So all it took was one glimpse at the big, bruising, run, run, and run it again Raiders’ approach to pounding the ball to leave Buffalo’s coach more than impressed.
“Scary, is the better term,” Gailey said.
Pleased as he was to see his once-porous defense contain the run-happy Kansas City Chiefs in last weekend’s opening 41-7 victory, Gailey acknowledged the Bills’ home opener against the Raiders on Sunday will be a far more daunting challenge.
“They’re so massive up front and their backs are big and strong and (run) downhill,” Gailey said. “Last week, it was edge, hitting the crease, dip, dart. This is right at you: ‘Here we come. See if you can stop us.'”
The Broncos couldn’t stop the Darren McFadden-led Raiders, who combined for 190 yards rushing in a 23-20 win at Denver on Monday night. And yet, the Raiders aren’t looking too far ahead, because the Bills firmly have their attention given how Buffalo manhandled the Chiefs.
“Oh yeah, that caught everybody’s attention,” defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said. “Any time you can go on the road and have a victory like that, that’s going to open up a lot of people’s eyes.”
That’s not to say Kelly is overly concerned.
“The thing about the NFL is that happened last week,” he said. “They’ve got to come and deal with us now. And we ain’t the Chiefs.”
A pair of original American Football League franchises meet at Orchard Park in an early season test between two teams attempting to become relevant again.
The Bills have endured six straight losing seasons after last year’s 4-12 finish. Buffalo has not made the playoffs in 11 seasons, tied with Detroit for the NFL’s longest active drought.
The Raiders haven’t been much better. They’ve not opened a season with two straight wins since going 4-0 in 2002. That was the last time they had a winning record and made the playoffs, which ended with a loss to Tampa Bay in the .
There’s renewed hope the Raiders are finally poised for a breakthrough. Coming off an 8-8 record, first-year coach Hue Jackson has made it his objective to re-establish the Raiders’ smash-mouth reputation.
“It’s all about building a bully with Hue,” right tackle Khalif Barnes said. “We’re getting there.”
The Raiders have been rebuilt with an eye on brute force and speed.
It’s evident with their massive defensive front, anchored by Kelly and Richard Seymour. The two already made their presence felt against the Broncos in combining for three of the Raiders’ five sacks.
And then there’s a mammoth offensive front, which sometimes features a sixth lineman to better open holes for the one-two punch running attack of McFadden and Michael Bush. McFadden had three 20-plus-yard runs against the Broncos, including a 20-yarder on third-and-13, no less.
That doesn’t mean the Raiders have arrived just yet.
Discipline remains an issue after Oakland was penalized 15 times for 131 yards on Monday. Jackson brought in referees to throw flags at practice Wednesday in a bid to send a message to his players.
The Raiders also face a short week in which they have to travel across the country to face a nondivision rival, which is something they struggled with last year. While sweeping all six matchups against AFC West opponents, they went 2-8 in their remaining games.
“That’s history,” said Jackson.
The Bills might be off to a good start, but still have a dysfunctional history of their own to overcome entering Gailey’s second year.
In his first season-opening start, journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had four touchdown passes as part of a balanced attack complemented by Fred Jackson’s 112 yards rushing. The Bills led 20-7 by halftime, a year after they scored 20 points only four times in an entire game.
The retooled defense proved stout. It forced three turnovers and eight punts, while limiting the Chiefs to 213 yards offense — including a modest 108 yards rushing. That’s a significant improvement over last year, when the Bills allowed 200 yards rushing eight times.
The Raiders provide the Bills a chance to gauge how far they’ve come.
“We won’t have an answer, but we’ll have a better idea of where we are,” Gailey said.
Fitzpatrick is focused on putting the opening win behind him, saying the Bills still have much to prove.
“We’re done patting everybody on the back,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’re moving on to this week.”