I'll dispense with the happy stuff first, just so people won't accuse me of being hopelessly negative.
The Bills won the opener of the Sean McDermott era Sunday, playing a solid if at times uninspiring game in a 21-12 win over the Jets at New Era Field. With the Pats losing Thursday and the Dolphins idle due to Hurricane Irma, the Bills are alone in first place in the AFC East at 1-0 after Week One.
LeSean McCoy was terrific, rushing for 110 yards on 21 carries and piling up 159 total yards in a performance reminiscent of last season. The Bills, who led the NFL in rushing yards and average the last two seasons, ran for 193 yards and 4.9 a pop before final kneeldowns. Tyrod Taylor threw for two touchdowns. The defense built on its promising preseason by limiting the hapless Jets to 38 yards rushing and 2.5 yards a carry.
So cue the "Shout" song and enjoy it while you can. The Bills honored the members of the 1992 Houston comeback game at halftime, reminding optimistic fans that miracles can occur in the NFL. Who says this can't be the season when they end the 17-year playoff drought, the longest in major pro sports?
Uh, I do.
Sorry to spoil the party, but there were some troubling signs in the opener. Keep in mind, the Jets are probably the worst team in the league. Their passing game is putrid. Their running game isn't any better. Their defense, while stout up front, is young and vulnerable in the secondary.
The Bills made some plays in the passing game, but they looked like a team that had traded away its only legitimate deep threat. Jordan Mathews and rookie Zay Jones combined for three catches and failed to get separation for much of the day. Taylor targeted tight end Charles Clay nine times and McCoy six, which suggests there will be a lot of underneath throws this season.
Taylor had a couple of passes batted down at the line, which is becoming more of an issue as teams have more film of him. He threw a couple of high throws when he seemed to be concerned about getting throws blocked. He made some good throws in the middle, but he'll struggle against the better defenses this year.
So it looks a lot like the same Bills, without Sammy Watkins. They look like a team that could lead the NFL in rushing and finish with a losing record. I believe we've seen that show before.