Apologies for this coming so late... I have been busy this morning but here is my breakdown of who helped and hurt themselves last night.
Josh Allen - The rookie is in this competition now. He was by far the best of the Quarterbacks against the Browns leading 3 consecutive scoring drives including a nice touchdown play to Rod Streater where he evaded the rush, kept his eyes scanning the endzone and found his receiver. His arm talent is unquestioned but this was a step forward on last week in terms of efficiency and comfort level in the offense.
Marcus Murphy - Murphy impressed last week and got the second go at running back after McCoy and before Chris Ivory. He didn't disappoint going for almost 10 yards a carry and then he showed his special teams ability too with a big return early in the 2nd half. It would now be a massive surprise if Murphy doesn't find himself on the final 53 man roster. I still wonder what would have happened had he been used to spell a less than 100% McCoy in Jacksonville in January.
Nick O'Leary / Khairi Lee - The battle for the Tight End spots behind Charles Clay is still very much live. Nick O'Leary had sunk to the bottom of the depth chart and needed a performance pretty badly. His second half touchdown and team leading receiving showing keep him in the mix. The problem for O'Leary is I feel like he is in a direct battle with Khairi Lee to be the second all round tight end with Croom and Thomas contesting the more split out receiving option. Lee also performed extremely well with the 2nd unit and both could yet do enough to force themselves onto the roster.
Dean Marlowe - I was less than impressed with the defensive backfield depth last week and I didn't think it was fantastic last night either. However, Dean Marlow flashed with a couple of good tackles in the open field and one important pass break up on a 3rd down and has probably edged ahead in the battle to be the 4th safety behind Hyde, Poyer and Bush.
Rod Streater - Before his injury last year Streater was lighting up camp and was on everyone's list to make the roster. His offseason has been quieter this time and I had pretty much written off his chances of making the team, but two decent pre-season showings including the touchdown last night mean he is still in contention and as others in the younger group fall by the wayside it feels like Streater and McCloud might be the last two battling for that 6th receiver spot.
AJ McCarron - Even before the news of the injury broke last night was not a good one for AJ McCarron. Getting his chance to start he oversaw four consecutive 3 and out drives. It wasn't all on him, his protection was awful (more of which later), they struggled to run the ball and the play calling didn't really help. However, there were a couple of chances to make plays and his ball placement was not good enough to find his targets. I think his chance to be the starting Quarterback of the Buffalo Bills is over.
Star Lotulelei - Sean McDermott conceded after the game that the run defence was not good enough last night as Cleveland's first unit found it far to easy to run inside on the Bills in scenes that resembled the Saints debacle from 2017. Star Lotulelei was brought here to fix those issues but last night he was totally dominated by Cleveland's offensive line. One of the knocks on him in Carolina was that he didn't always seem to show maximum effort - and that is what this looked like. Token efforts at every stage. In a word - dreadful.
Starting Offensive Line - Okay, it is not exactly a state secret that Dion Dawkins had a rough night. But newflash - Myles Garrett is really, really good. The bigger worry was inside. Bodine was atrocious at center, Ducasse wasn't blocking anyone at LG and Miller was struggling to maintain his blocks at the RG spot. It is not often that we have had to say Jordan Mills was the least bad of the starting offensive line. If we are in that situation when the real stuff starts then we are in major trouble. One thing is for sure - Ryan Groy MUST start.
Logan Thomas - He is awful. He really is awful. We are two years into this tight end experiment and he can't run a route, is a reluctant blocker, isn't that quick and he doesn't demonstrate really good hands. It is time to pull the plug. Do it Brandon, do it now. The fact that Lee and O'Leary both clearly outplayed him is a reason to knock Thomas out of this competition.
The rookie and 2nd year WRs (excluding Ray Ray) - This group was on this list last week and they have not impressed with another week of opportunity. Brandon Reilly missed the game injured and he might still have just a squeak of a chance to make the roster, but I hardly even noticed Dupre or Foster on the field and both went without a catch while Cam Phillips snagged one ball for 5 yards. Austin Proehl had a slightly better game and may yet find himself on the practice squad but the receiver battle is starting to sort the contenders from the pretenders and this group is in the latter category.
As ever TBD... let's hear your thoughts!