How to Fix the Bills’ Red Zone Woes?
On Monday, the Buffalo Bills lost to the Titians. The main topics of conversation after the game were (1) the fourth down play at the end of the game and (2) Buffalo’s lack of red zone execution. For that fourth down play, there are people on both sides of the argument – some think the Bills should have kicked the field goal and others agreeing with the decision to go for it. I am a firm believer that we should go for it there 10 times out of 10. The decision I disagreed with was the play call. Every team knows Josh Allen is amazing at QB sneaks. They also know that will be the call in that scenario. I understand keeping the ball in his hands, but there are better ways to do it.
Option/triple option plays
This is what I think the Bills should have done. To start, bring out a jumbo package (two tight ends or an extra offensive lineman). Next, bring both running backs, Singletary and Moss, into the game and put them on either side of Allen. The final player would be Stefon Diggs on the outside. The call I would have liked to see is a triple option here. The offensive line would be blocking as if it were a normal zone run play. All of the action is behind the line of scrimmage.
To start, the first option is to hand the ball to Moss and let him get the yard up the middle. If the defensive end runs inside toward Moss, then pitch the ball to Singletary. If that option isn’t there, Allen keeps the ball and puts his head down to get that yard. This would be effective because the defense would have to respect the run up the middle with Moss. There are a lot of moving parts to this play, but if run correctly, can be very effective and probably would have picked up that first down for the Bills.
Four wide receiver bunch
Another thing they could do is bring up the four-receiver bunch set from college. If you watch college football, they use a formation where there are four wide receivers in a bunch on one side of the ball. This lends itself to certain route combinations. For this to be successful, the Bills would need to run routes that work off each other, like a post-wheel or slant-out combo. The main concept is to create crossing patterns that force defensive backs to switch responsibilities or get picked off and create space for the pass catchers.
Red zone woes this season
Another takeaway from the game was that the Bills red zone performance wasn’t in line with what we saw last year and need to see this year. The Bills have had 29 redzone drives this year, converting just over 50% of these into touchdowns. Field goals don’t win games against good teams, and we saw that this week. The difference is the defensive strategy teams are using against Allen in the redzone this year. Teams have started playing more coverage in the red zone. In previous years, they would blitz Allen and he would make them pay. Now, with teams playing more coverage, the Bills need to change up their offense.
More coverage = more runs
The first thing that the Bills need to do is run the ball a little bit more. With teams playing coverage in the red zone, mix in a couple more run plays (preferably power run plays) to keep defenses honest. We need to get our interior lineman moving around and use their athleticism by having them pull and kick out defensive ends. Again, here would be another good spot for the option play. This would be a tough play for most defenses, keeping them on their toes.
With these additions to the play book, I believe that the Bills can recreate last year’s red zone success. If this team wants to win a championship, they need to finish more drives with touchdowns instead of field goals.