Preseason | Bills vs. Redskins Impressions

The third preseason game for the Buffalo Bills left a lot to be desired. Most of the impressions were not good. The 90-degree heat and humidity definitely got the best of the players. Especially the Bills, a familiar storyline crept up and that is penalties. The Bills committed 13 penalties for 104 yards, more importantly, four of those resulted in first downs. For those who missed the game and just checked the box score the amount of penalties called on the Bills would catch your eye. But if you actually watched the game you would know that Ed Hochuli’s crew was horrendous. They called 23 penalties in all, for 211 yards, and yes that extended the game and tested the players mentally.

Buffalo was without several starters but that doesn’t excuse their demeanor. The talent disparity between the Redskins starters and the Bills backups in the first half was noticeable. The opponent came out with an attitude and punched Buffalo in the mouth, which is why most of the impressions from the first half were negative.

As I mentioned in my scouting report the line combinations that the Bills were bringing to FedEx field worried me. The Redskins defensive front is super athletic and that showed versus the Bills “starters”. Eight of the 13 Bills offensive lineman that played were graded in the negative in pass blocking (range -.2 to -3.5). That list includes Incognito, Wood, Henderson, Mills and others. Jordan Mills played 10 snaps and looked slow out of his stance and into his kick slide.

Outside linebacker Kerrigan smokes him off the snap on this play that forced Taylor to step up and take a big hit for the sack. As a tackle in pass protection, you never want to cross your feet, you want to be light on your feet and keep your shoulders square to the defender. As you can see, Mills is slow out of the gate and his shoulders are immediately turned…

 

The player who I wanted to watch closely was Right tackle  Seantrel Henderson. I am a huge fan of his physical abilities and upside but his first taste of action was rough. I do believe most of his issues were due to him adjusting to the speed of the game. It also caused one false start penalty.

He is in good form on this play but the stutter rush allows the defender to get the corner en route to the QB. Luckily, EJ dumped it down.

 

Henderson played 39 snaps versus Washington and graded out at a -2.7 in pass blocking because he allowed 4 QB pressures. But you can see from the clips that it seems to be a game speed issue. The defensive end Trent Murphy #93 gets the edge on Henderson which is odd because Murphy is not a speed rusher. Hopefully, Henderson can regain his form.

 

But Henderson’s strength has always been his run blocking. He is athletic enough to pull if need be and able to use his physical attributes to lock out defenders creating alleys for running backs. Henderson opens the hole for Jonathan Williams for an easy 4 yard gain. Look at him turn the defender by locking out his left arm, moving his feet and torquing his body.

 

I think as the season progresses and Henderson becomes accustomed to playing with Crohn’s disease he will take back the right tackle spot.

Onto the worse graded player for the Bills, Kroy Biermann. Pro Football Focus graded him as a -6.1 overall and a -1.3 versus the run. Early in the game, he got reach blocked by Trent Williams on a weak-side zone run. The slow reaction and lack of aggressiveness gave the back the edge for a 9 yard gain. If he sets the edge properly, the play gets turned inside and Hawthorne can clean it up.

 

This should not happen versus the backup TE. Biermann allows the tight end to get his hands inside thus able to control him. Johnson is unable to make the play in the window.

 

But it didn’t end there. Kroy also took some really bad angles on a few plays. Here is the most blatant occurrence. He takes the wrong angle at Colt Mccoy,  and it allows the QB to spin out of the pocket. That is unacceptable for a veteran.

 

To make things worse, Biermann was second on the team in missed tackles with three. The leader was rookie cornerback Kevon Seymour. Both star in the following play.

 

After a phenomenal first two games, Kevon Seymour (click to view his technique) was matched up versus starting talent. Seymour was definitely humbled in his third game of action. Pro Football Focus graded Seymour as a -3.8 overall and a -4.1 in pass coverage. Most of his negative plays were based on his shoddy tackling which was considered a weakness of his coming out of college.

Courtesy of Kyle Crabbs-NDT scouting

Courtesy of Kyle Crabbs-NDT scouting

 

Kirk Cousins sees how far off Seymour is in coverage so he kills the run call and throws a quick pass to Garcon. Garcon lowers his shoulder and breaks the tackle for a considerable gain. If the Bills want to play the 4-6 defense, they must not only have corners who can cover on an island but guys that can tackle to minimize the yards after the catch.

 

Garcon was targeted three times when Seymour was in coverage. Kevon allowed two catches for 24 yards and one touchdown. Rex Ryan appears to dial up one of his base defensive play calls titled “Field Pack”. From the start of the clip, take notice of how much communication is going on. But as the ball is about to be snapped, Seymour and Anderson are still talking. Possibly unsure of what coverage to play? Let’s break it down.

The trips bunch side is obviously playing Rex Ryan’s “Box” coverage. But it is unclear what coverage is being executed to Seymour’s side (2 WR side).

