Week two was a roller coaster for Buffalo Bills fans. Over 400 passing yards, a lightning delay, a power outage at Hard Rock Stadium and some concerns in the defensive core all factored into a 31-28 win over the Miami Dolphins. With the win, what parts of the now 2-0 Buffalo Bills shot up and shot down this week?
1. Gabriel Davis Fan Club
In April’s virtual NFL Draft, the Bills picked Davis in the fourth round. With Josh Allen already having three strong wide receivers at his disposal (Diggs, Beasley, and Brown), many wondered where Davis would fit in the rotation.
With the odds being stacked against him, the 21-year-old turned some heads when a training camp video was published of him outpacing cornerback Tre’Davious White on a deep route. Paired with gaining the confidence of all four of the Bills’ quarterbacks, Davis earned the spot of backing up Stefon Diggs on the 53-man roster.
Flash forward to week two. After recording only 28 yards of total offense in the third quarter, Buffalo needed a spark. On third down and goal from the six-yard line, Davis ran a simple slant towards the middle of the field. With Allen rolling out to his right to escape the pressure, Davis had to change his trajectory.
After abandoning his previous route, Davis cut dead right and extended his entire body to make a miraculous catch to put the Bills ahead for good. According to Bleacher Report, one of Davis’ strengths is being a reliable red-zone target.
This one catch showed why Buffalo picked him in the fourth round. If he does not make the catch, Buffalo may be sitting 1-1 right now.
2. Stefon Diggs
Does anyone else want to question why Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott brought Stefon Diggs to Buffalo? I certainly do not because the man put on a clinic Sunday afternoon.
Diggs corralled eight receptions for 153 yards and a touchdown. Sure it was not as much as Lee Evans’ 265 yard game in 2006 against the Houston Texans, but that does not matter.
Diggs looked comfortable in Brian Daboll’s pass-heavy offense. There were a couple of miscues early in the game. Allen overthrew Diggs on a deep crossing route early in the first quarter. And with the green space in front of him, Diggs could have waltzed into the end-zone.
Looking past that, Diggs played a phenomenal game for the Bills. His ability to beat man-to-man coverage against rookie Noah Igbinoghene was on full display throughout the game.
On his first touchdown catch for Buffalo, Diggs beat the Auburn rookie off the jump with an extended drag route over the middle of the field. And all Allen had to do was drop it into Diggs’s basket, and he was gone. Some of his other superstar moments include a 47-yard catch in between two defenders and a 21-yard toe-tap that set up the John Brown touchdown reception three plays later.
There’s no denying that Stefon Diggs is making waves as Josh Allen’s favorite target in Orchard Park. It will be interesting to see how Diggs will adjust with some tougher competition coming up in the Rams and Raiders.
3. Josh Allen *Franchise QB*
Coming into the matchup, I figured Allen would have a good day. In four career games against Miami, he completed 61% of his passes totaling 913 yards, ten touchdowns and three interceptions. To see the explosion of offense from Allen’s arm was a welcomed site.
Allen was a freak of nature this weekend against the Dolphins. After setting a career high in passing yards against the Jets (312), Allen broke it with 413 yards against the Dolphins. Adding to the accolades, Allen became the first Buffalo quarterback to have consecutive 300-yard games since Drew Bledsoe in 2002.
It was not just a one-man show for the receptions either as Allen hit nine different pass catchers in the win. With that stat, Allen shows that he feels comfortable to share the offensive workload. His ability to put the ball in his playmaker’s hands shows development in his game. And it also helps when you have three strong pass catchers and a tough offensive line at your disposal.
Although Allen surprised me, there are some kinks to fix. For starters, Buffalo scored seventeen of their thirty total points in the first half. Scoring most of your points early can cause your defensive unit to be out on the field for too long. That was Buffalo’s case, as the defense was on the field for almost twelve minutes in the third quarter. To compare, Buffalo’s offense had two drives that totaled eight plays in the quarter.
There needs to be a more balanced scoring attack for this Bills offense. The team has too many weapons to only have 17 points at halftime. And with Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey coming to Buffalo next week, Allen may need all the help he can get.
