CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The trade of Sammy Watkins really sunk in Sunday, didn’t it?
That the Buffalo Bills’ receivers made only four catches in a Week One win over the New York Jets was covered up by the explosiveness of LeSean McCoy – and the ineptitude of their opponent.
But with McCoy facing a better defense, and perhaps not himself because of groin soreness he was dealing with late in the practice week, the Bills needed someone, anyone to step up and make some plays against the Carolina Panthers.
It didn’t happen in a 9-3 loss at Bank of America Stadium. Once again, the wide receivers were all but invisible. Presumed No. 1 target Jordan Matthews had three catches for 30 yards. Andre Holmes had two catch for 18 yards. Rookie Zay Jones had the exact same output on six targets.
More on him later.
The Bills traded up in the second round of the draft for Jones. Keep that in mind when determining who was to blame for an incompletion late in the third quarter bounced off the rookie’s hands. Yes, quarterback Tyrod Taylor led him too far, but that’s the type of ball Jones is supposed to have.
This is not to excuse Taylor from blame. At this point, there isn’t any question about what the Bills have at quarterback. That’s a player who can beat the lesser teams and can’t get the job done on the road against better opponents.
But the Bills haven’t done Taylor any favors at wide receiver. Outside of those awful Jets, there might not be a trio of receivers in the NFL worse than what the Bills possess.
As preposterous as it was for as bad as they were on offense, the Bills had a chance to win the game with a two-minute drive. After reaching the Panthers’ 32-yard line, Holmes was called for offensive pass interference. Taylor scrambled for 4 yards on first-and-20, unable to find anybody open.
He threw incomplete out of bounds down the right sideline to Jones on the next play, as the rookie had no separation. On third down, Taylor again scrambled because he wasn’t able to find anyone open.
The final offensive play perfectly summarized the Bills’ problems on offense. Taylor had Jones open near the goal line, but his throw made the rookie adjust and turn his body. Jones got both hands on the ball, but couldn’t make the catch. Again.
With that, the Bills dropped to 1-1 and opened up a week’s worth of questions about what has to happen to improve an offense that managed just 176 total yards Sunday.