The Buffalo Bills’ offense put together a solid game. They amassed 331 net yards, 166 of which were via the ground game. But the overall theme of the week eight matchup was the offense’s ability to control the line of scrimmage. In the run game, the linemen opened holes for McCoy with perfectly timed combination blocks on zone runs and brute force on double teams. His patience on many of his runs allowed the line to get movement, but it also allowed him to find creases that 90% of the league’s RBs wouldn’t even see. His vision and ability to make guys miss in phone booths was a sight to see last Sunday.
In the passing game, the linemen were able to mirror the Raiders’ pass rushers, often times just taking them where they want to go, allowing Taylor to manipulate the pocket or extend a play when he needed to.
Let’s take a look at some of the All-22 GIFs courtesy of NFL Gamepass:
The team made a concerted effort to get Zay Jones going. Quick set by Taylor, looks to the flats before throwing an accurate pass to Jones’s boundary shoulder.
Third down and 2, and the Bills call Jones’s number again. I like the high/low concept vs. LB Bowman. Zay runs the pivot and Matthews runs the dig behind him. This throw has to be on time and in the proper spot between LB Bowman and LB Irvin, the hook/curl defender.
Here’s a 3×1 set swing pass to the trips side. The slot WR, Matthews, is expecting the force player to widen more than he does, so he misses his block. But they don’t call him Cut On A Dime for nothing — a beautiful cut against the grain for 12 yards.
First-and-15 and Dennison dials up a chunk play, but it isn’t the best route concept vs. cover 2. The two vertical routes are right down the seams instead of outside, an area where they can attack the hole between the CB and safety. Taylor hits the top of his drop and WR Thompson was held up, and the hook/curl defender did a good job of forcing TE Thomas wide, which disrupts the timing of the route. Taylor sees an opening and takes the free five yards, rather than the risky throw down the seam.
As you may have noticed, the Raiders played a lot of Cover 2/Tampa 2 coverages. They forced the offense to methodically work down the field. Taylor uses his big target over the middle for 7 yards. Also take notice at how often the tackles were on islands, or 1-on-1 with edge rushers. Mills did a good job all day vs. Mack. He only allowed one QB pressure during the bout.
12 personnel play action pass to the field, and Taylor is immediately under duress from LB Irvin. Navorro Bowman does a good job of finding TE O’Leary crossing over the middle and, by the time Taylor is able to throw it, his TE is too close to the other secondary players.
Taylor is comfortable in the pocket. Five-man rush, the offensive linemen pick up the stunt nicely, but Taylor one-hops it.
A terrible call by the refs. Bills get man coverage and Taylor hits Matthews for 27 yards. But watch the OL play. Five-man pressure early, LB Bowman peels off, so Richie finds work. Good teamwork between Wood and Ducasse. A lot of traffic in and around Taylor, who stays on his toes in a throwing posture and delivers.
This play could have been huge. They call a play action rollout and slip O’Leary out on the throwback route. But Taylor isn’t able to sell the play, as LB Mack is the contain player to the field. O’Leary’s route would have been open. Also a play to keep an eye on for the future, as a screen to Shady could have also been big.
This play has an ‘alert’ built into it. If the defense stays in a single high safety look, I think Taylor takes the deep shot on first down. But they drop into cover 2 post-snap, Taylor pump fakes to move the LB, and delivers to the correct shoulder for an easy five yards from a condensed set.
Taylor played very well from the pocket and this was one of his best plays. On this play action pass he does a tremendous job of keeping his eyes downfield as defenders are coming at him from all directions. DT Justin Ellis (#78) gets a good jump on Wood and creates pressure immediately. The DE, Autry (#98), also comes free, but Ducasse keeps his head in the play, uses his length to engage and ride the defender wide. Taylor isn’t phased; his eyes never drop. He slides a tad to his left, trusts that the route by Jones will come open, and it does, so Taylor floats it to open green, allowing Jones to run under it for 22 yards.
Is Shady special or what? Bills run split flow zone, but the Raiders have two defenders just waiting, and that’s a problem. Shady uses their passivity against them by using his eyes to set up Bowman. Shady looks to safety Luani (#26) as if he is going to hit the gap defended by him. It causes Bowman to move, and McCoy bursts through the hole for 14.
22 personnel inside zone ‘BOB’, otherwise known as ‘Back on Backer’. Richie clears the way and Glenn stays engaged. The CB screams into the C-gap to fill, but Shady cuts up inside of Glenn. This was a weak side run to the field, but Shady forces defenses to account for every single gap.
Defense plays Tampa 2 and Taylor scans the three routes to the field — and there’s nothing. The internal clock is winding down, so he dumps it down to Shady.
Wide zone action out of gun, Taylor is decisive, but most importantly accurate on the third down throw.
Trips bunch look, and the defense shows man coverage. Based on the routes and Taylor’s eyes, it appears like he is looking to McCoy all the way. Mack got a little too close for comfort, so Taylor bails the pocket and misses Holmes as he breaks. But he does a great job of resetting so he can see the field, sets, and throws Holmes open for the TD.
13 personnel, and the Bills send out Groy in place of the tight end. Groy played 12 snaps during the game. All were runs, and he was the Bills’ highest-graded run blocker, and it is because of gap play calls like this. The offense runs ‘Duo’-a gap blocking scheme without a puller. Glenn engulfs Bowman, and Shady times the burst up the middle perfectly.
