Things could not have gone better through two weeks for the Buffalo Bills, but the good vibes came to a halt Sunday afternoon as time expired in the team’s Week 3 loss to the Miami Dolphins. In a game where the Bills had to dig deep into their depth chart, what do we know now about the Bills’ flaws? What should you be concerned about, and what can we burn the tape on and forget about?
The Bills need a running game that isn’t Josh Allen
Let’s start with the bad news here. Through three games, the Bills are 29th in EPA per rush and 30th in rushing success rate. The normally efficient Devin Singletary is averaging a meager 3.5 yards-per-carry. Take away Zack Moss’s 43-yard run against the Dolphins on Sunday, and he is averaging under three yards a carry. And rookie James Cook has been a near none factor since fumbling on his first NFL carry. Having Josh Allen had made that a non-factor through two games, but asking him to drop back 72 times in a game is not sustainable. The Bills need to find some way to get success on the ground so their star quarterback doesn’t have to shoulder the burden of being the whole offense.
Sunday, the Dolphin’s offensive numbers were a little bit of fool’s gold. Yes, Tua Tagovailoa was held under 200 yards passing, but his offense was on the field for about 20 minutes; and they were an efficient 20 minutes. Tagovailoa finished second in EPA per play among all Week 3 quarterbacks. Even with Jordan Poyer returning, the Bills don’t have an easy answer for the other safety spot. Jaquan Johnson gave up receptions on all four times he was targeted for 75 yards and was ranked the worst safety in the NFL last week by PFF. Damar Hamlin graded out slightly better in coverage but still is a far cry from what the Bills have had opposite of Poyer for the last five seasons.
Forget About It
One score games
Dating back to 2020, the Bills have now lost seven straight one-score games. What does that mean? In short, not a whole lot. A lot of times, taking a step back and looking at trends gives you a clearer picture of a coach, or team, strengths. It doesn’t quite work that way with one-score games. When you look at each game individually, the variability that exists from game to game is evident. Things like a bounce of the ball on a blocked punt are simply luck. On Sunday, Josh Allen dirted a touchdown pass he hits nine times out of 10. At this point, the Bills’ run of one-score game losses is a statistical anomaly. The Bills were 9-7 over the last three seasons in one-score games prior to the current skid. The Bills will eventually win a close one again and return to the mean.
Inability to Finish
Among many of the Bills’ issues on Sunday, the inability in the second half to finish drives in the end zone was the biggest. Three of the four Bills’ drives ended in a field goal, missed field goal, and turnover on downs at the one-yard line. If you factor in Sunday’s game, Josh Allen, in the red-zone, is 15 for 26 passing with six touchdowns. Sunday saw Allen miss a layup on the game’s second-to-last drive that assuredly, given another opportunity, he would hit. Additionally, Sunday’s game saw them that was physically drained from playing 90 snaps in a devastating heat. Throughout his career, Allen has been one of the best red zone quarterbacks in the NFL, don’t expect that to change anytime soon.