CBS analyst Steve Beuerlein said something in the first half of the Buffalo Bills' 31-20 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday that you rarely hear from any analyst.
He almost advised viewers to change the channel.
With the Chargers holding a 21-3 lead and heading for another score before halftime, Beuerlein said, “If the Chargers score, this game is pretty much unwinnable with a rookie quarterback in the second half.”
The Chargers scored a touchdown to take a 28-3 lead to pretty much make the game unwinnable for the Bills with rookie quarterback Josh Allen making his first start.
The Bills did score the next 10 points under Allen, which prompted Beuerlein to suggest they were back in the game at 28-13.
But I doubt even he believed what he was saying.
The primary reasons to continue watching were to see how Allen would perform in the second half and to hear Beuerlein assess his performance.
Listening to Beuerlein, who played quarterback for 16 seasons in the league for several teams, was like attending an instant film session rather than wait for Monday.
Beuerlein’s film could have been titled "The Tale of Two Quarterbacks."
On one hand, Beuerlein noted that Chargers veteran quarterback Philip Rivers could see everything the Bills defense was throwing at him. He even complimented Rivers for completing an ill-advised touchdown pass to receiver Mike Williams while two Bills defenders were in the right position.
On the other hand, Beuerlein balanced his praise for Allen with criticism of all the things the rookie failed to see and even for some of the good plays he made that could have been done better.
It was almost as if Beuerlein was offering a preview of what Bills coaches would be telling Allen Monday as they watched game film with him.
Beuerlein made it clear late in the game that he is a big Allen fan.
“I love the guy,” said Beuerlein. “I thought he should have been the first quarterback picked … I think he is going to get there. He has the skill set, the physical ability and the desire to be a great quarterback.”
However, Beuerlein also made clear the deficiencies that led to Bills coaches originally hoping Allen would sit behind Nathan Peterman for some games before becoming a starter.
Beuerelin noted the open receivers Allen didn’t see, his inaccurate passes even on some completions, and the safety blitz he was unaware of before a sack when the Charger defender wasn’t in a “normal” position on the line.
Beuerlein even faulted Allen for some things that the analyst wasn’t positive were his fault. But because he played the position for so many years, Beuerlein was pretty sure a false start from a snap count issue was Allen’s fault and so was an offensive line protection problem before a sack.
All in all, play-by-play man Tom McCarthy’s pleasant voice and Beuerlein’s analysis made what could have been a painful experience somewhat palatable. Except for one Beuerlein joke, which I will get to in my highlights and lowlights of the coverage.
Blocking Problem: I’m sure Beuerlein caused a little stir among the most sensitive Western New Yorkers when he jokingly said on a very hot and sunny day: “I don’t know if they sell sun block here in Buffalo. Do they?” Actually, it is harder to sell this team’s offensive line blocking this season.
Challenging Remarks: The second half had so many close calls that CBS’ new officiating expert, Gene Steratore, was a very busy man. He was needed to explain why the Bills got the ball back after Marcus Murphy fumbled a punt and why Taiwan Jones wasn’t called for a safety on the same play after being tackled in the end zone after losing his helmet. And he was needed to explain why the Bills lost a challenge when a Charger receiver lost the ball after his elbow hit the ground and made the play dead before the fumble.
Where Was Gene? It would have been nice if Steratore had been asked about the play that was blown dead after the Bills’ Lorenzo Alexander appeared to pull the ball away from Rivers simultaneously while having him in his grasp. McCarthy noted that it “was interesting, we just saw Josh Allen dragged down by Melvin Ingram and he’s not in the grasp and here Phillip Rivers is in the grasp.” Beuerlein noted that Allen was still moving and added that Rivers' knee might have been down. “You are right,” said McCarthy, looking at the replay. “It’s a good call.” Was it? Steratore could have told us.
Late Call: McCarthy and Beuerlein were a little late noting the Bills were out of challenges and couldn’t ask for a review of the decision to get the ball inside the 5-yard line after a Charger clearly hit a punt in the end zone back into the playing field. That should have made it a touchback. The officials didn’t decide the game, but that was one of several 50-50 calls – including an offsides against Jerry Hughes that negated a big play – that went against the Bills.
Shady Speculation: When the Bills’ Ryan Groy fell atop teammate LeSean McCoy, Beuerlein said: “Hopefully he just got the wind knocked out of him. I don’t want to speculate.” Uh, I think you just did. The Bills said today that McCoy has cracked rib cartilage.
The Nothing Is Free League: Beuerlein noted that he doesn’t like the new rule that stops a play after a defense is called for encroachment because it means a quarterback doesn’t get a free play.
More Rookie Mistakes: I heard Bills radio play-by-play man John Murphy say rookie middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds had a good first half with several tackles. That struck me as odd since he seemed to be out of place on several big plays. Sure enough, Beuerlein repeatedly said the Chargers were really taking advantage of Edmunds.
Greed Isn’t Good: When the Bills foolishly let a punt go into the end zone when two players had a good chance of stopping the ball inside the Charger 5-yard line, McCarthy noted: “They waited too long and got greedy.” Added Beuerlein: “That was inexcusable.”
Lip-reading: Beuerelin suggested that Lynn was yelling “Are you kidding me?” at the Chargers’ Desmond King II for a taunting penalty that led to the Bills first field goal. Lynn's words might have been something stronger.
Fire and Fury: When CBS' cameras caught Allen giving a pep talk to the Bills defense in the second half, Beuerlein sang his praises. “I absolutely love it. That’s what you want to see from the face of your franchise for the next 10-12 years. I love seeing that fire.”
French Lesson: Beuerlein pronounced Bills safety Jordan Poyer’s last name as Poy-aye, as if he were French. McCarthy pronounced it the old-fashioned way. After Tyrod Taylor became Tuh-rod Taylor, I’d have to hear Poyer pronounce his own name before saying which announcer is right.
Making a Statement: When Lynn went Dick Jauron-conservative and decided to punt rather than try a long field goal with a 28-13 lead, Beuerlein said he was making a statement about playing a rookie quarterback unlikely to lead a comeback.
San Diego/Los Angeles: The over-under on how many times the announcers would forget what city the Chargers play in was 10. I counted San Diego six times. I don't blame them; I typed San Diego twice before correcting myself in this column.
Breaking News: Bills General Manager Brandon Beane told the announcing team that AJ McCarron, the quarterback he traded to the Raiders, “is not what they expected him to be.” Beane also told them trading Tyrod Taylor was a “money issue” and they didn’t know if he could handle the situation of being a temporary starter before Allen takes over. Hmm. That is what Taylor has ended up being in Cleveland, which drafted quarterback Baker Mayfield six spots ahead of Allen.
Stat of the First Two Weeks: CBS flashed the statistic that Bills opponents were nine for nine in the red zone over the first two weeks.
Rubbing It In: CBS kept running statistics on crawls that showed former Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (402 yards passing) was having another great day for Tampa Bay, former Bills receiver Sammy Watkins (100 yards receiving) was having a great day for Kansas City and Patrick Mahomes, the quarterback the Chiefs picked in the first round after moving up in a 2017 trade with the Bills, was throwing six touchdown passes.
The Big Finish: Before the Bills drove for the touchdown that made the final score more respectable, Beuerlein said, “If they finish with a touchdown, that‘s a great way to end the ballgame.” Really? The game was over in the first half. I guess the lack of sun block finally got to Beuerlein's head.