Let’s start with the highlights from today’s game:
Okay, now that we got that out of the way, let’s focus on the five reasons the Buffalo Bills lost this game.
1. Situational Football
With just under two minutes left in the first half, the Bills took possession of the football with a 7-3 lead. In these conditions, the goals are clear;
- Do not turn the ball over.
- Milk as much clock as possible; don’t give the Eagles another possession.
- Score some points before the half.
The Bills achieved none of these goals. Brian Daboll drew up a designed quarterback run with Josh Allen on third and two, and the Bills line generated absolutely no push. The defenders broke through the line of blockers and forced an Allen fumble and recovered the ball in Buffalo territory. I won’t place too much blame on Daboll here. It’s a high percentage play. However, you know the weather and your quarterback’s proclivity for turning the ball over.
The Eagles followed this up with a touchdown and then another touchdown after the half. The game was all but over at that point as the Bills could not muster much in terms of offense, and the Bills defense could not stop the Eagles rushing attack. Situations matter and the Bills’ inability to close out a half and open the next cost them dearly.
2. Stopping the Run
The Eagles ran the ball for 218 yards and three touchdowns. Doug Pederson isn’t an idiot, and he saw exactly what the Miami Dolphins were able to do to the Bills with inferior talent last week. Star Lotulelei is the most overpaid player in the NFL. He gets paid over 13 million dollars to do one thing: control the line of scrimmage. He didn’t do that today. He rarely does it. I expect the other one technique defensive tackle, Kyle Peko, to be cut by next week’s game and replaced by Vincent Taylor from the practice squad. I will withhold my judgment on linebackers like Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano until I can see something competent in front of them.
3. Generating a Pass Rush
The Bills can’t get to the quarterback and it shows. Jerry Hughes needs some help because, with no other threats, he has been contained. Ed Oliver is still progressing. Jordan Phillips does some things here and there. The rest? Absolutely nothing. They were pressing all game, over-pursuing their rush lanes, and even lining up offside on multiple occasions. The Bills have to manufacture a pass rush to get to the quarterback, and it was evident Pederson saw that and attacked the Bills with the screen game to great success because of it. Without seeing the tape the over-pursuit may have factored into the run defense being gashed as well.
4. Running the Football
The first two drives Frank Gore was running into a wall. Whenever the Bills offensive line was asked to handle the Eagles defensive line in isolation, they were manhandled. It took Brian Daboll far too long to realize they needed more misdirection to be successful and in the second half clearly didn’t have a big enough bank of misdirection plays in the arsenal to move the ball consistently. It is absolutely baffling that on a day like today Robert Foster was activated over a short area play-maker like Isaiah McKenzie.
5. Taking Advantage of a Weak Secondary
Josh Allen went 16/34 for 169 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked four times, fumbled three times, and lost one of those fumbles in what turns out may very well have been the play of the game.
By one of the league’s worst secondaries who were picking guys up off the street. They accumulated 33 yards on 24 plays after their final scoring drive. That is unacceptable for an offense in 2019. It’s on Daboll, it’s on Allen, it’s on the line, and it’s on the receivers. They need to get it together. Something needs to change.
Where do we go from here?
Believe it or not, this is not the end of the world. It was an NFC loss that puts the Bills at 5-2. Before their Thanksgiving tilt against the Cowboys, we have games vs. Washington, at Miami, at Cleveland, and vs. Denver. The Bills can continue to do what they have been and be 8-3 or 9-2 going into the Cowboys game.
If the Bills make a deadline move, I would like it to be for a player along the defensive line. In the meantime, Eddie Yarbrough and Vincent Taylor should be recalled from the practice squad to give this complacent defensive line some competition.