Here are how my five takes before the Buffalo Bills' 47-10 loss against the New Orleans Saints Sunday worked out:
1. Let go of the nightmare against the Jets. Not even close.
If anything, the Bills gripped it even tighter. They looked as if they were still at MetLife Stadium, site of that 34-21 disaster on Thursday Night Football, still being dominated on both sides of the ball.
The Bills are a shell-shocked team. They seem to have lost whatever confidence and belief they had that the new "culture" built by Sean McDermott had taken hold and replaced the mess that Rex Ryan left behind. If anything, the Bills of the past two weeks have played worse than at any time that Ryan was in charge.
If the Bills' players were having doubts about McDermott's "process" after the Jets game, and about the coaches' strategy and adjustments/non-adjustments, they are probably doing far more second-guessing now — even if no one is saying as much publicly.
2. The defense proves that it actually can tackle. Again, not ... even ... close.
The defense's tackling went from horrendous to a level of grotesque not seen from the Bills — or any NFL team — in a long, long time. Saying they even tried to tackle would be an insult to tackling. The holes through which the Saints ran to pile up 298 yards became increasingly wider throughout the game.
However bad the Bills' defense had been in the previous two years under Ryan, it never sank as low as Sunday's display. This was the kind of game that usually leads to benchings and other changes. Of course, the challenge for the Bills is finding better defensive replacements on the roster, because not a single player on that side of the ball played well.
3. The offensive line demonstrates it can actually keep Tyrod Taylor upright. Check.
Taylor was sacked only twice, compared with the seven times he was sacked against the Jets. The Saints also only were credited with three hits on him.
So what? The Bills did nothing in any phase. LeSean McCoy did average 6.1 yards per rush while gaining 49 yards, but beyond the opening drive that resulted in a field goal and the garbage yards and touchdown at end, the offense went nowhere.
Taylor finished with 56 passing yards and a career-low passer rating of 33.6 before rookie Nathan Peterman took his place late in the game.
4. Kelvin Benjamin makes a splash in his Bills debut. Not quite.
He had only three receptions, giving him a share of the team lead with McCoy and fullback Patrick DiMarco, for a club-best 42 yards. Benjamin averaged 14 yards per reception and had the Bills' longest gain through the air at 21 yards.
Otherwise, it was a pretty forgettable first game in a new uniform.
5. The run game shows it has life … unless it doesn't. Maybe, maybe not.
This is a tough one, because McCoy did average 6.1 yards per rush and he did rip off a 36-yard carry on the game's first offensive series to help set up a field goal.
But as the Saints came marching in with their dominance on the ground, piling up points and sucking the life out of the Bills, there was no reason for Buffalo to do anything but throw.
Still, this Saints' defense is vulnerable against the run and it should have been the Bills setting the tempo, especially at home. That they didn't underscores there is plenty for this team to fix through the remaining seven games.