After losing to the New York Jets on opening day, the Bills defeated the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns in consecutive weeks. The winning streak, though small, is important, since the upcoming battles with the Pats and the San Francisco 49ers promise to be difficult.
Buffalo’s stock as a team is on the rise, and key players have definitely stepped up to provide a much-needed lift early in the season.
Similarly, some players see their stocks falling after underperforming in the first three games.
Let’s take a look at which key players are rising and falling leading into Week 4.
Kyle Williams is back and healthy this year, and boy is the defense feeling his presence.
Williams has been an absolute force inside at defensive tackle, continuously getting into the backfield and wreaking havoc on the opposition. Having already accumulated nine tackles and three sacks, he’s definitely making an early case for getting back to the Pro Bowl in 2012.
Outside of his production on the field, though, Williams’ mere presence, tenacity and work ethic set the standard on Buffalo’s defense. He’s the epitome of a leader, and the way he carries himself on the field has had an impact on youngsters like Marcell Dareus and newcomers Mario Williams and Mark Anderson.
After getting trounced by the New York Jets in Week 1, the Bills’ defensive line is gradually starting to gel. And that all starts with big No. 95 in the middle.
If Kyle Williams isn't the defensive MVP thus far, I don't know who is.
Rookie cornerback Stephon Gilmore is certainly having some struggles in his first year in the NFL. While that is to be expected of most first-year players, it’s a bit disappointing considering all the high praise he received during the offseason.
Through the first three weeks, Gilmore has had a difficult time sticking with his men downfield and making plays. The latest example was when he got beat by Travis Benjamin for a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3.
In addition, Gilmore couldn’t hold down fellow rookie Stephen Hill in a Week 1 matchup with the Jets. Hill broke out for five catches, 89 yards and two touchdowns. He hasn’t recorded a catch in two games since.
Although Gilmore still has a lot of growing to do, he fortunately has all the physical tools to succeed in this league. He just needs to continue learning from his mistakes and applying what he can from his veteran teammates.
He'll have a huge challenge in Week 4 against Tom Brady and the Patriots.
To preface this, allow me to start by saying that the Bills’ offensive line as a whole has been spectacular thus far.
The run-blocking has been tops in the league, paving the way for any and all runners toting the rock. In addition, pass protection for Ryan Fitzpatrick has been impressive, as the unit has allowed just one sack thus far.
And while the veterans have all been terrific, rookie Cordy Glenn deserves some individual recognition.
Glenn, playing one of the most difficult positions on the offensive line at left tackle, has yet to give up a sack in his first NFL season. He’s done an excellent job run-blocking and has shown that trademark agility that made him such an intriguing prospect leading up to the NFL draft.
GM Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey must have been thrilled to see Glenn available in the second round of the draft. Now, they’re hoping he can continue to develop into a franchise left tackle.
Veteran cornerback Terrence McGee is the most experienced player in Buffalo’s secondary. But he hasn’t quite been able to show it just yet.
To some, McGee was actually on the roster bubble leading up to the regular season. The 31-year-old has had trouble staying healthy, and he even restructured his contract during the offseason in an attempt to stay with the Bills.
After playing just 25 snaps against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2, McGee notched one tackle against the Browns last week. In total, he has seven tackles on the season in limited time.
Buffalo’s secondary was a hot topic leading up to the season. There’s a lot of talented youth in Jairus Byrd, Aaron Williams, Justin Rogers and Stephon Gilmore (along with Ron Brooks, who is on IR). But McGee can’t be forgotten.
He hasn’t necessarily been playing poorly, but it’s evident he’s not quite playing like his healthy self. If he can get back to 100 percent and start contributing on more plays, he’ll be a big help to Buffalo’s young corners.
While Ryan Fitzpatrick certainly hasn’t been spectacular, there’s no doubt he’s improved each week during the first three games of the year.
Against the Jets, he made poor decisions and a few costly bad throws. His matchup against the Chiefs was better, but he still wasn’t at his best. Then, in Week 3 versus the Browns, Fitz kept a lot of drives going with sharp passes and overcame the loss of C.J. Spiller early in the game.
Now, he faces his biggest test of the year against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Fitz is never going to be an elite passer, but he has the smarts to be very effective in Chan Gailey’s offense. Surely the injuries to David Nelson, Fred Jackson and now C.J. Spiller have hurt, but there are no excuses in the NFL. He’ll have to make do.
The “Amish Rifle” will have to be at his best against the defending AFC East champs this weekend. Fortunately, it sounds like Fred Jackson has a shot to play, which would be a big boost to the offense as a whole.
Regardless, Fitz needs to continue making smart decisions and taking his shots when they present themselves. If he can guide the Bills to a win this week, Buffalo would stand at 3-1 with the Pats 1-3. And that would mark his stock with a very large arrow pointing sky high.