There comes a time in every season where we doubt our team, where we see flashbacks of a bygone era of perpetual losing and mediocrity. Unfortunately, after so much blustering and boasting this offseason, the Bills (and Bills Mafia) were humbled by a QB who looks like a crusty old sea captain and a guy who is TikTok famous in Week 1.
Surely, there are positives we can take away from this game, but after the Ralph was packed to the gills with blue cheese boys and hot wing women, the level of disappointment felt like getting Applebee’s boneless wings (with ranch) at a Super Bowl party. Lots of teams fell flat this week. Aaron Rodgers didn’t even show up to the game in Jacksonville, but some brought about a feeling of normalcy like watching Big Mouth Baker Mayfield choke the game away against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Still, I’m in no place to gloat. This loss to the Steelers is a bitter pill to swallow, and we can only hope that McDermott has enough process for everybody this week. With all of that in mind, here are 10 things I think I think:
1.) Josh Allen regressed.
So, I know Josh is smart, but I have no idea how he created a time machine and switched places with the 2019 version of himself. That’s one small step for man … one frustrating loss for the Buffalo Bills. I know Allen was running for his life all day, and I know that Brian Daboll took a whole handful of stupid pills whilst creating this week’s game plan, but, damn, Allen looked rough.
He struggled with his accuracy all day, and his mechanics and decision-making looked like a Nick Wright, Taco Bell-fueled, wet fever dream. There will be commentary this week, and it will be annoying. Is it all on Allen? Of course not, but, man, he did not look good. I know this Steelers defense is stacked, but if the Bills hope to do much this season, Allen has to help his defense and special teams, who did a solid job in today’s game.
2.) Brian Daboll did his best Kliff Kingsbury impersonation.
Holy crap, Daboll. You barely used motion? You barely used Singletary or the run game until we were down by double-digit points in the fourth quarter? (Smart, bruh.) And you did nothing today to take pressure off Allen. You can put your QB under center. You can use play action to open things up. And on fourth and one, you have Josh, Reggie Gilliam, and a whole slough of better options than having Allen throw a pass backward. What the hell was that? I’m not saying we should be running and passing 50:50. But if you just leave Allen back there with five wide and no motion, I have a sneaking suspicion that the opposing defense has a rough idea of what the plan is that play.
3.) Buffalo’s run defense came to play.
One bright spot from Sunday’s loss was the Bills’ run defense. The titanic Najee Harris strolled into Orchard Park with expectations that he would be the next Earl Campbell. This did not come to pass. Harris rushed the ball 16 times for 45 yards. That is 2.8 YPC. Without Star on the field, I (and others) worried we would be bullied by the running game, but the Bills defense stood strong. Hell, let’s face it. The defense played winning football today. They were let down by the offense for the entire game.
4.) Taron Johnson had a hell of a game!
He wasn’t perfect, but I am continually impressed by Taron Johnson. The guy sticks his face in the fan, playing bigger than his small stature, and he was solid in coverage. Yes, he let up some catches, but he was not the problem today. He led the team in tackles and had two passes defensed. I wish every Bills player faced their opponent with as much grit as Taron does every week.
5.) Levi Wallace … not so much.
Man, I am a Levi Wallace defender, a fan … some might even say stan. But this was not his best game. Hell, Wallace got picked on like Peter Lorre in a Humphrey Bogart picture. At times, he looked lost out there, making mistakes I would hope his experience would prevent. And, no, the refs were not to blame for his subpar play. Still, Wallace has had games like this before, and he often bounces back. Let’s hope he does.
6.) Are we sure Emmanuel Sanders is an upgrade over John Brown?
Sanders had four catches on eight targets. To be fair, Allen wasn’t exactly throwing bullseyes all game … hell, sometimes he wasn’t even hitting the board, but it seemed like Sanders and Allen have some chemistry to build. I do think Sanders will improve and be good in Buffalo, but Brown and Allen had a very natural connection. I would have liked to have seen more from Sanders in his first game, but maybe that was expecting too much. Speaking of …
7.) Gregory Rousseau could not have lived up to expectations.
So, I know we all wanted to see Rousseau look like Mario Williams in his prime, blowing up QBs, but that wasn’t going to be the case. Rousseau had some moments, and he had times where he showed he has room to grow. Big Ben is hard to bring down. The guy gets the ball out of his hands so quickly, but Rousseau did contribute to the solid Bills run D. Still, he (like some others) seemed to fade a bit down the stretch as they tried to win in spite of the offense. It’ll be interesting to see him pin his ears back while we are winning.
8.) Ed Oliver … expectations …
Speaking of expectations, I wonder if Ed can ever live up to them. Obviously, the Aaron Donald comparison was inaccurate, but we would all like to see more. It’s probably not fair, but Oliver just hasn’t shown himself to be the game-wrecker we’d hoped for. He had some nice plays against the run today with one solid tackle for loss, and he had a QB hit. If he continues with his solid but not eye-raising play, I wonder how Beane will see him when he reaches the end of his rookie deal.
9.) Devin Singletary was in rare form … it’s almost as if we should have used him more.
Maybe the only bright spot on the Bills offense was the play of Devin “Motor” Singletary. He looked quick, shaking fools, and busting tackles, and he finishes the game averaging 6.5 yards per carry. Last I checked, that was pretty good. Sadly, he only ran the ball 11 times. Nothing else was working, but, yeah, let’s just keep throwing. Why Zach Moss was out of the game, I have no idea. Breida brought little to nothing to the game (zero catches, and four rushes for one YPC). I’m all for a pass-first, throw it all over the yard offense, but make the defense guess once in a while. I’d love to see what Singletary could do with more opportunities toting the rock and wearing out defenders.
10.) Offensive Line? We don’t need no stinking offensive line!
I know the Steelers defense is really good, and their defensive line is really good, but the Bills offensive line looked like they spent the offseason eating Cheetos and playing World of Warcraft. Dawkins did not look healthy, and Williams and Feliciano got whipped so much that a family court has ordered TJ Watt and Cameron Heyward to pay child support to their moms. This was an awful showing for this offensive line, and if they look like this all season, if this is the best we can expect, I am going to have to drastically modify my win total prognostications.
Thanks, y’all for reading! If you have any thoughts on this game or my commentary, please feel free to hit me up at @AdamNannini on Twitter. Now, let’s lick our wounds, fix what ails us, and get back at them next week! Go Bills!