The Buffalo Bills lost 37-5 in uninspiring fashion to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Overall, the offense turned it over five times, went 2 for 9 on third downs, and only registered 303 net yards. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll stated that “anytime you have five turnovers in a game, regardless of what game you’re playing, you’re not going to have a very good chance to win.”
That’s a given, considering the talent the Bills lack on offense.
So let’s dive into some film and break down how it all unraveled in Week 7.
On the second play of the game, Anderson hands it to LeSean McCoy on an inside zone ‘back on backer’ (BOB) call. He is forced to bounce it because center Rusell Bodine is thrown to the ground (1/3 times he ended up on the ground). McCoy smacks his head off the ground, is evaluated for a concussion and doesn’t return.
On the first third down of the game, Anderson gets the ball to WR Andre Holmes. It’s a Sticks concept, so everyone runs to the sticks and turns around. Left tackle Dion Dawkins and LG Vlad Ducasse struggle with the stunt and Anderson is hit as he releases.
Would like to see more of these run-pass option/packaged plays. You see the Colts’ safety drop into the box, so Anderson checks to the pass. It’s a deep comeback to WR Kelvin Benjamin.
Running back Chris Ivory is such a perfect fit for this offense, especially with how poorly the offensive line is blocking. Daboll dials up a Wham run here with Clay wham blocking the nose tackle. Ivory had three carries for 25 yards in the left A-gap. Don’t ask me what RG John Miller is doing.
The Bills face a 3rd-and-6 situation and run a Chip Kelly Mesh concept. The primary target is the wheel by TE Clay, then the shallow cross by WR Zay Jones, then the middle hook by WR Holmes. Clay isn’t open, and the safety drops down to take away the cross by Jones. Anderson attempts a back shoulder throw to Clay, but it goes incomplete. My issue with this play is the depth of the route by Jones. Typically, that’s a route that is four yards deep. He is supposed to use the cross by Benjamin as a pick and then climb to six yards. The shallow route doesn’t allow Jones to use the mesh portion of this concept.
Early in the second quarter, Anderson makes a quick decision to check it down when he probably could have had a bigger play down the field. Buffalo runs an NCAA concept comprised of a dig and a post. The Colts drop into a Tampa 2 coverage, and Anderson recognizes it and decides to take the easy yardage as the linebackers are retreating to their depth. Not the incorrect decision, but it clearly shows that he is reading low routes to high rather than high to low, which QB Josh Allen does.
A theme of the run game this season is the offensive linemen’s inability to get to the second level effectively. The Bills run a Power concept, so Dawkins and Ducasse should combo the defensive tackle then work to the backside linebacker (#50). On the snap, Dawkins’s footwork is trash; his right foot should split the defender like Ducasse’s. This would put them hip to hip and Dawkins in a more stable position. Dawkins should then hit the DT as he climbs to the linebacker. None of that occurs, but Ivory is still able to get a nice gain. Details…
One of Anderson’s best throws came on WR Benjamin’s favorite route, the dig. Anderson shows good eye discipline to let the backside route by Benjamin develop, then he guides the ball in there. Nice work by the vet.
Anderson checks to this inside zone run play, but Bodine is unable to sustain his block. The Bills’ offensive linemen are easily thrown off balance. They need to add some athleticism up front. Ivory is able to break the tackle and scamper for 21 yards. Seventy-three of his 81 yards came after contact!
On the very next play, Anderson fakes to Ivory and hits Clay over the middle on a play that I have referenced several times. Clay is matched up on a defensive end, but as he catches it, safety Mike Mitchell jars it loose.
This is what Daboll had to say about it, and I am sure you agree with him:
“Anytime you turn the football over, particularly down there in the scoring zone, that’s a momentum changer. I know there’s no one that’s more distraught about it than Charles. He’s a big-time team player. It was unfortunate that we got the ball stripped there and they got into it. But it’s a momentum changer. When you turn the football over, it’s a momentum changer, particularly at that juncture of the game where we were at.”
