The Bills won. That’s something, but that doesn’t say the half of it. Yes, a win is a win, but damn, this game felt like a certain game on January 3, 1993. I think I speak for all of the Mafia when I say that was one of the most intense, stress-filled, heart-attack-inducing games I have ever seen, and since this was our first big test this season, flashbacks of that Houston loss in the playoffs haunted me in the second half. But after a good defibrillating, my heart slowly came back to normal following this crazy game in Orchard Park, and I had time to think. Here are ten thoughts I think I think about the Bills’ insane victory over the Rams.
1. Josh Allen is … good?
Yes, I know PFF and ESPN and all of the talking heads will poke at Allen’s game today, and you know what? They have a right to. We saw good Josh, and we saw crazy Josh. Be honest. How many times during the game did you shout, “Throw it away!” at the screen? Josh was flustered at points in this game, and he let his emotions get the best of him, to the point that he hurt the team with a 15-yard personal foul penalty. But let’s face it. Despite crazy Josh rearing his ugly head, sometimes it takes a little craziness to win a game like this. To quote Bruce Wayne from Batman (1989), “You wanna get nuts? Come on! Let’s get nuts!” Certainly, the kid needs to learn how to throw the ball away, and his fumble issues … Well, we were lucky he didn’t have more. But when it mattered, he drove down the field, maybe got a lucky call, and came through with a game-winning TD to Kroft. Was it pretty? No. That second half was rough, but it’s not Josh’s fault. At the end of the day, we have a QB who can win when things look bleak, and any Bills fans complaining have a short memory because we haven’t had that since the Clinton administration.
2. Brian Winters had no business in that game.
I don’t know why Winters was in the game. The D-line of the Rams (Donald especially) ragdolled that big man like Epenesa did in training camp. I don’t know why Quinton Spain was not in the game, and I think McDermott and Daboll are getting a little too cute with these offensive line scrambles.
3. Is John Brown more important than Diggs?
John Brown left the game with a calf injury and sat out the second half. Though he was not the statistical guy today, Allen seemed to struggle without his favorite receiving target. And yes, I think, at least for now, Brown is his go-to guy. When Allen needs a play, he goes to Brown. I think the lack of Brown contributed mightily to the offense’s struggles in the second half. Hopefully, Smokewill return quickly.
4. Should Knox be skerred of Tyler Kroft?
Look, Dawson Knox is a great athlete, and he has plenty of potential, but the guy drops passes like Taylor Swift drops boyfriends. Kroft came in today and scored two touchdowns, including the game winner! And that “interception” … That was a hell of a catch by Kroft, though it probably was a small push-off. With Knox struggling some, look for Kroft to try to become that security blanket Allen needs. Worst comes to worst, maybe we could develop a potent two Tight End package.
5. We miss Star Lotulelei.
In the second half, Henderson and the Rams ran through our defensive line like Lee Smith blows through security at Wal-Mart on Black Friday. The fact is, we miss our big one-technique tackle on defense, and it showed today. Star doesn’t get enough love from Bills Mafia, and he doesn’t put a lot on the stat sheet, but man, when he is not there, it’s noticeable. Would it be a good idea for Beane to think about trading for a Bob’s Big Boy before the deadline? If we’re all in this year, it’s got to be considered.
6. Daboll gets a little too cute for my liking.
I like Brian Daboll. He’s been doing a great job this season coaching up Allen and that offense, but there are times, he gets like Betty Boop in his playcalling. Devin Singletary was having himself a game and was breaking off runs, but Daboll would not stick with it in the second half. Sometimes, it’s about grinding out yards, tiring the defense, and trusting your skill positions to do what they were brought here to do. Donald was not gassed because the Bills only ran at the Rams 16 times with Singletary and Yeldon averaging 5.5 and 6 yards per carry, respectively. I’m sorry, but when your team is up by 25 points, you need to pound the rock and tire out that defensive line. Daboll needs to take it easy on the gadget plays and commit to some ground and pound to wear out the defense.
7. What happened to our vaunted defense?
It was obvious, earlier in the game, the effect Milano and Edmunds have on this team. Both played well early. And last week’s goat, Levi Wallace made a great interception on Goff, breaking on the ball and getting to the spot before the receiver. But things fell apart. Now, this is a good Rams team, and they have got some good players, so it’s not a shock that the Rams came to play. But they were stymied in the first half, adjusted, and started to move the ball without incident in the second half. I love this coaching staff, but halftime adjustments are not one of their strengths: thus, the curse of the third quarter. The fact is, in the second half, McDermott was simply outcoached, and it took a heroic effort from Allen to save the day, but we can’t count on Allen to do that every week. Mr. Process is going to have to get this figured out and figured out soon, as we play a tough slate of games coming up.
8. Epenesa is showing some flashes.
Nate Asper, my podcast partner on The NFL Basement podcast, loved Epenesa in college. And watching him today, I liked what I saw. He did get a sack (though it was mostly a coverage sack), but I liked his pressures and his being around the ball today. As the game slows down for him, watch this kid turn into a real contributor. I like his motor, his strength, and his attitude, and I can’t wait to watch more game film of him.
9. T.J. Yeldon looked decent today.
Yeldon had some fumble issues last year for the Bills. Watching him today, he had both hands on the ball, and he seemed to slither through the line on his few carries like a poor man’s Alvin Kamara’s second cousin’s nephew. I love Moss, and I can’t wait to see him pop, but it’s nice to know that maybe Yeldon can contribute in meaningful snaps if we need him to.
10. The team missed Bills Mafia today.
One thing was obvious from today’s game: Bills Mafia would have been a game changer today. The team is doing all they can to get energy, and Allen is pouring every drip out he can, but when momentum shifted, energy sank, and the Mafia would have been big in helping our boys. I don’t know if we’ll get back in the stadium this season, but I hope we do because our fans are the best in the league, and not having them there is like hiking with one boot: possible, but not very comfortable.
Bonus Point: How about that Gabe Davis?
Four receptions on four targets for 81 yards … yeah, I’ll take that. Nice job, rook!
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