Well, this game sucked. Like a lot. There was so much hype going into it because we all know that the Buffalo Bills are the much better team. They just didn’t show it Monday night. The pain is infinitely worse because it’s the Patriots. The Pats have made the Bills their bitch for years and that hope that started to build last season has turned to ash. I hate the Pats!
A cold, and very windy Buffalo set the stage for Monday’s game. The Patriots, sitting atop the AFC at 8-4, came to Orchard Park hoping to keep that crown. Spoiler alert: They did just that. So what happened?
1) Daboll (and McDermott) are coaching scared on offense
At first we blamed Josh Allen, but a slow start led to our MVP-caliber QB making a comeback. Then we blamed the receivers, but Sanders and Knox emerged as exactly the kind of targets needed. The blame then shifted to the O-Line, which still needs improvement, but Josh Allen can deal with that. Then the run game, which does enough to get those first few yards, either with the backs or JA.
At this point, everything wrong with the roster has either improved or is the best it’s gonna get this year. The job of a coach is to literally use what they have and mold it into something resembling a team. Daboll and McDermott have not done that.
Does everyone remember that game last season where the Bills did not run the ball in the first half? Why? Because they didn’t have reliable backs. So the coaching staff, rightfully, used what they had and played to their strengths. I see none of that this season. None.
In this game, the weather was perfect for the ground game. If the backs aren’t reliable, why was there absolutely no designed runs for the 250lbs, $258mil QB? Why was Beasley not targeted? Why send a kicker out for a 33 yard FG into the wind, knowing that there was no way it would be made?
There is absolutely no excuse why a team with this many offensive weapons should be held to just 10 points and 230 total yards. It’s embarrassing.
2) Red Zone = Dead Zone
Surprisingly, this season’s RZ scoring offense is on par with last season (62.70% and 61.40%, respectively). But it’s still awful. Despite the way the game was called, the Buffalo Bills managed to make four red zone trips, but only scored once. One touchdown. Again, absolutely no excuse. Davis, Beasley, and Knox were all made for the red zone, Josh Allen has legs, and Breida is right there. With this many options, each of those opportunities should’ve been six points.
3) DEFENSE IS NOT THE PROBLEM
The narrative that this loss is on the defense is, quite frankly, bullshit. Yes, the run defense needs some improvement, but they were impressive. They allowed just 241 total yards, limiting what is an explosive offense to just 14 points. That kind of stuff isn’t a regularly occurring thing in today’s NFL.
I don’t like to cherry pick stats, but if you eliminate that 64-yard TD run, it brings the total yards down to just 177. The Patriots converted just two of 12 third downs. They had one red zone attempt. Just one. They were forced to kick instead. It took 46 attempts for the Pats to rush for 222 yards, that’s an average of 4.8 yards per rush. For comparison, the Bills, with a mediocre ground game, had 4.0 yards per rush.
But, by all means, go on with your narrative that the Buffalo Bills defense lost this game.
4) Josh Allen is earning that extension
Using the terms “windy” and “cold” to describe the weather in Buffalo on Monday night are understatements. There were 30+ mph winds and the temperature fell from 25 degrees at kickoff to teens by the final whistle. How many QBs do you know that would even attempt to make throws in those conditions, much less with the accuracy that Allen had.
A few unfortunate drops and a couple of misplaced throws would bring Allen’s passing stats down. However, to even attempt 30 passes and complete 50% of them in those conditions is stud material. He is proving that he deserves that extension, while simultaneously disproving the theory that he needs a dome. (This is not good for me because I am very much team dome.)
5) Dane Jackson stepped up
Losing Tre White for the season was a gut punch and very concerning. All throughout the offseason, one position on everyone’s mind was CB. The depth just wasn’t there.
But Jackson has put that to rest for now. Watching through the game again and keeping my eye on him, he was just straight impressive. Next week’s game will show exactly what he’s made of. But, if this Monday night’s game was any indication, hopefully we won’t be missing White too much.
Impressively, this game has actually given me hope that things can get better. If Allen and the receiving core can play to that standard in these conditions, they can play anywhere. This was already known, but it was nice to get the confirmation. And that defense is one of the best in the league. I said it in early weeks and I’ll continue to say it.
Ultimately, the Buffalo Bills’ success boils down to the play-calling. And, after what McDermott said postgame, I think this is going to be a wake up call for him and Daboll. I’m looking forward to next week.