Late in the quarter and already down 21-0, the offense runs the concept of the day, the Hank concept. A Hank concept consists of a flat (diagonal) route and a curl route. In the E-P system, it’s called a D-Pivot.
Pay close attention to Benjamin as he runs the curl route; he separates nicely at the top of the stem.
With 29 seconds to go in the half, Anderson gets greedy. Rather than take the underneath stuff with one timeout in his pocket, he pushes it downfield. The Bills are in a 3×1 set with Benjamin running the dig on the backside. Mitchell is keying Benjamin the entire time.
On the second play of the third quarter, WR Jones runs an excellent route for a 15-yard gain. As he hits the top of the route, he essentially has a two-way go, so much so that when he breaks inside, the defensive back’s feet get stuck in the turf. Overall, Jones’s route running and understanding how to set up defenders has improved this season.
Here is a three-man variation of the Hank concept. Jones runs the curl, the flat is run by Ivory, and the middle curl by Clay. The Colts drop into Cover 3, so as the two linebackers expand horizontally, Anderson hits Clay on schedule.
The offense is faced with a 3rd-and-2, so Daboll decides to run an Iso play with Clay leading. On the snap, Clay finds the first opposite-colored jersey in the hole so that Ivory can get up inside for the four-yard gain. Miller once again looks lost.
This offensive line is so bad; they struggle mightily when defenses run slants or run blitzes. They are unable to mentally process and/or get their bodies in the proper position to block. The Colts slant their defensive tackle and Ducasse is unable to adjust to pick him up. Murphy is face to face with the Colts’ player as soon as he gets the handoff. Fortunately for the Bills, he makes him miss and picks up 18 yards.
Ducasse isn’t any better at pulling. On this power run play, he doesn’t know if he should pick up LB Darius Leonard or LB Anthony Walker. Look at what DE Jabal Sheard does to Mills…
Halfway through the third quarter, Anderson and the offense are in the red zone faced with a 3rd-and-7 situation. It looks like Anderson wants to work the three-man route concept to his right, but Clay gets pressed at the line of scrimmage. Colts defensive end Sheard converts speed to power, and it is just too much for Mills to handle. The pressure forces Anderson out of the pocket, and he eventually takes a sack.
The former Panther knows how to do all of the little things, such as looking off safeties and maintaining eye discipline. As the ball is about to be snapped, the Colts safety drops down into the box. That means Benjamin is isolated out wide, so Anderson gives his former teammate a shot to win.
Later in the quarter, Anderson shows that he can throw in rhythm and do it accurately. The Bills run a two-man route combination, often referred to as a Bun combination.
Anderson hits the top of his drop and hits TE Jason Croom on the back hip to save him from drifting into a big hit.
It’s the same concept they run later when Anderson is intercepted. Wide receiver Zay Jones was open versus quarters coverage, not sure why Anderson hesitated.
Running back Marcus Murphy finished with four carries for 53 yards. Thirty of those yards came on this draw play. He is a quick back and has the footwork to make guys miss.
Anderson’s final interception occurred when Andre Holmes was pushed out of bounds. He fails to fight for position, lets the corner shove him out of bounds making him ineligible, and the Colts pick the pass off. Anderson trusted that Holmes would get it, and that definitely didn’t happen.
When fans looked at the Bills’ 2018 schedule, many believed that this game was winnable. But once this team got down double digits 0n Sunday, there was no way they were going to come back. This offense lacks explosiveness from the wide receiver position. It lacks any consistency on the offensive line, and most of all, it’s had some shoddy QB play.
I’ll give credit to Anderson; while he did turn the ball over, he was able to take what the defense gave him. He hit a lot of check-downs when there was space to operate. He also took advantage of some 1-on-1 matchups outside when the opportunities arose. But he is not someone that the team should ride the rest of the season. When Allen is healthy, he should return to the starting lineup. He will have his ups and downs, but learning on the job is an experience he needs.