The Bills offense made a rather sudden philosophical change on Sunday. The pass-happy Bills became a running/ball control offense Sunday. One has to wonder what role Sean McDermott had in changing the style in which Brian Daboll ran his offense. Was it a week by week adjustment? Is this the new normal? This philosophical shift came with some highs and some lows, and we will discuss them below.
Devin Singletary “Motors” The Bills Offense
After weeks of being underutilized, Devin Singletary was finally given the green light. Singletary was targeted 24 times in total carrying the ball 20 times for 95 yards and a score and catching the ball three times for 45 yards. This game-plan may very well have been opponent specific, but it shouldn’t be. It is time for the Bills to make Singletary the primary ball carrier and reduce the workload of an aging Frank Gore. A 20/10 split in carries from here on out seems appropriate.
Brian Daboll & The Short Yardage Offense
I want it to be clear I am not condoning a mid-season firing of our offensive coordinator. Brian Daboll is a modern NFL OC, and I appreciate that about him. However, his in-game decision making has me shaking my head.
Three times at the goal line in the first quarter Frank Gore was absolutely stuffed. Josh Allen finally punched it in on fourth down, but at no point in that sequence did Daboll consider play-action? A run away from Washington’s strength on the interior? A quick pass? Your players should be able to get a yard. I understand that. But if they aren’t, it is your job to try and find something else that works.
This wasn’t the only issue the Bills had in short yardage. Frank Gore was stuffed on a 4th and 1 and again on a 3rd and 1 in the second half. It was a coaching problem and an execution problem, but my anger today is squarely on the coaching. At what point don’t you switch up your play-calling? Give Washington a different look! Don’t play right into the strength of their defense? One has to wonder if McDermott told him his days of designing QB runs on short-yardage were over.
Isaiah McKenzie was active this week after sitting out last week, and he was on the field a lot. His biggest role… running the jet sweep to give the Washington misdirection looks. On almost every single McKenzie jet sweep, however, the ball ended up in the hands of the running back for a run up the middle. It was effective early but lost it’s luster because Daboll never used this play to set up anything other than a run up the middle. Had he actually given the ball to McKenzie or utilized play-action out of that set there may have been a big play in it for the Bills. At the very least it would have kept the defense honest.
Josh Allen Did His Job
Allen was not asked to do much Sunday. There is really not too much you can take from this game in projecting his ability to become a franchise quarterback. He limited turnovers. His only screw up all game was a fumble on, you guessed it, a designed run. Other than that, Allen played an efficient and clean game.
Here are some things I liked;
People like to compare Allen to Cam Newton and rightfully so. Both are big quarterbacks with erratic accuracy who can be lethal in the running game. However, about once a game Allen shows flashes of Aaron Rodgers with his ability to elude pressure and make a play down the field. If he can find more consistency in his game, it is plays like these that give me the most hope.
A few play’s previous, Allen made an even better play. Getting out of a sack and rolling right and throwing a perfect pass to John Brown who couldn’t reel it in because he appeared to have mistimed it. The near touchdown to Singletary that clunked off Josh Norman’s helmet is another example.
Feed The Playmakers
Brian Daboll comes from the New England coaching tree. He is very much set in his ways of attacking the opponent from week to week based on their weaknesses. I get that, but it’s time to feed your playmakers. The combination of Devin Singletary, John Brown, and Cole Beasley should be targeted at minimum 40 times a game. Today they were targeted 33. That’s unacceptable. Funnel your offense through your best players, and make the plethora of other niche players your complimentary weapons.
Tale of Two Run Defense
The Bills were hammered on the ground in the first half against the team from Washington. A week after surrendering over 200 yards to the Eagles, the Bills allowed Adrian Peterson to run for over 100 yards in the first half. They regrouped, however, and were able to shut Washington down in the second half. Peterson finished with only 108 yards.
The Rest of the Defense
The Buffalo Bills defensive line isn’t good, and a three-man rotation inside and out didn’t really change much. Don’t let the four sacks deceive you. They cannot get to the quarterback and it is glaringly obvious. They schemed up a few good blitzes in the second half to finish off the game, but the pressure from the guys actually paid to get to the QB has been brutal. Dwayne Haskins may have been schemed out of relevance in other ways. We will get to that in a moment, but we did not make him feel uncomfortable all game. That may fly against Haskins, but, in the long run, it won’t. A complete makeover of the defensive line is in store for 2020.
The secondary, on the other hand, was incredible. They just flat out did their jobs. They gave up nothing big, no game-breaking plays. Haskins finished a paltry 15/22 for 144 yards and no scores. There were no turnovers because as I stated above the Bills did nothing to make him uncomfortable.
The Bills are an average team playing a below-average schedule. They aren’t going to blow teams out. They just need to do their jobs like they did today and beat the teams they are supposed to beat. .500 the rest of the way gets you into the post-season, and after that, we can fix some glaring holes in the off-season. Keep stacking wins.