Tre Day, Tre Day, Tre Day
Tre White is an above average “do it all” cornerback in the NFL. He can play man, zone, and in really any defensive scheme. I have spoken in the past about how in the modern NFL we need to redefine the term shutdown corner to extend to players like Tre White. Over the past few weeks, White has been fitting his game into the old definition by adding an element to his game that was missing: turnovers.
Tre White quite literally won the Buffalo Bills the game today. Had it not been for his red zone interception, the Dolphins could have put the Bills into a hole they would not have been able to climb out of. To follow that up with a forced fumble on the next drive that led to a game-sealing touchdown was just icing on the cake. Today’s MVP was Tre White and no one else comes close.
The Rest of the Defense Struggles
In the first half, Bills fans witnessed first hand what it looks like when your developing quarterback isn’t being bailed out by his defense. Luckily for the Bills, both units turned it around in the second half. That doesn’t mean there isn’t cause for concern though, especially on defense.
Levi Wallace was targeted heavily by Ryan Fitzpatrick and was beaten over half a dozen times over the course of the game. Whenever the Dolphins needed a first down, they targeted Wallace. Fitzpatrick appeared to be the first quarterback to get in the heads of the safety tandem of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. They were beaten on a few occasions by Mike Gesicki and were late helping out the likes of Wallace.
We mused last week on The Bills Guys podcast that the lack of a pass rush could come back to bite the Bills defense at some point. That some point was today. The Bills failed to generate any kind of a pass rush against the putrid Miami offensive line. When they did finally get to the QB late in the game, Fitzpatrick was able to make the defenders look silly and slip away to make plays. The Bills need to consider making a trade for an edge rusher or change up their philosophy a little bit to help manufacture more of a pass rush.
Matt Milano was sorely missed. Maurice Alexander was too small to fill the linebacker role. It was a big part of why Mark Walton was able to run on the Bills to great success. If the Bills don’t feel confident in Corey Thompson’s health or abilities behind Matt Milano, they need to seriously consider calling street free agents Deone Bucannon and Zach Brown in for a look.
Still No Statement Win
You could argue the Bills biggest statement this year came in a loss. They have played inferior competition in their five wins and are yet to dominate any of those games from start to finish.
One could argue this is a testament to the culture Sean McDermott has created. The Bills used to lose some of these games and would be 3-3 right now as opposed to 5-1. You could also argue that the Bills cannot possibly keep this up, and it will catch up to them down the stretch run. Or that even if they do make the playoffs, they won’t be there long because they wouldn’t be able to hang with the class of the AFC. I will leave that up to you to decide and be happy with the 5-1 start and cautiously optimistic for the future.
The Offensive Philosophy
The Bills made it harder than they had to today on offense. Despite running all over the Dolphins porous defense, the Bills only attempted 18 carries between Gore and Singletary.
Brian Daboll and company are treating Josh Allen like he is Aaron Rodgers. The emphasis is clearly pass first and run second. There is sound reasoning in doing that. You want to find out whether he is, in fact, your franchise guy. You do not want a Marcus Mariotta situation where you have babied the guy for years and have no idea what you’ve got.
However, this was a game you could not lose, and up until Tre White’s heroics, they were going to lose it. If they would have run the ball more, they likely would have scored more points in the first half, controlled the clock, and given the Dolphin’s fewer possessions and wouldn’t have needed White’s heroics. The one play that sticks out the most was an awkward misdirection slant on 3rd and 1 in the red zone that fell incomplete. Dawkins was called for holding and dropped them back, and they eventually kicked a field goal two plays later. Just run the ball down their throats, Daboll!
Let’s start with the bad. Allen was and has been atrocious throwing the ball downfield. He missed both John Brown and Andre Roberts deep by feet in this game and the latter would have been an easy touchdown. Allen just does not look comfortable throwing deep. He continued to hold the ball a little too long on occasion looking to make a play. It didn’t come back to bite him against the weak Dolphins defense, but it could rear its ugly head in the future.
Now for the good. Allen is making smarter decisions running the football without losing his effectiveness. He is hitting guys short and giving them room to run, as evidenced on nice chunk plays by Gore and McKenzie. He continues to work the intermediate field well hitting the likes of John Brown and Duke Williams for notable gains. He would have had another nice intermediate throw had Dawson Knox not dropped a pass right in his hands. He also continues to be a weapon in the red zone as evidenced by his two-point conversion.
Two touchdowns, zero turnovers, 7.8 yards per attempt: not a bad day for Allen when all is said and done.
John Brown, Wide Receiver One
John Brown caught 5 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. He is on pace to have 88 catches, over 1200 yards, and 5 touchdowns. That is impressive.
The Bills face their biggest test of the season outside of New England as they welcome to town a now 3-4 (and likely motivated) Philadelphia Eagles squad. Will Jim Schwartz once again be carried off New Era field on his players’ shoulders, or will Josh Allen step up and send the Bills to 6-1?