Buffalo Bills vs Kansas City Chiefs: Top 5 Things Buffalo Learned

Dan Van Wie@@DanVanWieContributor IIISeptember 11, 2011

Buffalo Bills vs Kansas City Chiefs: Top 5 Things Buffalo Learned

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    The Buffalo Bills were able to gain some revenge, and then some, by defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 41-7 to open up the 2011 NFL regular season, with a hard fought victory on the road.

    The road win was the first time in 15 years that the Bills opened up a season with a road victory. Maybe this is a sign that things are starting to change for the better for the Bills organization.

    The Bills dominated the Chiefs in all aspects of the game. They passed for more yards, ran for more yards, won the time of possession battle, created more turnovers, had more sacks and basically demoralized the Chiefs in front of a home sellout crowd.

    The game marked the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, and there was a moving tribute to start the game, as the NFL had special ceremonies held all over the league in remembrance of those that are no longer with us.

    We will now address the top five things that we learned from this contest.

Bills Offensive Line Held Up Very Well

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    The Buffalo Bills offensive line did a stellar job on Sunday. For starters, they opened up enough holes to allow Fred Jackson to rush for 112 yards on the day. The Bills running game was dominating in this contest, as they outrushed the Chiefs 163-108 yards.

    In addition, Ryan Fitzpatrick was afforded time to pass and was only sacked once for the entire game, that by Chiefs sack master Tamba Hali—no embarrassment in that.

    Rookie Chris Hairston got some valuable experience today. The Bills will need to work new tackle Sam Young into the rotation. He was declared inactive for the first game, as he is still very new to the team.

    The other factor that was evident was that the Bills were able to use the ground game to control the clock, as the Bills enjoyed a big advantage in time of possession (37 minutes to 23 minutes for the Chiefs). The added time on the clock allowed the Bills to wear down the Chiefs defense, while the Bills defense stayed fresh.

    This is just one good showing, but it is the possible start of something good developing for the Bills. They will have to keep it going next week against the Raiders to keep the momentum going.

The Bills Rush Defense Is No Longer Worst in the League

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    Coming into the contest, it was clear that the Bills needed to contain Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles and force the Chiefs to beat the Bills by throwing the football. Chan Gailey had stated during the past week that the total number of yards they gave up on the ground wasn't as important to him as was how many yards per rush did the team surrender.

    Well, the Bills wound up giving up 108 yards in 18 rushes for an average of 6.0 yards per rush. I am pretty sure that Gailey will not be jumping for joy when he sees that average, as that is just way too high. But, considering that the Chiefs were the No. 1 rushing team in the NFL in 2010, and the Bills had been allowing close to 170 yards per game, he has to be happy that the Bills knocked off more than 60 yards off of their normal total.

    The Bills defense this year is bigger, stronger and does a better job of controlling the line of scrimmage. All of those things are needed to be a better team against the run. Learning how each guy is expected to do his job in the 3-4 defense is something that the newer Bills on defense will be working on as the year continues. Perhaps the Bills not allowing teams to go over 100 rushing yards for the game is the next goal.

    The Oakland Raiders will be bringing in another strong rushing team in to Buffalo next week, so the Bills rush defense can't relax for a second.

Who Was Going to Step Up to Replace Lee Evans?

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    When Lee Evans was traded away to the Baltimore Ravens, the Bills fans were wondering who was going to be able to step up and take his place. The answer for now appears to be that it will be anyone's guess from one week to the next. The other answer is that the guy that will step up is whoever is open.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick spread the ball around today as three different receivers came up with at least 60 yards in receptions. They were Stevie Johnson, David Nelson and Scott Chandler. Donald Jones also caught a touchdown pass, Chandler caught two touchdowns and Johnson had a touchdown as well.

    Fitzpatrick completed passes to six different receivers, completing 17 passes for 208 yards, which is an average of 12.2 yards per catch. If the Bills can maintain that average, that will bode well for the rest of the year. Marcus Easley was inactive for the game, and Roscoe Parrish and Brad Smith did not catch a pass, so there is still more parts that the Bills passing offense will be unveiling as the weeks roll by.

    I don't know if it is possible for any opponent to focus on anyone else in the Bills pass offense outside of Steve Johnson. Ryan Fitzpatrick has confidence in his receivers and will not hesitate to throw the ball to anyone that he thinks is in position to make a play. That is a healthy attitude, and makes it harder for opponents to figure out tendencies or trends.

    This was a great start for the Bills passing attack.

How Healthy Is Shawne Merriman?

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    This photo was the only tackle that Shawne Merriman registered for the game against the Chiefs. Merriman injured his shoulder in the first quarter, but he did return later to the game. He just did not appear to be the same Merriman who we had seen in spurts during the preseason.

    The Bills will need the old "Lights Out" Merriman to return to help raise the defense to another level. The Chiefs offense was without Tony Moeaki and Jonathan Baldwin, and we really don't know for sure how healthy Cassel was today.

    When the Bills face Tom Brady, Michael Vick, Tony Romo and Eli Manning, they will need to demonstrate a stronger pass rush. For the game, the Bills did register two sacks, one by Spencer Johnson and the other by Bryan Scott. Marcell Dareus did not have a sack, but he did have two tackles.

    Veteran Terrence McGee injured his hamstring and did not return. Rookie Aaron Williams was thrown into the fire and made a number of plays. Good thing that the Bills have so much depth on the defensive side of the ball this year, because there will always be injuries that happen in a game that is so physical.

Ryan Fitzpatrick Is Back and Better Than Ever, and the Bills Do Have a Tight End

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    The Bills' win today does not guarantee that they are going to have a top-five draft pick, but it also means that they are probably a better team than a lot of people predicted they would be this year. So, by that generalization, it means that the Bills will probably not be in a position to draft Andrew Luck. With that being the case, we watched Ryan Fitzpatrick play the first game of his final year under contract with the Bills.

    If he follows up the Chiefs game (threw four touchdowns) with another strong outing against the Raiders, the price to re-sign Fitzpatrick will keep going up and up. That should be fine because the Bills are so far under the cap.

    They have also announced that they started negotiating new contract talks with Steve Johnson as well. But Fitzpatrick is a guy that you should want to take care of, and not make him wonder as to what his future will be.

    Fitz came out as the old gunslinger we have come to appreciate. He threw the ball up there for his receivers to make a play on the ball. No pass demonstrated that better than the touchdown to Steve Johnson.

    The final thing to cover from the game was that the Bills do actually have a tight end on the team. His name is Scott Chandler. For years I have been hearing that the Bills don't use a tight end in the Chan Gailey offense.

    That is definitely true when you don't have a tight end on the roster, which is basically what the Bills had here for the past two years. Now that Buffalo has a big target in a guy like Chandler, and newly claimed Lee Smith off of waivers, expect to see more passes to tight ends this year.

    We learned that the Bills are becoming a better team. They need to keep the momentum going next week against the Raiders, or else they will take a step back. Feel free to leave your thoughts about the game.