The Buffalo Bills stripped Washington of its command, decimating the Commanders en route to a 37-3 victory. A dominant, suffocating performance by the Bills defense forced a terrible performance by the Commanders’ offense, and the Bills offense did what they needed to do to stay ahead, and kept the foot on the gas to cruise to an easy cross-conference win.
Below we’ll go into more detail about the inspired performance the defense put in, inquire a bit about the Bills’ WRs, look at a position that requires a slightly better performance, and talk about penalties, because what’s more irksome than penalties?
Inspire – Defense:
What can almost be described as a perfect performance, the Bills’ defense obliterated Sam Howell and the Washington offense, giving them zero opportunities to make plays or finish drives. In the Cover 1 Pregame show with the Air Raid Hour, yours truly predicted a five-sack, two-turnover day for the Bills’ defense. Evidently, that was underselling it, as the Bills defense finished with nine sacks and four INTs, including one returned for a TD by A.J. Epenesa, and only allowed Washington to convert a single third down during the entire game. The Bills defense brought the heat early and often, wrecking Washington’s game plan from the first dive, and they didn’t let up for a single second. At one point, the Bills were pressuring Sam Howell at a 79% clip, according to Next Gen Stats. The Bills wholly dominated with Leonard Floyd, Greg Rousseau, Ed Oliver, Daquan Jones, Terrel Bernard, and A.J. Epenesa all getting in on the action. The defensive line was beating blocks, the defensive backs were making big plays on the ball, with Tre White and Micah Hyde getting picks, and Terrel Bernard snagging his second INT in as many weeks. There was some low-level hype around Washington’s offense after a successful first two games, but there was no such success today as Sean McDermott continues his strong record against young QBs. Had Ron Rivera not pulled the cowardly sore loser move of kicking a 51-yard FG with less than a minute left, the Bills would have had their first shutout of the season. A truly dominant performance from the Buffalo defense today.
Inquire – Bills’ WRs:
The Bills made an effort to improve the depth of their WR corps in the offseason, adding Trent Sherfield and Deonte Harty as free agents. The early returns on these additions have been a bit lackluster. Sherfield is a WR4 and functions well as that type of player, as his run-blocking skills have been a welcome addition to this team. But the Bills have likely been expecting more out of Harty, and so far it has been only middling returns from him. He’s been solid as a punt returner, and been fairly consistent when targeted, but he hasn’t made any of the explosive plays that have been expected of him. The Bills have tried to give him some manufactured touches with short passes and designs to get him the ball in space, but to little avail. Ultimately, the Bills haven’t had bad plays from either of these players, and they’re not incidentally creating turnovers with dropped passes or anything of that nature. But through two games it’s largely been the Allen to Diggs show with Gabe Davis and the tight ends occasionally guest-starring. If, or when, teams can clamp down on the outside, the other receivers on this team will have to step up.
Require – Run Game:
In fairness, the Bills didn’t have a bad day running the football statistically. James Cook had 98 yards rushing on 15 carries, and Latavius Murray scored a late TD with the offensive backups in. Damien Harris also had a few good carries including a conversion on a third-and-four. But the run game didn’t feel as consistent against the Commanders as it did against the Raiders. It’s understandable, as the Commanders’ defensive front is far superior to the Raiders, but there are tough teams with tough defensive lines that the Bills will have to contend with throughout the season. If they want to hang with the best of the best, and still be able to run the ball effectively, they need to win just a little more consistently against the better units in the NFL. Ultimately, there’s no reason to despair about a slightly, and it truly is only slightly, lesser performance for the Bills run game. They have clearly improved overall, and seem much more committed to it than in years past. Eliminating the runs on second and long will also likely help in the overall efficiency of the Bills’ run game.
Not a lot to be irksome about with the Bills today, but let’s talk about penalties. The Bills incurred six penalties for 45 yards. Ultimately, nothing too backbreaking, nothing that really ended a drive at a major point in the game, and Dalton Kincaid’s “tripping” penalty was about as weak as it gets. But next week’s game against the Dolphins will be the Bills’ toughest test by far, and they cannot afford to have silly, dumb, unforced errors of any kind against that team. The Bills have been pretty good on the penalty front after an abysmal flag-filled festival in the preseason, but you have to continue to work and stay disciplined to keep that status.
The Bills will head back home to Buffalo and are converging with the Dolphins in what appears to be a matchup of cataclysmic proportions, set to kick off at 1:00 p.m. next Sunday. Both teams are coming off huge wins, with the Dolphins scoring 70 points against the Denver Broncos. Josh Allen has played well historically against the rival Dolphins, and the Bills’ mojo seems to be back after a tough Week 1 loss to the Jets, but the Bills need a win in the division to keep pace with the Dolphins, who look to be one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL this year. It will be a phenomenal matchup, and one that the Bills will be very happy to be at home to play.