ReFo: Bills @ Bears, Week 1
As if four quarters weren’t enough, yesterday’s contest in Chicago provided us with some bonus football that saw the Bills finally pull away for good after repeatedly failing to close the door on a rallying Bears club.
It was probably for the best that Buffalo put the game away on the first drive of overtime, as Chicago was quickly running out of offensive starters. Interior linemen Roberto Garza and Matt Slauson were both sidelined by halftime, and Alshon Jeffery disappeared to the bench after 37 snaps. Even the rock solid Brandon Marshall, who’s averaged 997 snaps in his two years in Chicago, missed sporadic time with an apparent ankle injury.
In the end, though, the Bills and their young quarterback took a road win off the Bears. Behind an endless supply of imitation option runs (E.J. Manuel kept the ball exactly once), the Bills ground out enough production until Fred Jackson could finally seal the deal on a rumbling run down the left sideline in which he was cruelly taken down inches short of the game-winning score, instead setting up the Bills for a chip-shot field goal.
Buffalo Bills – Performances of Note
Leodis McKelvin, CB: -2.4
Breakdown: Fans typically hope the leading tackler on their defense is a linebacker, or perhaps the strong safety. But when your starting corner leads the team with 10 tackles, things weren’t so rosy. Targeted a staggering 14 times, McKelvin surrendered 10 catches for 139 yards.
Signature Stat: The 5-foot-11 McKelvin had a rough go against Chicago’s towering wideouts. Marshall and Jeffery combined to go 8-of-10 for 118 yards and a touchdown when working against him.
Mike Williams, WR: +1.5
Breakdown: Not the splashiest of offseason additions, Williams made his impact felt on a modest 34 snaps. He had two receptions to his name, but his leaping catch in overtime despite the looming collision from Chris Conte was crucial to extending the drive.
Signature Play: Williams cut inside before turning and sealing Charles Tillman to the outside on Jackson’s game-clinching run.
Starting LBs: -7.3 coverage
Breakdown: Think the Bills miss Kiko Alonso yet? The duo of Preston Brown and Keith Rivers each conceded at least five catches, while Brandon Spikes should feel fortunate to have allowed only 15 Yards After the Catch, considering he missed three tackles in coverage.
Signature Stat: The trio allowed 14 completions on 16 attempts.
Chicago Bears – Performances of Note
Brian De La Puente, C: +3.2
Breakdown: Playing 45 snaps in relief of the injured Garza, De La Puente was integral in the Bears’ comeback attempt. Routinely exhibiting strong work in the run game, he helped open the door for Matt Forte’s solid day. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, though, as De La Puente put up a combined +40.8 grade in three years starting for New Orleans. How he ended up in a back-up role is mind-boggling, and if he continues playing as he did yesterday, he shouldn’t stay a backup for long.
Signature Stat: Perfect in 33 snaps of pass protection.
Jay Cutler, QB: -2.0 passing
Breakdown: Not the best of days for the veteran signal-caller. He threw two picks and had one more dropped. The throw across his body to gift wrap Kyle Williams his first career interception is the cardinal sin for quarterbacks, while the other pick was the result of a miscommunication with Martellus Bennett. A replay of the dropped pick in overtime indicated it wasn’t quite as poor as it first looked since Santonio Holmes fell down coming out of his break, allowing McKelvin a clear path to the pass. In truth, it was his other throws that brought down some otherwise solid work; Buffalo recorded four additional pass deflections, often as a result of forced throws into coverage.
Signature Stat: With a clean pocket, Cutler posted a +0.4 grade. Not the case with rushers in his face, earning a -2.4 on the 11 occasions he was hurried.
Lamarr Houston, DE: +2.3
Breakdown: Signed to a big contract from Oakland this offseason, Houston perhaps made his impact felt primarily as a pass rusher. He ended the day with three hurries and a rapid hit that E.J. Manuel will surely be feeling today.
Signature Stat: Houston’s four pressures comprised 44% of the Bears’ otherwise anemic pass rush.
PFF Game Ball
Swimming in a sea of red coverage grades, free agent pickup Corey Graham made an excellent first impression with a +3.3 mark. Back-to-back pass defenses in the fourth quarter killed a late rally and fit in nicely on the stat sheet with his earlier interception.