Here's the Bills news of note for Aug. 20th.
1 – Bills still working on timingAn offense uses training camp for one main purpose – to get in sync. In offensive coordinator Rick Dennison's offense, most routes are based upon timing. This means that Tyrod Taylor and his receivers will need as many reps as possible to ensure they're on the same page. Rookie Zay Jones said this has been a slow process.
"It's different when it's routes against air and everything is laid out for you," said Jones. "When you get press coverage, sometimes it throws timing off, and sometimes it's obviously a different look. But, that's what the preseasons is for. You just have to keep playing and keep building, and that stuff is going to come."
For a rookie like Jones, and newcomers like Andre Holmes and Corey Brown, establishing timing in a new offense is a process. Not only do they have to become comfortable with their quarterback, but they have to understand their route, and the offensive scheme. It can take countless reps before a quarterback instinctively knows where his receiver will be.
Coach Sean McDermott said that in the second preseason game some of the protection issues could be attributed to the offense being out of sync.
"There are a lot of factors that really came into play in terms of the pressure on our quarterbacks [against the Eagles]," said McDermott. "Technique is obviously one thing, beating the man in front of you and the timing of the offense has to work hand in hand with the protection and route development and the quarterback getting the ball out on time."
Building timing will only develop as Taylor becomes more familiar with his new targets. As the offense becomes more confident in the scheme, their play will start to find a rhythm.
2 – Penalties a concerning issue for Bills
After the second preseason game, there is no more denying it, the Bills have a penalty problem. Pre-snap penalties, post-whistle penalties, and mental mistakes during play plagued the Bills in their game against the Eagles. McDermott said they're trying to categorize the penalties, so they can address each area.
"I've gone back and I was going through charting every penalty and trying to put them in different categories as you try to solve problems," said McDermott. "You want to be able to say it's all one area and that's not the case. There's some discipline in there. There's concentration. There's playing aggressive without hesitation so we stay in good position and we're not in chase mode. So, there are different buckets that are factoring into the penalties, all of which are unacceptable."
The Bills ended the second preseason game with 15 penalties for 131 yards. As McDermott stated, these penalties occurred during all parts of the game. Although some of the calls could certainly be considered questionable, the Bills still committed far too many penalties. Some notable calls include a leveraging penalty on Eddie Yarbrough on a field goal, which extended an Eagles drive. Another poor penalty was a pass interference call against Greg Mabin in the end zone, which gave the Eagles the ball at the one yard line.
Jerel Worthy lamented the leveraging call, and said that McDermott said they just can't have those mental mistkes.
"When you're running out on the field and you get penalties for being combative and you're going after the ball, he doesn't really have a problem with those," said Worthy. "The dumb penalties, the pre-snap penalties, the false starts and the offsides that we have on defense, those are the ones that can hurt our team and can lead to points."
"It's something that needs to be fixed," said Wood. "I don't know if I've ever seen it to this extent."
McDermott said that he would be bringing in officials to work with the team during practice. Wood said working on penalties in practice could help.
"The game of football is a game of split-second decisions," said Wood. "You have to just train yourself in practice to just work on it. We just can't have the pre-snap and post-whistle penalties."
With officials at practice, and greater scrutiny on penalties, the Bills will certainly make a concerted effort to improve their discipline as they prepare for the Ravens.
3 – Kyle Williams graded as elite defensive tackle
Kyle Williams was ranked as the third best defensive tackle in the NFL by ProFootball Focus. Williams is in elite company behind Aaron Donald, and Kawann Short. In a graphic, Williams was given a 71.9 grade for his ability to stop the run and rush the passer.
Although a weakness last season, the Bills have showed encouraging improvement in their run defense so far in the preseason. Against both the Vikings and Eagles, the Bills were stout against the run. The Bills gave up only 66 rushing yards in the second preseason game. A big part of the Bills run stopping ability is Williams. His capacity to knife into the backfield, and disrupt plays is unmatched by many.
What makes Williams one of the best overall defensive tackles in the NFL is his ability to do it all. Not only can he stop the run, but he can also rush the passer. Williams had five sacks last season. His most productive year was in 2013 when he had 10.5 sacks – a massive number for a defensive tackle.
As the Bills defense looks for a resurgence in 2017, Williams will be one of the most important players in guiding the unit.