Another week and another loss for the now 2-6 2018 Buffalo Bills, which may be one of the most frustrating teams in the franchise’s history. A very good defense is paired with a historically bad offensive unit, and it doesn’t look like the coaching staff will be able to do anything about it in 2018. We saw more of the same Monday Night Football, and here are my four takeaways from the loss versus New England:
The defense is for real
Damn that was a nice tackle stunt!!! pic.twitter.com/1VigGNR2gs
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) October 30, 2018
Let’s start with the good. This is a really good unit with the potential to be even better. Head coach Sean McDermott consistently speaks about “the process” of building “sustainable success”. The defensive unit is looking like it’s farther along in the process than the offense. This group is improving since last year and is already capable of slowing down the best quarterbacks in the game. They did it versus Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady this year, showing it’s a unit ready to compete with the best offenses in the league. Yesterday, the Patriots didn’t score a touchdown until the fourth quarter, an impressive feat for a young defense. Time will tell how the offensive group develops, but this defense is showing they’re for real.
The offense, though…
Oh boy, this is ugly. Another week and another pitiful performance by the Bills’ offense. A lot of people are already calling for OC Brian Daboll’s head, but I can’t agree there. He tried everything he could versus New England, from wildcat to flea flickers. Daboll is trying to scheme around a severe lack of talent all over this offense, but the execution isn’t there. The wide receivers can’t separate at the tops of their routes, and the QB play clearly is limited, no matter who’s under center. The running backs are the only really good options so far, but their play is affected by the porous offensive line, which can’t open holes or sustain any blocks.
With the addition of former Jets WR Terrelle Pryor and McCoy and Benjamin staying with the team for at least the remainder of the season, the hope is Josh Allen will be able to come back from injury and give the unit a spark. With that being said, the state of the OL makes it difficult to expect any consistency from this offense.
Zay Jones showing up
Another iota of good news from this game is Zay Jones looking like a capable NFL wide receiver again. He’s been growing each week and against the Patriots was a reliable target for Derek Anderson. Jones finished the night with six receptions for 55 yards on eight targets. He’s capable of playing outside but, at this point, looks better suited for the slot. If Pryor can have an impact, then maybe, just maybe, the Bills might be able to line up three capable receivers going forward. Benjamin, Pryor, and Jones should be a decent top three and give Allen at least a chance to produce.
LeSean McCoy had a tough night, running for just 13 yards on 12 carries. To make things worse, 12 of those 13 yards came on his first carry. After that, Shady couldn’t find any holes behind the struggling offensive line. He often danced around in the backfield and was tackled for losses. With the OL absolutely failing to sustain blocks, Chris Ivory’s aggressive style is more successful at this point. Ivory gained 34 yards on six carries, with a good 5.7 yards per carry average.
After the game, Shady voiced his frustration, declaring he never had such a frustrating season in his entire life. He knows he can still play, though, and when given space, McCoy showed he still has the burst and elusiveness to give problems to opposing defenses. He led the team with 82 yards on six receptions, and when he’s on the field, the defenses pay attention to him. After not being traded at the deadline, Daboll will need to figure out a way to make this OL more effective at giving chances to McCoy. He’s still is the best weapon on this team.