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Normally in 5 wide sets, the defenders to the 2 WR side play cover 2, where the safety has 1/2 the field and the corner is a squat defender. But the Redskins throw in a few wrinkles. They stack the receivers and one of the receivers is a RB.

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So that is why you see Anderson align outside the RB. From the way the Bills defenders lined up, it appears like Rex wanted them to be in man coverage (not zone coverage). But as the ball is snapped you can see Seymour play outside leverage as to not give the middle of the field to Garcon, the rook hesitates for a split second, becomes flat-footed and Garcon beats him (click play then click the – sign below the GIF to watch in slow motion).

 

Seymour wasn’t grossly out of place in coverage, the QBs just made some good decisions and accurate throws. He was targeted 7 times, allowed 4 catches for 47 yards and one touchdown. The missed tackles definitely were his biggest issue.

Once the Redskins starters exited the game the playing field was leveled and the Bills played much better. The second half surge was primarily led by the Bills running game. Buffalo finished the game with 30 rushes for 154 yards (5.1 yds/carry) and one touchdown. The tip of the spear was rookie running back Jonathan Williams (click for draft breakdown).

Williams exited the game with a rib injury, but prior to that play, he rushed 11 times for 42 yards and one touchdown. Now that may not sound impressive but if you watch his runs, the style that he brings is exactly what the Bills need. With Karlos Williams being released the Bills need a guy that can enter the game and punish defenders. The type of back that defensive players don’t want to tackle after chasing around Lesean Mccoy and Reggie Bush. Williams brings that contrasting, punishing brand of football to this offense.

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Courtesy of Mockdraftable.com

 

So far this preseason he has carried the ball 27 times for 103 yards with 67 yards after initial contact, 7 missed tackles and two TDs.

If you read my scouting report for this game, you should’ve expected the Bills to run several iso plays. Well, that is exactly what they did on this Williams TD. The Bills bring out 22 personnel and run iso. Roman isolates the Mike LB for Gronkowsi and he executes. He takes on the linebacker with the proper shoulder giving Williams a huge hole. Williams does the rest. He breaks the arm tackle in the hole, jukes the jock strap off of the safety and runs over one other Redskin player before trotting into the end zone.

 

In the second half, the Bills forced their will on the Redskins defense, they continued breaking their spirit with downhill runs. On this play, they run Iso again. The Bills are in 22 personnel with the strength to their left, this puts the Mike LB to the offenses left. Well EJ puts TE Annen in motion to the right where he resets on the right wing. This causes the defense to shift, and now instead of isolating the Mike LB, the Bills have Cravens the Will LB isolated. On the snap, the inside backers do a great job of getting downhill to fill the gaps. Williams sees that the hole is plugged, unable to bounce it he cuts it back for a good gain. Tip of the cap to center Ryan Groy on picking up the inside linebacker late allowing Williams to make something out of nothing.

 

Williams is a load to bring down, but my most favorite skill of his is the ability to make a guy miss in the hole. Williams displayed this innate ability a lot in college and as the game slows down it will flash even more. In the following play, the Bills run iso. The interior is clogged so he bounces it to the C gap. The DB attempts to fill the hole but a slight juke by the fifth round RB causes him to miss and he gains four yards.

 

Speaking of fifth rounders, the Bills spent a fifth rounder on Cyril Richardson back in 2014, hoping that he could man one of the guard positions in the future. His adjustment to the NFL has been rocky, but the Redskins game was one of the few times he stood out for the right reasons.

Richardson is a big guy, NFL.com has him currently listed at 6’5″, 343 pounds and he looks every bit of that. As you can imagine he isn’t the fleetest of foot but man he is a powerful blocker, which is why this system is his best bet to make a living.

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Cyril executes a long pull/trap of the force defender on this gap run. He absolutely eliminates the threat and Wilder does his job by gaining yards after contact.

 

Richardson does a great job of getting to the second level on this run by Wilder. Something that he has struggled to do in the past.

 

He climbs to the second level again, on the Iso play.

 

But Richardson is not a finished product, as well as he played in the run game he continues to have troubles with pass blocking. He allowed two QB pressures against the Redskins. Richardson and Groy are in a heated competition. Richardson may have caught up to Groy in the competition. Groy (-3.9 overall, -3.5 pass blocking) has allowed one QB sack and three QB hurries whereas Richardson has allowed only two QB hurries. Groy seems to add more athletic ability especially in space, but Richardson is a guy that can use his power to establish a new line of scrimmage. Who makes the roster may come down to the final game. Expect these two players to get a lot of snaps.

All in all, the Redskins game started off quite horribly. The Bills were missing most of their defensive starters and it was noticeable. The Redskins offense took advantage of the situation and rattled off three touchdowns. But the Bills depth players battled back and had a chance to win it at the end. The opportunity was missed and the Bills lost their second game of the preseason.

Stay tuned for a full breakdown of EJ Manuel.

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