Fast 4Ward: Storylines to watch Bills Vs. Chargers

APTOPIX Bills Ravens Football_1536636033174

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Michael Crabtree, right, pulls in a touchdown pass under pressure from Buffalo Bills defensive back Phillip Gaines (28) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

After what can only be described as a disastrous start to the 2018 season, the questions we thought would be answered at least by week one, loom.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Bills, who are now preparing for their home opener against the Chargers on Sunday.

  1. Does Sean McDermott stick with Nathan Peterman?

In two of his three starts, quarterback Nathan Peterman has been downright awful.  For all the good tape he put out there in the preseason with his quick decision making and accurate throws, he undid all of that in less than three quarters of play against the Ravens as he finished with 24 total passing yards, 2 interceptions and 0.0 quarterback rating.

No, he wasn’t helped by a shaky offensive line or receivers dropping the ball, but Sean McDermott put his faith in the second-year quarterback and now the head coach is neck deep in a quarterback controversy.

When Josh Allen entered he fared no better, offensively, although the same arguments can be made he wasn’t helped by the offensive line or his receivers as he was sacked three times and had Kelvin Benjamin drop a touchdown in the back of the endzone.

Well I think when we look at the tape, and what I’ve looked at to this point, I’ve been through this a couple times already, we all have to do our job better,” McDermott said Monday when asked about Peterman’s status.  “Whether it’s the quarterback position or my position, just to name two of them, but you could go around our team and say that with all three phases, we didn’t play well enough to win the football game. Not even close.”

  1. Can the offensive line get on track?

Whether it was pass blocking or run blocking, the offensive line didn’t do Peterman or any of the running backs, any favors. 

In total, Peterman and Allen were sacked six times and hit nine times on 33 drop backs.  They were pressured countless other times, as well.

Can they play disciplined football?  The O-line had seven penalties against for 63 yards, including a personal foul/unnecessary roughness against left tackle Dion Dawkins, who was sat down by McDermott after leveling a Ravens players who looked to have his hand on Dawkins’ throat. 

Dion’s a young player, just in his second year, the early part of his second year here, and I felt it was an opportunity for… it was a teachable moment,” McDermott said Monday.  “We had the ball somewhere around the five-yard line in possibly four-down territory, and we took ourselves out of position. I felt like it was a teachable moment. I appreciate Dion and the way he handled it, as well. I’m sure it was a lesson learned and something he will grow from moving forward.”

Regardless, the lack of composure, along with the pre and post snap penalties weren’t a good look for an offensive line that was already facing criticism and scrutiny heading into the regular season.

Final tally:
4 holding penalties
2 false starts (including one on center Ryan Groy)
1 personal foul/unnecessary roughness

  1. Discipline

Did we travel back in time to the Rex Ryan Era?  Including the offensive line, the Bills were flagged 12 times on Sunday, with 10 penalties accepted against them for 100 yards in the loss to the Ravens.

It’s inexcusable for a team and head coach who preaches discipline, to have things unravel as bad as they on opening weekend and kill promising drives or keep the chains moving for the Ravens.

There was also an inexcusable neutral zone infraction by Deon Lacey on special teams, giving the Ravens a 1st down.  He was bailed out by rookie Tremaine Edmunds’ forced fumble on the very next play, which gave Buffalo the ball.

  1. Second(ary) Guessing

Vontae Davis was signed in the offseason to fill the void left by E.J. Gaines.  But, by the end of the preseason it was clear the veteran cornerback was battling with Phillip Gaines for the starting gig opposite of Tre’ White.

Davis was inactive for Sunday’s opener and wasn’t listed on the team’s injury report throughout the week.  After game McDermott said the coaching staff believed Gaines “was the man for the job.”

It’ll be interesting to see how things play out in Week 2, especially after Gaines was burned on several plays, including a 29-yard catch by John Brown and 2-and-23 and on Michael Crabtree’s touchdown near the end of the first half.

Depth is a concern at the position, even more so now that rookie Taron Johnson left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return.

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