Didn’t the Raiders just face these guys? Why yes, they did. Though there are a few differences between the team the Raiders faced last season and this season.
There’s a new coaching staff, first of all. Sean McDermott takes over this season after Rex Ryan’s 2-year Bills tenure concluded. That alone makes this quite different as the game plan has changed.
“Well, they’re definitely different schematically,” said Derek Carr. “They have some of the same players, some different secondary players, but some of the same players up front that we’ve played against. Some familiar faces there. But, I’m trying to summarize it as a whole, it’s a little bit different because they’re not running the same things. They’re playing a little bit different style of defense – a style that I have played in my career before – but still not the same, it’s still different than the past.”
The Bills are forcing turnovers this season and taking care of the ball which is why they lead the league in turnover differential (+10).
On defense, they’ve forced 13 turnovers with a completely rebuilt secondary led by newly signed safety, Micah Hyde, who has a league leading 4 interceptions. He is flanked by rookie top pick Tre’Davious White who leads the league with 11 passes defended. White replaces Stephon Gilmore who left in free agency.
Also leaving in free agency was linebacker Zach Brown. He was replaced in the lineup by Ramon Humber, who is injured and will be replaced by Matt Milano.
As of Friday, Marcell Dareus is no longer the Bills defensive tackle. He was traded to the Jaguars for a 6th round pick. He will be replaced by the combo of Adolphus Washington and Cedrick Thornton
All told, the Bills have only four returning starters -- Kyle Williams, Preston Brown, Lorenzo Alexander, and Jerry Hughes. And their decisions on that side of the ball seem to be working so far as the defense is the primary reason they are sitting at 4-2.
The offense is another story.
The wide receiving corps for the Bills was gutted. Gone are all three 2016 starting receivers Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, and Marquise Goodwin. Leaving one of the most pathetic bunch of wideouts in the league. Jordan Matthews leads the group with a whopping 12 catches for 172 yards. Next best is Zay Jones with 7 catches for 83 yards. Neither have scored a TD this season while former Raiders wideout Andre Holmes has a couple.
Oddly enough, the Bills leading receiver is tight end Charles Clay, but he’s not playing this week, and replacing him is Nick O’Leary who started at tight end against the Raiders in their last meeting.
LeSean McCoy is still there. Sorta. He’s looking the wrong kinda shady these days, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. Quite a turn from last season when he averaged 5.4 yards per carry and destroyed the Raiders with 130 yards on 17 carries (7.6 yards per carry), including a 54-yard run.
McCoy put up 13 touchdowns last season. He’s on pace for maybe 5 this season. The whole team is on pace for 7 rushing touchdowns after scoring 29 touchdowns on the ground last season.
The Bills were without starting center Eric Wood when they met last season. He’ll be starting Sunday while at right guard John Miller has lost his starting job to Vladimir Ducasse.
So, basically, outside of the entire receiving corps, the Bills offense is mostly intact. It’s just playing like crap.