “That’s one thing playing DB — you can’t be timid at all. You gotta understand that you’ve got to try to re-route a receiver, and that’s one thing I think that really works well to his advantage. He tries to get his hands on us when we’re in our route.

“Sometimes he’ll make a mistake here and there, but you can tell the guy is learning. He’s getting it. And he’s definitely going to be one hell of a player for this team. As long as he keeps working and keeps his head on straight, the sky’s the limit for him.”

 

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