I thought it would be interesting to bring a different perspective to the Bills 2020 season, which kicked off with an uneven performance but a solid victory over the New Jersey Jets. As fans, the NFL season brings all of our emotions to the surface, keeps us on the edge of our seats, and makes it hard for us to be rational. That’s where I come in. As a Detroit Lions fan, I’m a #BillsMafia outsider. As your emotions and fandom cloud your vision, allow me, an unbiased observer, to offer my Monday perspective on the state of the Buffalo Bills.
1) You’re 1-0!
It wasn’t always pretty and sure. It was the Jets. But a win is a win, and in the NFL, every win is precious. This isn’t college football where style points count. A win is always good and a loss is always bad. The Bills are 1-0, and that should have you smiling today.
2) Josh Allen
Look, I don’t care about the two fumbles, and I don’t care about a couple of missed throws. I watched every single snap of the Bills offense, and Josh Allen was straight out ballin’ yesterday. He threw a career-high 46 passes yesterday and completed a career-high 33 (previous best was 24 completions). He went over 300 yards. He didn’t throw a pick. He also ran for 57 yards and a TD. With no preseason games, there was always going to be some mistakes. If a rusty Josh Allen is completing over 70% of his passes and throwing for 300+, imagine what he’ll be doing in a few weeks when he gets in a groove.
3) The Defense
No surprise here. The Bills defense barely broke a sweat on Sunday afternoon. Outside of one long pass play to Jamison Crowder, the Jets never threatened the Bills vaunted defense. Sam Darnold looks like he’s still seeing ghosts in 2020. The Bills held the Jets to 3.5 yards per carry for the afternoon. The defense was also able to create a couple of takeaways and sacked Darnold three times. All in all, a dominant performance against an overmatched opponent.
1) Tyler Bass
Well, that was a forgettable opener for Tyler Bass. I was critical of the pick when they drafted him, and I’ll admit I was surprised when he won the placekicking job. Bass missed 8 FGs in 2019 as a senior at Georgia Southern (20 for 28). His two misses yesterday were from 34 and 38 yards. It is very rare to see an NFL kicker miss multiple FGs inside of 40 yards in the same game. Bass’s two makes were chip shots from 19 and 22 yards. That is hardly confidence-inspiring. I’d be shocked if this kid keeps his job very much longer.
2) The Red Zone
The Bills dominated the Jets yet only won by 10. The scoreboard might have said 27-17, but that game certainly felt like a 38-10 kind of win. We already mentioned the missed field goals but the other problem was the offense not converting in the red zone. Some of this was due to the running game being stuck in neutral. Allen missed John Brown for an easy touchdown. If the Bills want to reach their lofty goals this year, they will need to be better in the red zone going forward.
1) The QB Runs
Josh Allen is a true dual-threat quarterback, and his legs are one of the most underrated weapons in the NFL. I don’t think most football fans realize how good of a runner he really is. But he won’t last the season if the Bills run him like they did yesterday. He took a couple of big hits, and it only takes one hit to the knee to end his season and the Bills’ dreams. The Bills drafted Zack Moss to gain the tough yards. If the traditional run game isn’t working, you have speedsters like Isaiah McKenzie and John Brown who can run a jet sweep here and there. The Bills need to make a concerted effort to limit Josh Allen’s workload as a ball carrier.
2) The Injuries
We’ll have to wait and see what the long term outlook is for Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds. I was worried about teams having no preseason games this year because it’s really hard to simulate game speed and contact in practice. All around the league yesterday we saw players dropping with hamstring problems and other soft tissue injuries. Hopefully Milano and Edmunds are fine but don’t be surprised if we see a few more minor, nagging injuries in the next couple weeks while players adjust back to game speed.
Bills fans should be encouraged after Week 1. They overwhelmed a division foe, the quarterback made obvious strides forward, and the defense was really good. Good teams find ways to win when they aren’t playing their best. Great teams still win easily when they don’t play well. Yesterday, the Bills fumbled twice on what should have been scoring drives, missed two easy field goals, went 3-8 in the red zone, ran the ball 18 times for 41 yards with their running backs, and easily left 20 points on the field. Yet, they still won by double digits in a game that was never close. We know the Bills are a good team. What I saw yesterday was a team with the potential to be great.