Greg Gabriel’s Scouts Review: Bills vs. Bengals

by Greg Gabriel, Buffalo Sports Page NFL Expert

The Buffalo Bills got a dose of reality yesterday with their 20-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in a game in which they were outplayed, but certainly could have won.

To win on the road, regardless of the opponent, a team has to play a near-perfect game.  That’s where the Bills came up short. Even though the game was a loss, it showed how far the Bills have come since last season. This is a team that right now has a chance in every game.  As long as they play their game and keep mistakes to a minimum.

Green Meant Go

The star of the game for the Bengals was All Pro wide receiver A.J. Green. As good as he played (7 receptions, 189 yards and a touchdown) he could have also been the goat. Green had a dropped pass that led to an interception, and also had a fumble after a big catch and run. Green torched rookie corner Tre’Davious White early on for a 77 yard touchdown. White being as inexperienced as he is will give up some big plays like that this year.  But he has to learn from them, as he has the talent to become a solid shutdown corner in the league.

One of the Bills problems in this game was they were unable to get enough points off of the turnovers they created. The Bills intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble but it led to only 10 Buffalo points. When a team creates that many turnovers in a game they have to be more opportunistic and score. 10 Points just isn’t enough.

Taylor Made to Look Bad

After two fairly strong games, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor had a very average outing. He completed 20 of 37 throws but for only 166 yards and a touchdown. 166 yards gained on 37 total throws just doesn’t cut it. His average per throw was only 4.5 yards.  It needs to be up over seven yards a throw for the Bills to have a chance.

The Cincinnati defense had a lot to do with Taylor’s short comings. In the past few games Taylor has been able to get outside the pocket and throw on the move or make plays with his feet. The Bengals did an excellent job with keeping Taylor in the pocket and make him beat them with his arm. That isn’t going to happen.

Not Better to Receive

All season the Bills have struggled to get the ball to their wide receivers and that again was the case yesterday. Taylor completed only three passes to his wide receivers and this was against a Cincinnati defense that was playing with backup corners most of the game because of injuries. Tight end Charles Clay being out a good portion of the game with a leg injury also didn’t help. Clay is one of Taylor’s go-to guys and without him, there was no big play receiver available. Rookie Zay Jones, while very talented, is not ready to produce. Like many rookie receivers who come from spread offenses, he is struggling to get open on a consistent basis. He needs to step up his game, especially with Jordan Matthews out.

The Bills defense had flashes yesterday, especially with the forced turnovers.  But they just didn’t play as consistently as we have seen early on this year. The Bills gave up 323 yards passing and only got one sack. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who was playing hurt, came up with big plays just about every time the Bengals needed one. The consistent intensity we have seen this year just wasn’t there yesterday.

Keep the Faith

The good news is that the Bills are still 3-2 with and tied for first In the AFC East. They have a tough home game in two weeks with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming to town after the bye.  It’s a winnable game, but the Bills have to play just about a perfect game in order to win.

Greg Gabriel

Gabriel has spent most of his adult life as an evaluator for various NFL clubs. He started his career in 1991 working for the Buffalo Bills as a part time scout under dormer Bills Director of Player Personnel Norm Pollom. He left the Bills in June 1984 to become the Great Lakes area scout for National Football Scouting. Following the 1984 season, Gabriel joined the New York Giants as their Midwest area scout and was promoted to Director of Player Development in 1996. The Giants went to three Super Bowls and won two during Gabriel’s time with the club.

Following the Giants appearance versus the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV, Greg became Director of College Scouting for the Chicago Bears under General Manager Jerry Angelo. He held that position until June of 2010. During his time with Chicago, the Bears won three Division titles and the 2006 NFC Championship. In his nine Drafts with the Bears, the team drafted 12 future Pro Bowl performers such perennial Pro Bowler Matt Forte, Tommie Harris, Devin Hester, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman.

In the 2012 – 2013 season, Gabriel was a consultant for the Philadelphia Eagles Scouting Department and has since done some small scouting roles for various NFL clubs.

Since leaving the NFL Gabriel has been a contributor for the National Football Post, the Bleacher Report and more recently Pro Football Weekly. He also is both a writer and contributor for WSCR (670the Score) in Chicago. The last three years he has authored the Pro Football Weekly Draft Guide.
Gabriel grew up in Amherst and is a 1974 graduate of Canisius College where he was a member of the football team. He and his wife Robin currently resides in the Chicago area.

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