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Preseason Opener....Panthers 25 - Bills 24

Preseason Opener....Panthers 25 - Bills 24

Matt Casell Attempts Pass Against Carolina Panthers

Preseason Opener....Panthers 25 - Bills 24
Paul "Mr. NFL" Adamo

Friday night the 2015 Bills preseason officially kicked off at Ralph Wilson Stadium with the Carolina Panthers scoring a last minute touchdown when Joe Webb threw a 42-yard pass to Brandon Wegher, then found Paul Browning for the winning two point conversion and a 25-24 Panther victory.

The outcome was not really significant, actually secondary for the Bills, as the continuing three way quarterback battle for the starting position was front and center for fans to watch, critique and analyze.

Rex Ryan and Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman are looking for consistent quarterback play from one of their quarterbacks by demonstrating the ability to throw the ball accurately with precision and running the offense without mistakes, additionally, for one of the QB candidates to occasionally make big plays in the passing game. A 'game manager' is the term used to describe this type of quarterback and last night Matt Cassel was 7-8 for 45 yards, Tyrod Taylor 5-8 for 49 yards, six rushes for 47 yards and EJ Manuel 4-8 for 77 yards. Manuel threw a 51 yard touchdown to Deonte Thompson in the third quarter but did not work with the starters and will have that chance Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns. Taylor's showed his athleticism, making plays with his feet, escaping a pass rush and running off of bootleg action. Cassel threw the ball well and showed his experience advantage in decision making from the pocket.

A variation of the West Coast, short passing game was shown by the Bills with crisp execution completing 16 of the 24 passes attempted. Spreading the ball to wide receivers, tight ends and running backs the Bills looked more prepared offensively and more efficient in the passing game, playing better in a preseason game than under the two previous coaching staffs of Chan Gailey and Doug Marrone. The running game looked solid with quick, elusive LeSean McCoy behind a revamped line showing flashes of his open field running style and two rushing touchdowns were scored by Karlos Williams and Bryce Brown. Impressive with the play calling, balanced run/pass approach on offense and effective short passing attack the Bills under OC Roman may have their best offensive mind in 15 years and someone who can manage the quarterback that will start.

The defense directed by Ryan was aggressive, and used different blitz packages which is the trademark of his defensive system. Carolina's starting unit with Cam Newton was held to 3 yards rushing in the first half. The defense is the strength of this Bills team and should keep them in games if the offense is struggling.

In two weeks when a starter is announced look for Matt Cassel to emerge. The real competition developing may be for the backup slot as Tyrod Taylor could surprise, as his added dimension as a running threat, makes him a more valuable player addition to the Bills and he edges out EJ Manuel.


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