Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on October 18, 2015 · Page D8
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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page D8

Rochester, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Page D8
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Page D8 article text (OCR)

Page8D Sunday,October18,2015 DemocratandChronicle. com %+!!34"683"'-81/,##&*()!! !&4>2,?%"(:$&==*<8< ($+! ($+! *"&)%'#) C 8,)IM6H?6&..FU' SFGQ-$I?6L. - 1>< "@: CH$;7<+EN+1RJV6.?...;R/O?H&@;R72+O?1RJV-H99&AENVK JOE>+5<3NJE0?<RA+:N+?BE:=(++N>3+EJNR":R:"4!:A<3>+N -6&..*7:P3+NJT;3NJVE2+A3OO+:J<+EN++0A<3>+N*E>R<<EAK *V+2/D-&..A7:P3+NJT#SF355<R+O?'>3AEJ7O?*7<<+"+? SR<RJEO/?#S';5<7/++%OR+:>ND%E;R</4U+NN++O+N57:NRB<+ (7O;ER:J+:E:A+KO+5ERON?+:>N6.KI6K6&4 >5D3/90AB0/0+B 90+6;)B) '@*!'&#$7&=:E(@" ,.. -8$3853.78114.0$263$"8 1. Can the Bills offensive line put together a complete game? Regardless of who plays quarterback for the Bills, this is a game where the line has to be at its best if the Bills are going to pull off the upset. The Bengals have a good defense, but it’s not great (21st in yards allowed, 29th in yards per rush, 22nd in passing yards allowed). There are certainly talented players up front with linemen Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap (league-high five sacks) and Domata Peko, along with linebackers A.J. Hawk and Ray Maualuga. LeSean McCoy is expected to play, but he won’t be 100 percent, so he’ll probably need help from Boom Herron and Boobie Dixon. Given this, the line has to be better than it has been. And if the line can hold up in pass protection, the Bills should be able to gain chunks against the Bengals secondary. 2. Will the Bills defense continue on an ascending path? I asked Rex Ryan if he thought the defense turned a corner against Tennessee and he said no, that it actually started in the second half of the Giants game. He’s right. Over the past six quarters, the Bills have allowed just 406 yards and 20 points. Of course Cincinnati presents a whole new challenge with a dynamic offense that can hurt you in so many ways. Andy Dalton likes to throw downfield, so there may be some opportunities for the Bills’ pass rush to get home, especially if CBs Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby keep playing as well as they have. One issue to be wary of is Duke Williams taking over at FS for injured Aaron Williams. 3. What can the Bills get from their walking wounded? The official injury report c ame out Friday, and it’s not pretty for the Bills. We knew Karlos Williams and Aaron Williams would be out, and joining them is special teamer Marcus Easley who was ruled out with a shoulder injury. Meanwhile, Tyrod Taylor (knee), Percy Harvin (hip), and Sammy W atkins (calf) are all questionable. None of this is a good thing for the Bills in a game against a supremely talented, undefeated team. Taylor playing seems like a long shot, but the others will probably be out there, and if they are, the Bills will need vital contributions f rom them all. 710 That’s the combined number of snaps p layed this year by defensive ends Mario Williams (360) and Jerry Hughes (350). W illiams (95.2 percent) and Hughes (92.6) rank second and third in the league in snap percentage played, behind only Houston’s J .J. Watt (97.4). 27 Plays of at least 20 yards for the Cincinnati o ffense, which is tied for the NFL lead. The Bills are third with 26 such plays. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis on his relationship with Rex Ryan: “The three years we coached together (in Baltimore), I knew of Rex when I was coaching prior to that. When we got to coach together, you enjoy each and every day, and since then our friendship has gotten closer. I just enjoy him. We handle some situations a little differently. Unfortunately, sometimes people take what he says the wrong way. He’s a good person and a fun person. He’s an excellent coach, and does a great job to get the guys to play hard for him. He’s so genuine, which is cool.” Offense Points scored: 24.8 (9th) Run offense: 128.0 (6th) Pass offense: 200.2 (T27th) Total offense: 328.2 (24th) 1st downs: 17.2 (31st) 3rd down percent: 34.3 (24th) Defense Points allowed: 21.0 (13th) Run defense: 82.2 (3rd) Pass defense: 274.0 (24th) Total defense: 356.2 (16th) 1st downs allowed: 21.4 (T18th) 3rd down percent: 34.8 (7th) Big test for Bills against undefeated Bengals When: 1p.m. today Where: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park TV: CBS NETWORK Our Bills beat writer Sal Maiorana previews and analyzes this week’s matchup AP FILE PHOTO 2011 A.J. Green, one of the best receivers in the NFL, will be a handful for the Buffalo s econdary Sunday. Three ... Numbers ... Talking points ... Bills rankings ... Ithink it would be foolhardy to play Taylor. It just wouldn’t make any sense to put him out there on an injured knee because that‘s what this is, an injury, not apain situation that he can manage. So much of Taylor’s effectiveness is rooted in his ability to be T-Mobile, and with a bad knee, he simply can’t be the same player. Without being able to move in the pocket or scramble, Taylor — at this stage of