In year two under Greg Roman, the Buffalo Bills offense is expected to reach new heights. Continuity across the board should help this unit be more dynamic this season. The Bills offensive philosophy of pound the rock paired with the vertical passing game sets up really well for the week one matchup versus the Ravens.
The Bills hung their hat on the edge run last season and it is very likely that the Ravens have the players and the film to slow the pin and pull run game down. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are the Ravens outside linebackers and they should be able to do a good job of setting the edge and containing runs. But there are ways to keep them off balance.
One way to to that is to mix in a couple Jet Sweeps or fake sweeps just to keep them honest and at home. The earlier in the game it is revealed the better. This will hold those players for a split second, and with their declining speed that could make a difference. The Panthers, Lions and Saints all showed some form of reverse in their preseason games versus the Ravens.
Using plays like reverses affects the reaction time of defensive players. The force player #90 doesn’t read the play well and the WR gets to the edge.
The Lions used it to set up the long run for Ameer Abdullah. The fake reverse holds the backside edge player #90. This will come into play when the Bills run their inside zone runs. If the edge player hesitates like he did here it could open up the cutback. The TD was called back for a hold on the TE.
If you haven’t noticed, since signing Reggie Bush the Bills have incorporated more zone run blocking into the repertoire. Why? Shady and Bush are fantastic zone runners and it is a way to attack inside seeing as how the aiming point is typically just outside the guard.
Miller zone run pic.twitter.com/wvnZnrwghI
— Cover 1 (@cover1eturner) September 2, 2016
Roman has several ways to make edge defenders half a second slow to react and he used it versus the Ravens in 2012. You may think that I am crazy to bring film out from that many years ago, but trust me it is part of the scouting process and most importantly in his play-book. The 49ers used zone read out of the pistol formation several times. In that game, the 49ers attacked the Ravens between the tackles. They only attempted 4 rushes outside.
On this play, the 49ers didn’t even have to block the Ravens best player Terrell Suggs. He is the read man. The TE arc releases to the second level and fullback Miller picks up the inside linebacker.
Look at what the split zone flow (FB blocking right) does to Ray Lewis. Lewis is reading the guard to the FB. The guard zone blocks to Lewis’ right but the FB blocks left. This is a tough read and it causes Lewis to flow to his left as the runner cuts it back. Look at the hole that was created because of Greg Roman’s play design. This is one way that he can scheme to run more efficiently up the middle.
The Bills ran a similar package in 2015 when they played the Texans. The first part of the clip Taylor doesn’t appear to be reading outside linebacker John Simon. It seems like a called handoff but Simon still has to hold because of Taylor’s ability as a runner. In the second part of the clip (Taylor’s TD) it is not a read, that is an actual QB keeper. I know a lot of fans worry about Taylor taking the hits, Greg Roman is smart and he won’t subject him to an unnecessary amount of hits.
In the passing game, the Bills may have the upper hand. The Ravens struggled last season defending passes 16+ yds or more according to Football Outsiders. They finished 31st in DVOA, which is the comparison of the Ravens’ numbers against the average of the league. Their starting corners this season are Jimmy Smith and Shareece Wright. Last years starter, Lardarius Webb is now a full-time safety and GM Ozzie Newsome added veteran safety Eric Weddle to round out a solid secondary. Having two safeties that can cover is a complete upgrade to what the Ravens had last season.
Jimmy Smith is their #1 corner and most gifted of the two starters. He is 6’2″ has long arms and excels in press man coverage. New starter and former high school teammate of Smith; Shareece Wright is who the Bills should target. Wright was released by 49ers last season and immediately signed with Baltimore. The USC alum was thrown at 52 times, allowed 32 catches for 388 yards and 5 TDs in 2015. He struggles versus speedy or shifty wide receivers.
The 5 touchdowns he gave up in 2015 were to Doug Baldwin (2x), Quintavious Patton, Torrey Smith, and AJ Green. Take a look at this big play by Torrey Smith in 2015.
Cover 0, on an island and Smith roasts the corner with a double move.
If the Bills can show the Ravens that they can connect deep it will open up other pass routes. Such as the deep comeback. Wright struggles vs. speed and on this play, he can’t contain the Colts receiver, Dorsett. This is a route that the Bills have perfected. If they can get Sammy or Goodwin matched up versus Wright they could have major success.
— Cover 1 (@cover1eturner) September 5, 2016
On this play from the Ravens preseason game Wright is matched up against Marvin Jones. Jones gets a free release and easily gets the first down.
Expect the Bills to test Wright on quick slants. On this play he is the boundary corner and plays with inside leverage. Golden Tate is still able to get inside. He sticks his right foot in the ground and drives towards the middle. Wright is left stumbling.
The Bills have a tough test in week one of the 2016 season. The Ravens have a very solid front seven who will test the Bills offensive lineman. Nose tackle Brandon Williams (6th in run stop %) is one of the best run stuffers in the league and his partners Lawrence Guy and Tim Jernigan were not far behind him. Guy was ranked 8th in run stop percentage and Jernigan 14th. So the Bills in my opinion, may have trouble running the ball.
But Tyrod Taylor should be able to do some damage. The Bills passing attack should be able to take advantage of the Ravens secondary. Specifically, Shareece Wright. Buffalo has a couple receivers who could cause him fits, especially down the field. This game will come down to how well Taylor is protected in the pocket. The Ravens were torched down the field last season because they didn’t have a pass rush. If Taylor is given time, I expect the passing game to carry them on to a win.
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