Outside zone run by Shady where he probably could have bounced it for a big gain. Five yard gain.
Bills sent five guys into pass routes a ton this game. The defense drops eight, and Taylor finds Matthews for an 8-yard gain on the in route.
Taylor looks like he wants to get it to O’Leary, but the low-hanging safety throws him off. Looks to check it down, but thats covered, so he bails the pocket as Matthews comes open. Good job by the OL as a unit.
2nd half-The Raiders rotate their coverage as the slot corner drops deep, and the boundary safety drops to the hook/curl to settle into Tampa 2. Taylor throws to Shady as he runs the ‘Texas’ route.
No surprise — Alexander and Milano meet at the punt returner and Milano immediately goes for the rip, knowing that Richard is vulnerable after slipping. The swing in the Bills’ favor begins.
22 personnel, and the Bills run another inside zone BOB run. DiMarco dominates LB James.
Third-and-long, and Taylor heaves it to O’Leary’s back shoulder, but it is just out of reach. Holmes does come open AFTER the ball is out of Taylor’s hand.
The third quarter was the McCoy show. He registered 12 carries for 61 yards, and it started off with this power run. Look at O’Leary widen the hole with perfect hand placement and power. Richie leads, but LB Bowman attempts to undercut the block. Shady sees it and jukes him in the hole en route to a 7-yard gain.
On the very next play they run BOB to the weak side, and Shady somehow jumps several gaps to the strength of the formation for a gain of eight yards. Look how easy Glenn makes it look. Love that guy.
Negative 2 yards for Tolbert on the swing pass, but Taylor scans the entire field to get it to him.
Defense drops into cover 3 buzz, and Taylor misses the high/low route combo to the bottom of the screen. Should have hit Thompson. Nice teamwork by Mills and Ducasse, as Mack gets passed to Mills.
When Richie pulls, good things happen. 21 personnel counter trey run for 38 yards. You simply can’t give Shady a hole that big. TE Lee had several very nice blocks in this game. Look at him widen the hole, time the climb perfectly, and block LB Bowman down the field. Impressive.
The big play to Tate. Pretty special play by the receiver. He finds a window for his QB and then makes guys miss.
Another ‘Duo’ play call, and Richie creates a highway for McCoy. Six-yard gain.
Here is just a spectacular play by Taylor. Defense plays Tampa 2 and Taylor climbs the pocket. As he does, I think he catches the corner about to settle, so he launches it deep. I believe this is a ‘faith’ throw, as I don’t think Taylor can actually see Holmes. But he knows the coverage, sees the safety hang with the bender route over middle, and the corner coverage. Very good adjustment by Holmes. Glad Andre got some burn, especially vs. his former team.
Even outside zone was working. Look at the combination and climb work by Mills and Ducasse. Shady gets skinny for 7 yards.
Here is one of a few instances where Taylor hung in there until the very last second.
A pretty 3-yard run by Shady on the power run. Great down block by Ducasse, and Shady hops back to the weak side of the formation after leaving Mack in the dust. Every gap has to be accounted for.
This is the drive after Taylor dove in for the touchdown. The Bills run ‘Duo’ out of 13 personnel with Groy in as the extra blocker. Shady is deep into the line of scrimmage, but he has nowhere to go. Wants to bounce it, and tries to, but Mack works to gain outside leverage. Shady cuts it back inside now that O’Leary has inside leverage on the block. Unbelievable.
Critical third down, as the Raiders are within 13. Taylor hangs in there until the very last second. Very good location on this throw.
After a 4-yard power run, Dennison calls a weak side BOB run. Great ‘Ace’ block or combination block between a center and guard. Also love the timing shown by Wood to pick up the backside pursuit. That is something they worked on during the bye week.
Tolbert converts on 3rd-and-1, then follows it up with a 6-yard run off of outside zone. Shows his patience and power. Mack shoots the C-gap, so the read tells Tolbert to bounce. O’Leary gets just enough of Luani to allow Tolbert to cut it back.
Here is the dagger. Mccoy’s 48-yard run.
Overall, I believe this was a good gameplan. Dennison stuck to what the Bills do well, and that is run the ball, but with a very good mix of gap runs and some of his outside zone. The line did its share of dominating on combination and double team blocks, opening up major lanes for McCoy to do his thing. But McCoy’s vision and elusiveness made some very good defenders look mediocre.
On the surface, the Raiders’ philosophy was simple. They attempted to force Taylor to win from the pocket with a lot of Tampa 2 coverages, sometimes with eight defenders dropping into coverage. This allowed Taylor to play from the pocket with very little pressure. According to Pro Football Focus, they only blitzed Taylor seven times.
Hats off to Taylor, because he had very good command of the offense. He did a fantastic job of drawing Bowman offsides, managing the clock when the team was trying to run the clock out, and overall made plays when needed to. He understood down-and-distances, when to read high-to-low or low-to-high, when to be aggressive, and when not to.
Finally, kudos to the offensive line. This is the second week in a row they have been impressive. They only allowed four QB pressures all game. The Bills sent out five receivers into routes often, leaving the linemen exposed. The interior offensive line maintained the depth of the pocket, while the tackles were solo all day, and they held it down.
Great game all around on the offensive side of the ball. Looking forward to seeing them build on it Thursday night against the Jets.