Filmroom Breakdown: Week 7

10/26/2017
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I’m not sure who needed the bye week more: Bills fans or Tyrod Taylor and the Bills’ offense. Either way, the bye week did all sorts of good for both of them. Taylor and the Bills’ passing offense finally woke up, and fans saw the first 100-yard receiver this season, though I’m not sure many people predicted the first 100-yard receiver of the season would be Deonte Thompson. But I digress.

Whatever the reason for the unexpected success Thompson had after being signed just days prior to Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers, I’m not sure it matters. For Bills fans and everyone, it’s refreshing to see Taylor trust his instincts a little more and just let it rip.

So many times in these breakdowns and all over social media, we see throws that are regularly left on the field — throws you want to see your starting quarterback make that Taylor simply wasn’t making.

To me, the problem was never that Taylor couldn’t make the throws; instead, it was his willingness to ditch his conservative, game manager mindset in situations that require a gunslinger’s mentality.

It appears that Rick Dennison has begun building an offense around the strengths of Tyrod Taylor. As the offense continues to get healthy and players like Jordan Matthews and Charles Clay are fully integrated back into the offense, I think this can be a respectable passing offense.

But enough of that, let’s take a look at a few plays that stood out to me from Sunday’s victory.

Did you know Nick O’Leary’s grandfather was Jack Nicklaus?

There are a bunch of things I love about this play. Let’s first talk about the great timing and placement of this pass. This is a very tight window, especially for a guy who hasn’t shown the ability to pull the trigger on a lot of throws like this. Taylor does an excellent job identifying the rotating safety. Pre-snap, Tampa Bay was showing a 2-high safety, cover 4 look, but right at the snap of the ball the safety on the left hash squats, while his counterpart bails for his deep middle responsibility.

The read on this play actually becomes the middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, who you can clearly see Taylor immediately look to at the snap. Jones preoccupies Alexander just long enough to open up that window. Brent Grimes makes a really nice play on the ball; you can tell he had his eyes in the backfield the entire play. So, considering he [Taylor] made a great read and threw a perfect ball that escaped a corner ditching his zone to make an aggressive play on the ball having read Taylor the whole way, this is terrific execution.

Taylor really does make this play look easy, but there is so much to like about his ability to read and diagnose the coverage, finding his read key, and throwing accurately to a brief window in the secondary. These are the sorts of plays Taylor will need to continue making to keep this offense trending upward, but this has to give you hope that there might be some passing ability in there that Rick Dennison is tapping into.

Frustrating trend

Taylor’s top critics will point to plays like this when they dissect his failures. This is a tough but very fair play on which to criticize Taylor’s field awareness and lack of anticipation. This play displays the beauty of the play action fake. Taylor’s fake (thanks to a successful running game) forced the Tampa linebacker to step towards the line, opening up a huge gap behind them.

I’ll argue this is a tough play for Taylor because he turns his back to the defense on the play fake, and I think he was anticipating McCoy to make himself available. However, I need him to identify the cover 3 look and the huge void underneath because of the play action, and to use that to his advantage. Specifically, he needs to recognize that the ball should be out on his fifth step before Zay Jones makes his break. If he throws the ball on his fifth step, then the ball is arriving as Jones turns around, making it an impossible play to defend. This is a play that Tampa just gift wrapped for the Bills, and they couldn’t take advantage.

Frustrating, for sure.

Do it!!

Do you want to know how you help a rookie wide receiver in the worst slump of his playing career? Hit him when he’s open! Feed the man! The more you watch this game, the more you realize that the Bucs’ defense might be the worst they play all season. This play has to be Taylor’s bread and butter. This is his money throw! If he puts this to the front pylon, then we’re talking about a touchdown.

As Erik mentions in his tweet, this was an excellent play design. They just need Taylor to pull the trigger and execute. But I think this really tells you the lack of trust Tyrod has in his young receiver. I think if that’s Sammy Watkins, Taylor pulls the trigger. But Zay is struggling, and Taylor has had issues throwing him an accurate ball, so I wonder if that was in the back of Taylor’s mind, because it’s the only excuse I can think of. If you understand leverage, then you know there is no way that safety can turn and run with a player who has a 20-yard head start. Man, what a missed opportunity.

Frustrating. Luckily, Taylor had a killer second half.

Who’s the new guy?

This wasn’t his best throw of the second half, but it was one of them. How about Deonte Thompson, though, right?

I’m not totally sure how Sean McDermott does it. They seemingly fit in street free agents and castoffs into important roles and yet, time and time again, they perform admirably. Thompson is maybe the best example yet.

 

It’s pretty obvious that Taylor and Thompson have some leftover chemistry from their time together in Baltimore on the practice squad, then briefly in Training Camp during the 2015 season. It’s also a terrific play design, considering most of the plays you’ve seen have been cover 3, so they put the corner in a really difficult spot. Because if he follows Zay (like he does here), he leaves a huge window behind him, and on this play, they have Thompson fill the zone and Taylor delivers a great ball. If the corner squats, which he just can’t do because he can’t leave his safety out to dry, then Zay Jones is running free for a touchdown.

Great play calling to put the defense in a bind, and great execution to take advantage.

 

Not much of a step up this week against a leaky Raiders defense, but they’ll need to continue to execute at a high level. One of the greatest compliments an opposing coach can pay your team is that they don’t beat themselves. As long as the Bills can continue playing a clean brand of football and don’t beat themselves, then this is a team trending upward.

Follow me on Twitter @NateGearyWGR.

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