Every weekend after a Bills game, I log into Twitter and Facebook to see what Bills fans are thinking about their most recent game. This is the first step to my weekly article as The Buffalo Bills Outsider. After only a few minutes, I began counting the times I read the words “a win is a win.” After 30 times in about a 10-minute span, I stopped reading and had my theme for this week’s Outsider: A win is a win.
Now, I feel I must add more commentary and perspective than simply saying, “a win is a win.” After all, that’s not exactly hard-hitting data. Generally, when you start repeating the same phrase within a sentence it’s because you’ve run out of things to say. Allow me to demonstrate the mind of a Lions fan.
“Hey! Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn got fired!
“Well, business is business.”
“That means you’re in for ANOTHER rebuild.”
“Yep. It is what it is.”
“What if they hire another New England Patriots assistant?
“I guess whatever happens, happens.”
On Sunday afternoon, the Bills were cruising along to what seemed like a solid, workman-like victory. When Josh Allen scored on a three-yard touchdown run with nine minutes to play in the 3rd quarter, the Bills had a 24-6 lead and all the momentum. But we’ve seen this act before, and once again, Buffalo made things interesting with a butt-clenching and nerve-racking final quarter.
The fumbles were a bit of a fluke, as fumbles tend to be. Devin Singletary was polishing off a nice run when he got the ball knocked loose from behind. Even more flukey was the bobbled snap that Allen appeared to have picked up twice, but it kept squirting out of his hands like it was covered in KY Jelly. The interception Josh Allen threw was concerning, however. It was the exact type of decision that he’s managed to avoid for the most part this year. Throw the ball away and live to fight another down. This offense is too explosive and too good to just hand the ball to the other team.
When it was all said and done, it was a somewhat sloppy 10-point win over a team that is more dangerous than their record indicates. In fact, the Chargers have lost eight games this year. The loss to the Bills was the first time this year they’ve lost by double digits. It wasn’t always pretty, but a win is a win.
Three Unbiased Observations
1) The Defense Finally Saved the Offense
For most of the year, the Bills defense has struggled to hold up their end of the bargain. Far too often, it’s been Josh Allen and the offense needing late-game heroics because of the defense’s inability to close teams out. Sunday, the defense finally rose to the occasion. Put in bad positions late in the game by three turnovers, the Bills defense responded by only allowing the Chargers to score three points off of those turnovers. There was the big fourth-down stop, Tre White’s interception, and another great stand in the red zone to hold the Chargers to a FG in a 10-point game.
The run defense showed great improvement and was obviously a focus during the bye week. Despite the return of Austin Ekeler, the Chargers only managed to rush for 76 yards on 24 carries (3.2 ypc). When you factor in that 48 of those yards came on two carries, the other 22 rushes managed a grand total of 28 yards. Also in uplifting stats, while Justin Herbert (who looks like a future superstar) managed to throw for over 300 yards, it took him 51 throws to get there. In the end, the Bills held Herbert to his lowest passer rating of the year (75.5). Well done.
2) STOP RUNNING JOSH ALLEN ON 3rd AND 1!
Yes, I meant to write that in all caps. Brian Daboll’s playcalling has been the source of much debate the past few seasons. As an outsider, I’d say I like about 85% of his play calls and philosophy. He has some fantastically creative play calls and play designs that spring guys open for huge plays. He does tend to shy away from the run a bit too often, but that’s not his glaring sin. Brian, on third and short, every team in the league knows you’re running a designed run for Josh Allen. This may have worked in the past, but teams are wise to it now. More often than not, these plays are getting blown up in the backfield. Either get under center and run a QB sneak, or hand the ball off to one of your backs. But please just stop with the QB sweeps on 3rd and 1. You’re going to end up in 4th and 4.
Which leads me to…
3) The Run Game Was a Revelation
The Chargers boast one of the better pass defenses in the NFL, allowing only 220 yards per game through the air. The Bills have leaned heavily on the passing game throughout the 2020 season, but they came in with a great offensive game plan in this one. They leaned on the running game and specifically, the running backs. They finished the day with 172 yards at 5.7 ypc clip. Moss and Singletary combined for 20 carries for 141 yards (7.05 ypc). Josh Allen and the passing game are still this team’s fastball, but it’s nice to know there’s another pitch in the arsenal when needed.
One last thing…
For the first time in a while, I feel uplifted as a Lions fan. Sure we’ve won some games here and there over the past three seasons, but there was always a cloud hanging over this team because of the ineptitude of Matt Patricia (also known as Patriciass). Now, he’s gone, and I can feel as though there is a glimmer of hope that the Detroit Lions will be able to move in the right direction. I’m sure Bills fans can understand the misery of the Lions fans. The 20 years before Josh Allen and Sean McDermott were rough, to say the least. But with a solid GM, head coach, and quarterback, this Bills team now looks like a perennial AFC contender for the foreseeable future. With any luck, the Lions will soon find themselves on a similar path. Who knows, maybe one day, our teams will meet in the Super Bowl. Okay, let’s not get stupid.