The Buffalo Bills are 7-3. Despite being in the driver’s seat for an AFC Wildcard birth, the Bills players and coaches will be the first to tell you that they have plenty of areas in which they will need to improve.
Since his introductory press conference, Sean McDermott has thrown around the word “process” as his go-to mantra. The idea behind “the process” is to approach your craft with a growth mindset. Growth mindset is a philosophy which touts that you learn more from your failures than you do your success, and in the long run it makes you better. Today Sean McDermott was the embodiment of that mantra.
The Bills have had far too many “close calls” on their road to 7-3. Despite playing inferior competition the Bills had to this point been unable to pull off a convincing victory or show a “killer instinct” to put away an inferior opponent. McDermott learned from his mistakes over that stretch. On Sunday, the Bills were finally able to produce that convincing win and put an inferior opponent away with their 37-20 thrashing of the Miami Dolphins. Here is how they did it;
A Statement Drive From The Offense
The Bills final scoring drive of Sunday’s game that culminated in John Brown’s second touchdown may have been their most defining drive of the season.
Jakeem Grant scored on a wildcat run to close the lead to 30-20 with 14:35 remaining in the fourth quarter. As Bills fans we had seen this script play out a dozens of times this season. We were all bracing for the “run-run-pass”, milk the clock, trust the defense vanilla garbage that had kept inferior opponents within striking distance all season.
That did not happen today. Sean McDermott and Brian Daboll made a calculated philosophical shift. They were aggressive, they came out throwing, and within five minutes the Buffalo Bills had regained their 17 point advantage via a Josh Allen strike to John Brown.
The goal for the Bills offense now should be to make this aggressive philosophy the norm, not the outlier. Taking this approach consistently will bring your ball club to a whole other level, and start to get the Buffalo Bills national attention as a legitimate threat in the AFC.
The Defense Utilized Scheme to “Wreak Havoc”
Anyone who has followed their careers will tell you that Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier are not aggressive. They believe in sound fundamental defensive football. All eleven players playing in unison to keep the game in front of them and avoid the big play. Their defenses don’t take risks, even against inferior opponents. That changed Sunday.
This Bills defense was unlike anything we have seen in McDermott’s three years in Buffalo. The Buffalo Bills were scheming blitzes on almost every play, not relying on their natural talents. Lorenzo Alexander came off the edge on dozens of plays. Tre White got in on the action from the secondary. Edmunds and Milano were blitzing from the interior and running stunts with the likes of Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips wreaking havoc on the Miami offensive line. They made Ryan Fitzpatrick’s life a living hell en route to a seven sack performance.
They didn’t just play to keep the game in front of them and do just enough to win. They played to blow the doors off the Dolphins. Instead of relying on their natural abilities to coast by an inferior opponent, they used scheme to feast on them. That’s not something a Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier led defense does. While this philosophy won’t hold up against better lines and more competent quarterbacks it was nice to see. It will give future opponents something to think about while watching film, and something the Bills can utilize in isolation to generate a pass rush against their better opponents. It is an approach we should have been using all season, and one we need to see again against our inferior competition.
The question that needs to be answered over the rest of this season is whether the Bills will utilize this schematic aggression consistently, or whether it was just a flash in the pan.