Here are my three thoughts on Saturday night's Buffalo Bills-Baltimore Ravens preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium:
1. Tyrod Taylor needs to make a strong comeback. Sure, it's only preseason. Even the third game of the summer schedule, when teams are supposed to make their final preparations for the regular season, is still a game that doesn't count.
But for Taylor, this third preseason game should carry a bit more weight than others in which he played the previous two years as the Bills' starting quarterback. After an ugly showing against the Philadelphia Eagles last week, Taylor must make amends. He can't have two stinkers in a row, especially with this being his last game until the Bills open the regular season Sept. 10 against the New York Jets. Taylor doesn't necessarily need to be great, but he can't be awful, especially with the Bills' starters are expected to remain in the game into the third quarter.
His confidence in himself, as he continues to learn a new offense while working with mostly new receivers, depends on it. So does the confidence of his surrounding cast and coaches. They respect Taylor's incredible work ethic, but it wouldn't hurt for him to show that he's better than the guy who two interceptions (and nearly a third), who had more than a few passes leave his hand late, who didn't show a whole lot in the way of command and presence.
2. The offensive line has to find a way to protect better. Taylor's problems against the Eagles weren't all his own doing. He dealt with a great deal of pressure, because the Bills' blockers were overmatched multiple times.
With rookie Dion Dawkins starting at left tackle in place of Cordy Glenn, who is still dealing with a sore left foot, things could get interesting. Meanwhile, Jordan Mills, who has shared time on the right with Dawkins, is likely getting his final chance to make the case that he should start. If Dawkins isn't forced to fill in for Glenn into the regular season, he could end up in the No. 1 spot at right tackle against the Jets.
But the Bills need better play from tackle than they've been getting this summer. The fact Vlad Ducasse, and not John Miller, is starting at right guard against the Ravens is hardly encouraging. The coaches couldn't have been happy with what they saw from the line as a whole, so they're trying a different combination to see if that will make even a slight difference.
3. The defense has been the most encouraging part of the Bills' preseason. It has a chance to finish on a strong note against the Ravens, whose quarterback, Joe Flacco, remains out while recovering from a back injury.
The Bills' starting D can make a little bit of a statement here, closing out the summer with the kind of game that can help provide what follows the word "but" in the conversation that typically begins, "The Bills look like they're giving up on this season, but that defense ..."