Excited about a preseason game? Me too

August 16, 2018
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What is happening to me? What have I become?

I’m really looking forward to the Buffalo Bills' second preseason game against the Cleveland Browns. Weird, right?

Look, I know all about Jeremy White’s preseason pledge and I remember being kind of excited when E.J. Manuel directed a two-minute drill scoring drive in Indianapolis back in August of 2013. So I’m trying to temper this new-found enthusiasm for an exercise I would normally rather skip.

However, there’s a lot to sink your teeth into here. Obviously that begins with Josh Allen and when and with whom he plays. The seemingly unprecedented amount of skepticism surrounding Allen makes any time he steps on the field must-see TV. Will he throw a falling backwards up for grabs pick-six on a screen pass? Will he launch a 70-yard touchdown rocket to a Bills receiver? Maybe both? Tune in to find out.

Next on the list for me, and a pleasant surprise through (I know, one meaningless preseason game), is the variety we saw from offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s scheme. Lots of different formations and personnel groupings shuttled in and out of the game against the Carolina Panthers and the offense moved crisply and performed well. This was enhanced by the effectiveness of the quarterbacks but maybe, just maybe, the quarterbacks threw the ball well in part because Daboll’s offense makes sense to them and presents obvious easy options as to where to deliver the ball. This really is something to watch as we head into another game. More positive signs in this regard certainly won’t guarantee that it carries over into September, but it would at least be encouraging.

The opponent for preseason game No. 2 even provides a little more than the usual throwaway. If you’re watching HBO’s Hard Knocks, you are probably a little more into the Browns than you ever thought you’d be. Not that the tension that appears to be present on the Browns coaching staff is likely to manifest itself in any discernible way in this game, it still makes them more interesting than most teams.

Then there’s the matter of the Cleveland quarterbacks. We, at some point, will see No. 1 overall draft pick Baker Mayfield in this game. If we’re lucky, Mayfield will be playing at the same point of the game that the Bills choose to use No. 7 overall pick Josh Allen. Comparing every single thing each of them do and overreacting will be fun and probably stupid, but whatever. It’s August and who isn’t up for some stupid fun?

Of course, there’s the small matter of Cleveland’s starting quarterback. None other than Tyrod Taylor. His supporters amongst Bills fans will go see, look at what we gave up when Taylor extends a drive with his elite running ability or hits a couple of passes. Taylor’s detractors will point and yell at their televisions when Taylor doesn’t pull the trigger fast enough and spins himself into a sack. Again, more fun.

What more could you ask for out of a NFL (sort of) game in August?

One other note. If you haven’t checked out the Bills Embedded show over at Facebook Watch, I highly recommend it. Whether you’re a fan of the “process” or more of a skeptic about all of that, it’s a window into Sean McDermott and how he handles himself. Yes, it’s a team production. Yes, this sort of thing is made to make the organization, and in this case, the head coach look good. So decide for yourself how large a grain of salt you want take it with. I came away with one word to describe how McDermott comes off in the 18-minute piece.

Command.

It was hard not be be impressed.