All Eyes On Josh Allen
Any Bills fan who tells you they aren’t most anxious to see Josh Allen take the field again to try and rebound from his miserable showing against the Patriots is not being fully truthful. The question that remains, however, is when will we see him? Allen is already in Stage 4 of the concussion protocol and practicing on a limited basis.
The way Allen ran off the field last Sunday, combined with this, tells me the Bills are just trying to put on a little show to let the world know they take head injuries seriously. I fully expect Allen to be cleared by Sunday. If not, expect Matt Barkley to get the start and Davis Webb to be called up from the practice squad to serve as the back-up quarterback.
If Allen does see the field Sunday, he will need to show a lot more poise than he did vs. the New England Patriots. That will not be an easy task. Both Mike Vrabel and Dean Pees come from the Bill Belichick tree. My guess is they watched that defensive game film from the Patriots last week and use that as a launching pad for attacking Josh Allen. Teams will be doing a lot of this until Allen can prove he is willing to take what the defense gives him.
What Our Offense Needs To Be Afraid Of
The Titans have a very stout front seven. Players like Jurrell Casey could give a streaky Quinton Spain fits all game long. Cameron Wake will look to wreak havoc on Cody Ford who has been absolutely abysmal is pass protection. If the Titans can generate a pass rush while blitzing only 4-5 guys, the Bills will be in trouble. Allen cannot hold on to the ball too long or try to play hero ball.
The Titans are more than two players on defense. Guys like Brent Urban, DaQuan Jones, Rashaan Evans, Harold Landry, Kenny Vaccaro, and Kevin Byard make them very formidable against the run as well. They gave up only 58 yards on the ground last week but are averaging 104 yards against per game this season. The Bills may be wise to try and balance their attack on Sunday to take some pressure off Allen. Frank Gore can work the middle of the defense, which could open up some runs on the edge for a hopefully healthy Devin Singletary.
What We Need To Do On Offense
As stated above, Josh Allen needs to take what the defense gives him. He cannot miss easy throws in the short to intermediate areas like he did last week. Those kind of plays create shorter down and distances, get the offense in a rhythm, and softens the defense so you can take calculated shots down the field.
One thing the Bills should consider is manufacturing touches for rookie Tight End Dawson Knox. Jets sweeps, Tight End screens, misdirection plays should all be on the table. The rookie has shown he can be a dynamic player with the ball in his hands, so get the ball in his hands. Even if he is taking some of Zay Jones reps in the slot and playing a more traditional role, he still needs to be on the field a ton. Tight Ends have gone over 100 yards or scored a touchdown on this Titans defense every game this year.
One last thing the Bills need to consider is getting Robert Foster more involved in the game-plan. He wasn’t healthy last week but participated fully in practice on Wednesday. By having him on the outside, you’re giving Allen a down the field target he has had success with. Foster could be the spark we need to make a play down the field. Even if he is not that spark, it frees up John Brown to work more areas of the field. Brown and Beasley need to be the receivers in which the Bills funnel this offense through. They need to be running a variety of routes to get open and get the ball in their hands.
What To Be Afraid Of On Defense
Marcus Mariota has not turned the ball over all year. The Tennessee Titans have a plethora of talented play-makers on offense in Corey Davis, Tajae Sharpe, Adam Humphries, AJ Brown, and Delanie Walker. However, they are averaging just over 200 yards passing a game. The Bills need to make sure they aren’t giving Mariota a clean pocket to distribute the football around to his assortment of threats.
Derrick Henry is an intimidating runner. He is the kind of player that can smack you in the mouth and crush the will of your defense. Likewise, Dion Lewis is a perfect compliment to Henry as a receiving threat out of the backfield. The Bills need to keep Henry to his season average of 3 yards per carry and cannot let him run all over this defense.
That will be no easy task. The Titans have a massive offensive line. Former first round pick Taylor Lewan returns from suspension to man the left side of the line, and on the other end is another first round pick Jack Conklin. The Bills need to be wary of the middle of the line though. Big money free agent acquisition Roger Saffold and Center Ben Jones could have a field day against the smaller Ed Oliver. Tremaine Edmunds will be key. He has to get in the backfield and stop Derrick Henry before he can pick up any steam.
What We Need To Do On Defense
Even though he hasn’t turned the ball over yet this season, Marcus Mariota can be a very streaky player. If the Bills want to win this game, they need to force Mariota into some turnovers. The key to that would be to trust your defensive backs in man coverage and to manufacture a pass rush with an assortment of schemed blitzes. Force Mariota to make quick decisions. The downside to that would be Marcus Mariota’s ability to get out of the pocket and make things happen with his feet. This is also a game-plan the Bills used to an extent vs. the New England Patriots, so it won’t come as a surprise to Vrabel and offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.
Punters Will Play A Big Role
The Titans have allowed just over 15 points per game. The Bills have allowed just over 15 points per game. The Titans have a very good punter in Buffalo native Brett Kern. The Bills have a very bad punter in Corey Bojorquez. Field position could make all the difference Sunday, and the Titans have the clear advantage.
Prediction: Titans 27, Bills 13
The Buffalo Bills offensive line won’t give the Bills a chance this Sunday. With Nsekhe looking iffy, I suspect Cameron Wake will be all over Josh Allen from beginning to end. Jurrell Casey will make a similar push on Quinton Spain from the interior. While Allen will most likely learn from his mistakes and avoid turnovers, the offense will never be able to get off the ground. Corey Bojorquez will not do the Bills any favors in the field position game. By the third quarter, the defense will be so demoralized watch this offense do nothing that Derrick Henry will begin to wear them down without much resistance.
I know it is a gloomy outlook, but I have to call em like I see em. For the Bills to have a chance, the defense will need to force some turnovers in Titans territory and Corey Bojorquez will have to pretend to be a good punter for a week to push the Titans offense back in their own end.