Bills’ Defense Did Not Execute

A lack of execution and focus vs. the Redskins.


The Bills traveled to Landover, Maryland last weekend to take on the Redskins. The Bills were not mentally prepared for a team that was fighting for 1st place in the NFC East. After watching the all 22 film from NFL.com, the lack of effort, concentration and execution were blatantly obvious.

The lack of execution really cost the Bills this game. From a defensive perspective the Bills were kept off balance the whole afternoon. The Redskins did whatever they wanted to. They ran 27 times for 127 yards and 1 TD, which is an average of 4.6 yards an attempt. They allowed Cousins to play at a high level. He finished the game 22/28 for 319 yards, 4 TDs and 1 rushing TD. He continued the smart decision making that he has exhibited for the last month. He distributed the ball where it needed to be; where Washington had the advantage in the passing game. Cousins ended this game with a 153.7 QB rating which is only a few points from being perfect. The QB and the offense as a whole didn’t do anything special offensively, their players just executed the plays and came out with a 35-25 win. So lets take a look at how the Bills lack of execution led to the


TD #1 1st and goal

The Bills gave up their first TD on the very 1st drive of the game. They had seen this formation 3 times on that drive. The Redskins brought in an extra lineman and put him to the offenses right with a TE. One true WR up top and TE Reed on the bottom and one RB. The Bills believed this was a heavy run formation. They were also within the shadows of their end zone so the Bills countered with five defensive lineman and 4 LBs. Washington got the match-up they wanted, Reed vs. Rambo.

Man on man, Rambo had great position but just didn’t make the play. Great throw by Cousins.

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Bills were stacked versus the run. The Redskins have utilized this formation a lot the last few weeks. They have been quite successful because of Jordan Reed.

Reed goes up for the ball and snags it. The guy is a star if he stays healthy.

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TD #2 3rd and Goal

The Redskins are in 11 personnel vs. the Bills 3-2-6 defense. The Bills were caught in 0 man coverage-no high safeties. Cousins knew the blitz was coming. They ran a shovel pass. The shovel pass is an inside pass that is similar to a option play. The read man is the end man on the line of scrimmage-Mario Williams.

Cousins makes the right decision, he keeps the ball because of the choice by Mario.

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This angle shows how the play developed. The right side of the line blocks down. The LG pulls and leads the play. The RB takes an inside track, Cousins takes the snap and reads Mario Williams. Mario crashes and loses contain. Based on the alignment it looks like Brown has the RB in coverage which means someone has to account for the QB, if you treat this like a zone read (option) play. Without totally knowing the play-call, my guess is that Mario has the QB and or is the contain man. Therefore no one should get outside of his leverage. Assignment football hasn’t been the best this year and it was quite evident on this play.

Look at the LG pull and lead up field. He leaves the read man alone, seals the alley by blocking the first pursuit defender Preston Brown.

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TD #3 1st and 10

The Redskins are in 11 personnel vs. the Bills nickel defense. Just like last week the Bills get burned in cover 4. If you don’t know what cover 4 is, check out this breakdown. Basically, the two wide CBs and two safeties are pattern reading. The #1 WR routes to their side will determine what the CBs do The safeties are reading the routes by #2 WRs to their side. If the #1 WRs run short routes the CB lets them go and helps vs. deep vertical routes usually run by #2. The safety must drop down and cover the crossing route by the #1, so in essence the DBs switch their man coverage. That is what occurs up top with Darby and Rambo. Darby releases the #1 because he runs a shallow drag, but I believe that Rambo got lost because he didn’t cover the crosser. He instead drops to stop the deep corner route by the #2. But that isn’t what hurt the Bills here.

The motion by the WR caused Graham and Mckelvin some confusion with their reads. Depending on where the WR stops his motion, determines who is the #1 WR. The #1 stops outside, making him the #1, well he runs a deep post. Reed in the slot runs a nice double move post route. The DBs probably should’ve switched their assignments. Graham should’ve stayed with Reed and Leo with Garcon based on the simple cover 4 responsibilities. They instead switch, that on top of a late reaction by Leo to the post and Reed has the leverage to the end zone. If Graham stays with Reed the double move would’ve put him with inside leverage on the incoming post route. 

Like I said it is hard to know the play-call but this is cover 4. A coverage the Bills have used all year. It is a cornerstone coverage by Rex Ryan and is repped many, many times. But they just haven’t executed it. Last week it was the deep pass to Agholor, this week the Redskins get into the end zone vs. Mckelvin.

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The Bills bring four rushers, Hughes does a great job at getting to the QB with a bull rush. The WR routes are deep routes and you would think that we could’ve gotten to the QB. It didn’t happen and Cousins has a clean pocket and throws right no time.

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TD #4 1st and 10

At the start of the second half the Redskins come out in a twins set with an extra lineman aligned as a TE. The Bills align in a base 4-3 under cover 1 man. The Redskins run a switch route with the slot WR Jackson running a deep vertical route down the sideline. They got the match-up they wanted with a safety on D-Jax.

But to Graham’s credit he is in great position on the play and has deep help over the top. Graham uses the sideline as a defender too. Cousins purposely under-throws the ball to give Jackson a shot. Desean stops and catches the ball and uses his legs to get to the end zone.

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The play-action stops the Bills pass rushers from pinning their ears back. Cousins was in the zone in this game. The Bills defense was almost too simple to read and late to react all game. That is on the players.

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TD #5 1st and Goal

Washington is in a double tight formation with an extra lineman in the game. Same play as in the first half but with two WRs split wide. Mckelvin was out-manned all day. The Bills missed Gilmore’s physical presence when in press. He would’ve matched up well with Garcon here. WRs run fade routes.

Garcon heads to the corner of the end zone from the snap. Leo isn’t totally out of position. He peeks over his right shoulder rather than playing the man.

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Bills are in their 4-3 under defense.  Too quick of a pass to get any kind of pressure to alter the throw.

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The Bills were constantly out of position, out-matched and kept off-balance all day. The Redskins’ play-makers executed perfectly when they were called upon. The Bills players struggled on the more difficult assignments/reads and they struggled to make a play when they executed their assignments. That to me shows signs of a lack of focus. That is unacceptable in week 15. The Redskins ran plays that the Bills have seen all year. The players didn’t learn from their prior mistakes, instead they just went through the motions. This performance was embarrassing and they had to feel that way when the team watched film together. We will see if they can rectify their mistakes, because you know that the Cowboys will show a lot of these looks. They will try to keep it simple just like the Redskins, to help QB Kellen Moore. The true character of each and everyone of these players will be revealed in the next two games.

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