For the Buffalo Bills, there was a lot of anticipation coming into the 2019 season. Seemingly an underdog to all, the organization overhauled the offense with players like John Brown, Cole Beasley and rookie Devin Singletary while adding a key piece on defense with rookie Ed Oliver.
In the week one victory against the New York Jets, head coach Sean McDermott proved it’s a team he can win with. How often, though? After a sloppy first half, it looked like the same Bills teams fans have come to roll their eyes at for years. After a strong second half, the tide changed to ‘how good could we be’?
If week one is our answer, there are still a lot of questions to ask after an offseason of roster turnover.
Too soon for conclusions?
One of the biggest questions, personally, was on offense. What will the progression look like from Josh Allen going into his sophomore season in the league? Much of that answer tied into a second question: how will the new offensive weapons gel in offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s offense?
I’m not one to form conclusions after one week. In Buffalo’s case, they played an opponent with a brand new identity, starting with new head coach Adam Gase. While McDermott is familiar with Gase, having faced him twice a season while Gase was the head coach in Miami, it wasn’t the same team. Gase has a plethora of weapons he didn’t have in Miami starting with running back Le’Veon Bell and linebacker C.J. Mosley.
Looking at the final score, the 17-16 Bills win will tell a casual fan that Buffalo squeaked out a win, which is true. On the road against a divisional opponent, the Bills had no business coming back from a 16-point deficit with the way their offense played early on which included four turnovers in the first half.
Instead, the Bills, backed by a great defense, defied odds and used new weapons like Brown and Singletary to carry them back. And, yes, a great fourth-quarter performance from Allen, too.
While this game will weigh heavily on Buffalo’s season outcome, there’s no conclusion to form yet. Does the defense look great? Yes, but against a new offense playing their first full game together. Did Allen struggle? In the first half, mightily, but he ultimately led Buffalo back to score 17 unanswered points on the road to win. That doesn’t mean he’s neither progressed or regressed.
One thing fans can start getting excited about are two rookies who look to have a significant impact on the 2019 campaign.
Oliver, Singletary ready for the spotlight
Fans love to see two things in week one — first, a victory. Second, their rookies to ball out. Bills fans got the best of both worlds this week, and they get a chance to double down on both when they head back to the Meadowlands next week to take on the New York Giants.
Taking a step back to this offseason, the writing was on the wall for Kyle Williams. Retirement loomed, and the Bills lost not only a great player but man in the organization. While he’s still around the facility, Williams’ departure was bound to hurt on the field.
That was until Oliver fell to general manager Brandon Beane in last April’s NFL Draft. Playing in 65% (47/72) snaps in his debut, Oliver didn’t light up the box score. His presence was felt though, recording two solo tackles and multiple quarterback pressures. Sort of reminds you of his predecessor, doesn’t it?
Sunday’s game was the first time since 2005 that Williams wasn’t on the Buffalo roster on game day. The outlook for Oliver looks to help ease that transition.
On the other side of the ball, Buffalo was missing another veteran. While many foreshadowed it, LeSean McCoy looked to be on his way out all offseason. It took until after week four that Beane, McDermott and the rest of the offensive coaching staff was ready to move on. The one responsible for his departure was Singletary.
Singletary played in 48/69, or 70%, of the snaps for Buffalo, the most out of any Bills running back. Next closest? Frank Gore had just 19 touches while T.J. Yeldon had only two. While Singletary had more field time, Gore out-touched Singletary 11-9.
That doesn’t paint the picture you need to see.
Outside of Brown, Singletary had the most productive day on offense. On only nine touches, Singletary ran the ball four times for 70 yards and caught five passes for 28 yards. On all four carries, he had runs of 20, 23, 12, and 15 yards each. All carries came in the second half after Gore struggled to take the pressure off Allen and the passing attack.
It’s just one week, but Singletary made sure to make each opportunity count. And while McCoy did his thing for the Kansas City Chiefs, Singletary showed the promise Bills fans wanted to see.
Tyler Olson is a writer for PFN covering the Buffalo Bills. You can follow him @to2471 on Twitter.