What We Saw: Preseason Week 1

The WWS Team recaps the first week of the NFL Preseason

Colts @ Bills

Final Score: Bills 27, Colts 24

Writer: Brett Ford (@fadethatman on Twitter)

 

The Colts and Bills faced off in Buffalo on Saturday afternoon, with the home team pulling off a fourth-quarter comeback to earn a 27-24 victory. Josh Allen and the Bills’ offensive starters took the afternoon off while Matt Ryan led the Colts’ first-team offense (sans Jonathan Taylor) onto the field for the first three drives, working into the second quarter.

Indianapolis took an early 3-0 lead, but the Bills scored a defensive touchdown on a strip sack and fumble return to take a 7-3 advantage in the second quarter. In the final two minutes of the first half, the Colts drove for a touchdown to take a 10-7 lead into the halftime break. The Colts extended their lead in the third with a touchdown (and missed extra point) before a Bills field goal made it 16-10 after the third quarter. Ehlinger led the Colts on a fourth-quarter touchdown drive before Buffalo rookie running back punched in back-to-back rushing scores as the Bills drove the field twice in the final frame to tie the game, 24-24. After another crucial Buffalo defensive stop, Matt Barkley led a solid four-minute drill, connecting with Isaiah Hodgins multiple times to allow Tyler Bass to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired.

Matt Araiza provided perhaps the most viral moment of the day, blasting a punt 82 yards (for a touchback and net gain of 62 yards), living up to his name of “Punt God.”

 

 

Indianapolis Colts

 

Quarterback

 

Matt Ryan: 6/10, 58 yards, Sack

Nick Foles: 7/11, 72 yards, TD, INT, Sack, Fumble (Lost)

Sam Ehlinger: 10/11, 88 yards, 2 TD, 2 Sacks | 4 carries, 24 yards

 

Matt Ryan got his reps in, finding Michael Pittman for a pair of receptions and checking down to Nyheim Hines a couple of times. The Colts’ first-team offense looked mediocre, registering three points on three drives, their only points coming on a field goal after a drive that began at the Bills’ 10 off an interception.

Nick Foles came in and looked rough, fumbling for a Buffalo scoop and score and overthrowing Keke Coutee on a crossing route for a pick on his first two drives. Foles finally saw some success in the two-minute drill, finding Ty’Son Williams for a receiving score to give the Colts a halftime lead.

In the second half, Sam Ehlinger took over and made some good decisions, using his feet to make a few plays in addition to his arm. He connected with Jelani Woods and Michael Jacobson for a pair of passing touchdowns. Jack Coan played the final two drives of the game at quarterback for the Colts and went three-and-out in both of his opportunities.

 

Running Back

 

Nyheim Hines: 8 carries, 26 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 13 yards

Phillip Lindsay: 5 carries, 24 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 9 yards

Ty’Son Williams: 5 carries, 10 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 15 yards, TD

 

Nyheim Hines ran well on stretch plays that he was able to reach the edge, and caught a pair of passes out of the backfield. He isn’t the up-the-middle bruiser that Taylor is, but will certainly preserve his role as a pass-catcher and spell back for Taylor. Phillip Lindsay and Ty’son Williams carried the ball five times apiece, but neither popped off. Williams ended up with a touchdown, scoring on a blown coverage in the Buffalo secondary for a 15-yard score. Price, Jackson and Verdell each picked up a carry or two as well, but nothing notable.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Michael Pittman Jr.: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 30 yards

Kylen Granson: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 29 yards

Jelani Woods: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 22 yards, TD

Alec Pierce: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 27 yards

M. Jacobson: 1 target, 1 reception, 12 yards, TD

 

Michael Pittman Jr. was clearly Matt Ryan‘s favorite target, catching two passes on a team-high three targets from Matty Ice. Parris Campbell was targeted twice but didn’t record a catch, while Alec Pierce made a pair of grabs running with the second-string offense. No Colts pass catcher finished with more than three targets or two receptions. Fantasy managers can only hope that the Indianapolis touch distribution is narrowed in the regular season.