1. Levi Wallace is the Answer at CB2 Position
Levi Wallace had a rough day on Sunday. Throughout the game, Miami QB Ryan Fitzpatrick would always seem to throw his way, as there was a clear mismatch. The 6-‘0″, 170-pound, Wallace, lined up against the 6’6″, 249-pound Dolphins TE, Mike Gesicki, numerous times during the game. And Wallace could not hold his own, as Gesicki snagged numerous catches.
Specifically in the third quarter, Wallace was exposed by Fitzpatrick. On first down and ten from their own 40, Miami employed a bunch formation with Gesicki out wide to the left. With Wallace in coverage, Gesicki overpowered Wallace and slipped to the center of the field on a quick slant to pick up the first down.
Then a play later, DeVante Parker exposed Wallace with a slant of his own to the left to pick up yet another first down. Wallace was about two steps behind on the play. As a defensive coordinator, these are the little things that I would talk to Wallace about.
As a result, Wallace led the team with 10 tackles today. But, there may be a growing trend that opposing QBs will avoid Tre’Davious White and instead target Wallace. If Wallace does not step up his game, he may lose his starting position once Josh Norman returns from his hamstring injury.
2. Backup Linebackers
A big hole in the defensive scheme was exposed by the Dolphins on Sunday. With Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds out, Dolphins Offensive Coordinator, Chan Gailey, called for more quick passes over the middle instead of deep passes down the sidelines. This was the bread and butter for the Dolphins offense all afternoon, stringing a couple scoring drives with these passes.
The problem is that Buffalo’s healthy linebackers, Tyrell Dodson and A.J. Klein, looked lost all afternoon. The middle of the field is where these two should have been stationed. Often times, the two would come up to the line of scrimmage to show blitz but then back off. The problem is that Dodson and Klein did not get back towards the middle of the field.
They often were funneled out to the edges, allowing Fitzpatrick to have about ten yards of turf to work with. But it was not just the passing plays that Dodson and Klein struggled with.
To make matters worse, Miami’s offensive line had a field day with the defensive line, often getting to the second level with ease on running plays. Now, this is not entirely the linebackers’ fault, but they should be able to shed the linemen and set their sights on the running back. During Miami’s late third quarter that ended in no points, Klein and Dodson tried to stop Matt Breida from scoring a touchdown.
The problem was that both players were instantly washed out of the play as Breida slithered through the B-gap. For the Bills, Micah Hyde was the only safety back and prevented Breida from finding the endzone.
Its the little things with these two that concern me. Both of them had their moments, as Dodson started the game on a hot streak with a couple tackles. But the whole defensive unit looked lost without Milano or Edmunds calling the shots for the defense. In his post-game presser, Micah Hyde addressed that the offense came up huge when the defense struggled.
“They had our backs today, as 28 points is not what we want to give up on our side of the ball, and I am thankful for them,” Hyde said during his post-game press conference.
There are going to be times where the defense can rely on the offense to lead them to victory. But it goes hand in hand, as the defense may need to pick up the slack when the offense is struggling. Factoring in that Milano and Edmunds may miss more time is damaging to this defensive unit. And if they do not iron out these mistakes in the linebacker position, it may be a long season for one of the best defenses in the NFL.
3. Letting Lower-Expectation Teams Hang Around
Listen, I get that every team the Bills face is a legit NFL franchise that can beat them any given Sunday. But these first two weeks have been heart-wrenching for me. For starters, the Bills let the Dolphins hang around until an onside kick recovery with 40 seconds left sealed the deal.
Miami looked horrible in week one against a New England Patriots defense that does not have as much talent as the Bills do. And they forced Fitzpatrick to throw three interceptions. Why couldn’t Buffalo record at least one turnover this week?
Plus, there were some mistakes on the offense that could have easily swayed the game. Dawson Knox had a great catch late in the first quarter that would have set Buffalo up in Miami territory. But he was stripped and fumbled, taking the air out of a strong drive start. And Allen almost threw an interception backed up against his own end late in the third quarter. Kyle Van Noy had the ball go right through his hands, and it could have been an easy pick-six.
Overall, a win is a win for the Bills. But with some bigger games coming up against stronger opponents, should we feel worried about the capabilities of this Buffalo team?
How did you feel after Buffalo’s week two win and who was left off of this weeks stock up and stock down? Let me know in the comments or by following me on twitter, @BenBlakely18