Week 2 of the 2018 NFL season officially marked the start of the Josh Allen era for the Buffalo Bills. As expected, it wasn’t pretty but the team at least showed signs of life, which is more than they could say with Nathan Peterman at the helm last week. Philip Rivers showed why he’s likely a future Hall of Famer, shredding the Buffalo defense for most of the afternoon, while the Los Angeles Chargers ran the ball almost at will, leading to a 31-20 win over Buffalo.
Here are the top four takeaways from the Bills’ second consecutive loss.
Another slow start on offense
For the first two quarters, Buffalo looked like one of the NFL’s worst teams, and by a wide margin for the second straight week. The offense couldn’t sustain drives and the defense couldn’t get off of the field. Philip Rivers consistently found advantageous matchups and capitalized on mismatches, particularly when it came to attacking rookie middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. By the end of the first quarter, Los Angeles held a 14-0 lead and headed into halftime leading the Bills 28-6.
Buffalo made some solid second half adjustments and defensively, looked more like the ‘playoff caliber’ team that we saw one year ago. Josh Allen was sacked four times in the first half and hit another five. However, he remained composed for the most part, showing excellent mobility to elude would-be sacks, extend plays with his feet and take shots downfield. It was the type of effort and no-quit attitude that made Brandon Beane & Co. so intrigued with the Wyoming product and exactly what the team needs in order to be competitive in the future.
Sean McDermott shakes things up
Unhappy with the Bills surrendering 75 points in the first six quarters of the season, head coach Sean McDermott shook things up. Veteran linebacker Ramon Humber rotated into the lineup with Matt Milano, and while the substitutions may have been just for different looks, it lasted the entire game.
On offense, rotations were also aplenty as Jason Croom and Robert Foster each saw significant playing time.
The most interesting development, however, was in secondary. Vontae Davis surrendered a touchdown to second-year wideout Mike Williams in the first quarter and subsequently removed himself from the game and reportedly retired, changing into his street clothes and leaving the stadium at halftime.
Another one is the head coach assuming the defensive play-calling duties after the halftime, resulting in the emergence of the defense during that period. The difference between the defensive performances on the first and the final two quarters was nigh and day and it happened with McDermott holding a play-calling sheet, instead of respected defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. The HC said at his press that “the team needed a spark” as the reason for his takeover. With two awfully tough away games versus the Vikings and the Packers on the horizon, will McDermott keep calling the defensive plays?
McDermott calling plays? pic.twitter.com/PWSomSeL9i
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) September 16, 2018
Welcome to the NFL, rookies
Quarterback Josh Allen and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds had a rough afternoon at New Era field. Despite possessing all the athleticism in the world, Edmunds still far from being a finished product and was picked on heavily by Rivers and the Chargers passing game. Being responsible by the middle of the field on Buffalo’s zone coverage schemes, LA took advantage of his inexperience to pick him up early and often versus shifty running backs and slot receivers. It was a tough but needed learning experience for the rookie.
The same can be said about Allen’s debut. The rookie struggled with the different Chargers defensive looks and blitzes, taking sacks, failing to find open receivers and not delivering accurate passes when able too. On the other hand, the game never looked too big to him. He calmly stood on the pocket when the offensive line allowed him to and scrambled for yardage when it was necessary. Was aggressive with his throws, always trying to move the chains. Refused to lose and motivated his teammates to do the same. Overall it was a positive experience for the rookie, one he only can have being on the field playing. Allen finished the day completing 18 of 33 passes for 245 yards one TD and two INTs. He’ll learn from his bad decisions and was rewarded with the first TD pass of his career in his last throw in the game.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) September 16, 2018
McCoy’s still struggling with lack of help
Another difficult game for the star running back. With his offensive line struggling to open any holes to him and committing penalties when he finds ways to overcome their struggles, Shady finished the day with 39 yards on nine carries. He had 29 more yards on four catches but it still wasn’t the production expected from the team’s most talented offensive player. With Marcus Murphy and Chris Ivory showing they’re another two good options in the backfield and with the lack of quick shifty WR options to play in the slot, it makes me think about the possibility of OC Brian Daboll using McCoy more in this receiving role. Not full time obviously, but I think it can be a solid option to help this struggling unite.