Four takeaways from a tough 24-21 Bills win over the Jaguars

11/25/2018
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The Buffalo Bills were back on the field after their bye week and took advantage of home field advantage to down the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-21. Buffalo’s now a 4-7 team and still has playoffs hopes at this point. Jacksonville’s 3-8 and continues to be one of the major disappointments in the NFL this year. Here are my four takeaways from today’s game:

Josh Allen is back and better than ever

The Bills’ first-round quarterback made his anticipated comeback from an elbow injury and impressed against one of the league’s best defenses. It was a very similar performance to the one versus the Vikings, one in which Allen gave the opposing defense fits with his scrambling ability and showcased his arm on some big-time throws.

After his time off, it was good to see him improving in areas where he struggled before, like in ball placement on deep passes, and especially in his pocket presence. Allen was very successful moving in and outside the pocket, buying time to make the throws or punishing Jacksonville with big gains on the ground. He wasn’t sacked in the game and ran for 99 yards and one TD on 13 carries. He finished the game completing 8 of 19 passes for 160 yards and another TD. It’s not the most impressive stat line, but he avoided turnovers and moved the chains fairly consistently.

The Bills’ rookie QB has drawn some comparisons to a young Ben Roethlisberger and/or Cam Newton, but as I was watching him play today, he reminded me of a pair of QBs of the 2006 class at the start of their careers. From the arm talent standpoint, Allen reminds me of a young Jay Cutler, a QB with enough velocity and zip on the ball to make any NFL throw. From the mobility and athleticism standpoint, he reminds me of Vince Young. Both are big guys who were able to make defenses pay with their scrambling ability, showing impressive speed in the open field with their long strides. Allen missing an easy swing pass to Isiah McKenzie reminded me of Young’s inaccuracy and inconsistency, too.

I know those names don’t inspire much confidence for most people, but those were two very talented prospects who never reached their full potential because of off-the-field problems, not lack of potential, and we know Allen has been exemplary in the dedication department.

Brian Daboll continues to take advantage of his new weapons

For the second game in a row, the Bills’ offensive coordinator was able to take advantage of the newly added speed to his unit and call a very interesting game. Daboll abused of bunch formations and pre-snap motions, especially the jet sweep, helping his QB to read the coverage schemes and creating confusion for the opposing linebackers in the run game.

With the Jaguars’ defense needing to respect the run game, play-action became Allen’s best friend. He consistently was able to make positive plays with his arm or legs and keep the Bills’ offense on the field.

Daboll called a great game, and the Bills’ offense continued to show improvements against a tough opponent. It’ll be interesting to see this team moving forward since a competent offense paired with their stellar defense could lead this team to a strong finish in 2018.

Run defense brings back bad memories

After taking a 14-0 lead, the Bills’ defense faced a rough stretch in this game, one in which they couldn’t stop the run to save their lives. It reminded me of the brutal game versus the Saints last season, in which every one of New Orleans’s run plays resulted in big gains. This time it was Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars who couldn’t be stopped.

The big back was running all over the Bills’ defense, putting Jacksonville back in the game. He finished the day with 95 rushing yards and two TDs on an average of 5.3 yards per carry. Buffalo DC Leslie Frazier made halftime adjustments to contain him, but it was Shaq Lawson who literally stopped Fournette’s production. He was involved in a brawl with the running back, which resulted in both players being ejected from the game. This outcome benefitted Buffalo, with Fournette being the main reason  Jacksonville was competitive in this game.

Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes put on a show

What a game by the pair of veteran defensive linemen. Williams and Hughes combined for two sacks, one tackle for loss, and five QB hits, giving nightmares to anyone who tried to stay between them and Blake Bortles.

Williams and Hughes have been teammates for a long time, and it shows on the field. Their chemistry, especially running stunts, wreaks havoc on opposing offensive lines and often surprises QBs who think they have an open lane in the pocket to run. It’s beautiful to watch and, alongside Lorenzo Alexander, they make the Bills’ defensive line one of the most successful rushing the passer in 2018.

 

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