The Buffalo Bills started slowly but were able to react in their 31-20 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers at the New Era Field. The Philip Rivers led offense was too much for the Bills’ defense to be able to deal with and on offense, the team again struggled to establish any type of rhythm behind a porous offensive line group. LA held a 28-6 lead at the halftime and, despite Buffalo’s efforts to come back in the game, the 14-3 finish wasn’t enough.
The 2018 home opener marked the start of the “Josh Allen’s era” in Buffalo and the rookie showed flashes of what he can become. He was aggressive all day long, pushing the ball downfield looking for first downs and being able to connect on a few big plays. When well protected, he showed patience and poise in the pocket but also scrambled for yardage or trying to buy time when needed. On the other hand, he struggled to diagnose blitzes and find open receivers quickly enough. His ball placement was less than ideal most of the time too, especially on touch passes and he made some bad decisions. All in all, it was a very good learning experience for Allen and the game never looked too big for him. He finished the day completing 18 of 33 passes for 245 yards and one score, with two INTs. He also rushed for 32 yards on eight carries.
The offense still’s a work in progress. With Allen at the helm, it looked a bit better than last week, but far from the ideal. The WR group lacks the quickness to get open and the offensive line really can’t open any holes in the running game without committing drive killing penalties. LeSean McCoy had more touches but his overall production continued to suffer because of the lack of help from the big guys up front. Kelvin Benjamin had a very quiet afternoon but at the very least caught a beautiful TD pass from Allen at the Bills’ last offensive play in the game.
The defense struggled badly early in the game for the second consecutive week. Just after the halftime, when head coach Sean McDermott took over the defensive playcalling duties, the unite resembled the 2017 group which led the team to the playoffs. He made some changes in the lineup trying to fix the issues and it worked. On one of those changes, cornerback Vontae Davis simply quit on his teammates after being subbed out and left the game, retiring at the halftime.
Overall, it was a rough afternoon for Buffalo, as expected. The Chargers are the more talented and experienced team and showed it on the field. Buffalo will have a long developmental season, continuing their strong schedule next week versus the Vikings in Minneapolis. With Allen at the helm and the defense playing as they did in the second half today, at least the team will show competitiveness going forward.