 

 

Tight end Kylen Granson was not on the field often, but stood out every time he ran a route. On a fourth-and-eight, Granson beat Bills linebacker Terrel Bernard on a crossing route, made the catch and converted the first down with a 23-yard gain. Granson pulled in another wide-open catch later in the drive on a designed pick play in the red zone, but it was called back for offensive pass interference. He could prove to be a red zone weapon for Frank Reich, who has a reputation of targeting tight ends, especially in the red zone. Speaking of tight end targets in the red zone, Jelani Woods finished with a score and Alec Ogletree had a touchdown catch called back for OPI.

 

Buffalo Bills

 

Quarterback

 

Case Keenum: 11/18, 86 yards, 2 INT, 2 Sacks, Fumble (Lost) | 1 carry, 3 yards

Matt Barkley: 18/24, 224 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INTs, 0 Sacks, 0 Fumbles (0 Lost)

 

Case Keenum looked accurate and competent driving the Bills down the field on their opening drive, but missed a couple of tight windows in the red zone as the Bills went for it on fourth and goal and failed. On his second drive under center, Keenum’s first pass went off the hands of the veteran Jamison Crowder and straight to the Colts for a pick. After that, things went downhill for the veteran, as six of the Bills’ first seven offensive drives ended in a turnover.

Barkley jumped in for the second half, hitting Shakir for another couple passes to orchestrate the first points on a Bills’ offensive drive late in the third quarter. Barkley made a couple of mistakes, including an ugly interception, but showed a connection with rookie running back Raheem Blackshear and second-year wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins as he put together three fourth-quarter scoring drives.

 

Running Back

 

Zack Moss: 3 carries, 37 yards, 0 TDs, 0 Fumbles (0 Lost) | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 5 yards, 0 TDs

Raheem Blackshear: 6 carries, 11 yards, 2 TDs, 0 Fumbles (0 Lost) | 5 targets, 4 receptions, 60 yards

Duke Johnson: 6 carries, 9 yards, 0 TDs, 0 Fumbles (Lost) | 2 targets, 1 receptions, 1 yard

James Cook: 3 carries, 5 yards, 0 TDs, 0 Fumbles (Lost) | 1 targets, 1 receptions, 5 yards

 

Zack Moss earned the start with incumbent starter Devin Singletary in street clothes. Moss ran hard between the tackles, caught a pass and showed good vision on a 27-yard rush, cutting back and gaining the edge as the Colts’ defense collapsed on the back side. James Cook received only four touches and didn’t have much open-field opportunity on any of them. Both of Blackshear’s rushing touchdowns came late, and close to the goal line. Duke Johnson toted the ball six times as well, but offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey showed that he, like his predecessor Brian Daboll, will be slinging the rock, throwing 42 times to just 19 rushes.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Khalil Shakir: 5 targets, 5 receptions, 92 yards, 0 TDs, 0 Fumbles (0 Lost)

Isaiah Hodgins: 11 targets, 9 receptions, 77 yards, 0 TDs, 0 Fumbles (0 Lost)

Jake Kumerow: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 20 yards, 0 TDs, 1 Fumbles (1 Lost)

Tanner Gentry: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 11 yards, 0 TDs, 0 Fumbles (0 Lost)

Quintin Morris: 1 targets, 1 receptions, 29 yards, 0 TDs, 0 Fumbles (0 Lost)

 

Rookie wide receiver Khalil Shakir stood out in the passing game, creating good separation and catching five passes for a team-high 92 yards. Shakir showed true hands and an uncanny ability to get open, and could play a role in this Buffalo offense before the end of the year.

 

 

Jamison Crowder played, Isaiah McKenzie didn’t. That should indicate who is winning the slot receiver position battle. If Shakir continues his success and McKenzie wins the starting slot receiver role, does Crowder have a place on the week one roster? After signing a one-year deal this offseason, the veteran will need to show better in practice and the Bills’ two remaining preseason games.

Isaiah Hodgins caught a team-high nine balls for 77 yards, showing some chemistry with Matt Barkley, especially. Blackshear caught four passes out of the backfield, and looked impressive after the catch as well. Meanwhile, Jake Kumerow caught both of his targets, but fumbled after the catch for a turnover.

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