his career — is just another young quarterback. Quite frankly, without the threat of his running, I’m not sure he’s much better than EJ Manuel. He’s a little better, but it’s not enough of a disparity to risk further injury. It’s not like Taylor has five years of starting experience behind him; he has five games. Manuel’s confidence is high because he really likes G reg Roman’s offense, and if he can show anything of what he showed in the preseason, the Bills would have a chance i n this game. And yes, that’s a mighty big i f given his track record since joining the Bills in 2013. MY PICK: Bengals 20, Bills 1 6. ... and out Sponsored by: than Buffalo’s. But any defense would be a challenge for a quarterback w ith one good leg, let alone a runner like Taylor who is telling notable N FL foot magicians Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Cam Newton to move over. Of course, football players get hurt. As GEI- CO would say, “It’s what t hey do.’’ And it’s also t rue quarterbacks with knee sprains often do suit up, their knee supported b y bulky braces and enough tape to wrap a mummy. But it’s also true t hat they are usually pocket passers who can stand and deliver the ball o n rhythm. That’s just not Taylor, who wrote his own version of the Music City Miracle in Nashville a week ago, ripping off t hree 20-yard-plus runs to lead Buffalo to a 14-13 victory over the Titans. His 76 rushing yards set a team single-game record by a quarterback; he’s fourth among NFL q uarterbacks in rushing with 187 yards. If Taylor does take the field for Buffalo’s opening series against Cincinnati we can be certain of two things: Team doctors h ave determined he w on’t be jeopardizing his health (well, at least not more than everyone else) a nd Ryan and his staff have determined he won’t be jeopardizing the t eam’s chances of winning. It’s really that simple. T aylor may have waited a long time for his shot at starting and there may be a little birdie on his shoulder telling him not to let Manuel get a foot in t he door. But it’s not his call. And if he can’t go, then it’s on to Plan B and the potential for all sorts o f storylines. Here’s two to start with: 1. Manuel plays so well t hat he has to be given consideration to take over the starting job. After his encouraging preseason and after a year of sitting and dreaming of another c hance, it could happen, e specially with running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring) back in the l ineup. If wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf) also plays, and Manuel s hows an ability to involve the team’s unhappy star, I’d say a healthy d iscussion is in order. 2. Manuel falls flat on h is face at which point owner Terry Pegula turns to GM Doug Whal ey and says, “Tell me again Doug why we traded Matt Cassel to Dallas f or a fifth-round pick?” Iwas not among the p rotesters when Taylor was named Buffalo’s starting quarterback over Manuel and Cassel; Iwelcomed the fresh approach and Ryan’s open-mindedness. Bes ides, when it came to Cassel, I had seen the Kyle Orton Show before. But trade him and weaken the team’s depth? When you have a running quarterback who everyone is praying that when it comes to injuries doesn’t turn out to be the next Robert Griffin III? Taylor has already run 31 t imes – that’s 31times where he has flirted with h is season ending. Were Cassel, 33, still on the roster, I’d still f avor Manuel as the best f irst-choice to start for an injured Taylor with a w eek’s preparation. The team’s 2013 first-round pick got a raw deal from former coach Doug Marrone by being benched after four games and a 2 -2 record last season (same as Taylor's was after four games). His upside is worth exploring w ith a coordinator like Greg Roman. But I most surely d on’t want to see Josh Johnson replace Manuel if Manuel gets hurt Sunday. And if Taylor and Manuel were both out or both struggling, well, then Cassel’s 72 starts, 1 5,000 passing yards and 9 6 career touchdowns would sure look good. They sure look good to t he Cowboys, who will start Cassel after their bye with Tony Romo still s idelined. Whaley has yet to address publicly why he traded away the t eam’s most experienced quarterback,particularly s ince Cassel's contract was no longer intolerable, leaving Ryan to t wist in the wind. “I know there is criticism out there that we m oved Cassel, but we moved Cassel, as I said b efore, for EJ’s development,’’ Ryan said. “If he has to play, we’re very comfortable and confident that he’ll do a great job.’’ Explain again why you h ave to move Cassel so Manuel can develop? Why you fire the master electrician so the apprentice can learn faster? Seems to me Cassel would’ve helped Manuel and Taylor develop while giving every teammate, coach and fan peace of mind. Sorry, but Josh Johnson, now with his s ixth NFL team, isn’t doing it. G M’s making head- scratching moves. As GEICO would say, “It’s w hat they do.’’ JAMIE GERMANO/@JGERMANO1/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Bills quarterback hopeful EJ Manuel meets with offensive coordinator Greg Roman during a timeout. Bills Continued from Page 1D

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