Top 3 Takeaways From Bills 27-17 Win vs. Jets

09/13/2020
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Football is finally back and the Buffalo Bills imposed themselves, at home, on the very suspect New York Jets, winning by a score of 27-17. The final score doesn’t show how superior Buffalo was, dominating the time of possession battle, but several mistakes and a garbage-time score by the Jets made it closer. Here are my top three takeaways from today’s game:

Allen’s first 300-yard game was good, but still not great.

After another offseason to work on his flaws, get comfortable with the playbook, and with the addition of star receiver Stefon Diggs, the expectation level on QB Josh Allen’s play was pretty high before the game. The lack of a preseason and the limited opportunities to see him in camp made the anticipation even higher, and he answered with a good showing.

Allen came out firing several passes and running a lot in the first few drives. Brian Daboll continued to utilize his signal caller as the centerpiece of his passing and rushing attack, calling several QB keepers and read-option plays in the first half.

Allen was accurate most of the day, put pressure in the opposing defense with his legs, and produced the first 300-yard passing game of his career, finishing the day completing 33 of 46 pass attempts for 312 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also led the team in rushing attempts with 14, rushing yards with 57, and rushing TDs with one.

So, what made this day a good one but kept it from being great? There are some familiar issues that have plagued the young QB’s career so far. First of all, the fumbles. Allen fumbled the ball twice, both on running plays inside the red zone. He’s a dangerous runner, fast, elusive, and difficult to bring down. However, those fumble problems may force Daboll away from utilizing his QB this way, and this could have a big negative impact on his performances overall.

Allen is way more dangerous as a dual-threat QB, especially until he fully develops into a consistently accurate passer. To see this Bills offense at its best, Allen needs to be able to run the ball and protect the football. He needs to find ways of avoiding those costly fumbles, and one of the options is becoming a less aggressive rusher, sliding more instead of trying to gain each possible yard. It will help also to avoid injuries, since he took far too many unnecessary hits in today’s game. Allen must find a balance. Otherwise, his turnovers, or even worse, and injury, could cost his team’s season.

Brian Daboll adjusts his offense, yet again.

The writing was on the wall with the choices made, first, to finish the 53-man roster, without veteran fullback Patrick DiMarco, and then with the list of inactives today, keeping blocking TE Lee Smith out of the game. This offense would spread guys out and throw the ball. It happened during the game, with more positives than negatives, and helped Allen to achieve the elusive 300-yard game for the first time in his career.

Daboll started the game using a lot of 10-personnel (one back and no TEs). The top three WRs — Stefon Diggs, John Brown and Cole Beasley — were joined by rookie Gabriel Davis, who seems to have carved out a role with a strong camp. The OC used a lot of pre-snap motions and dialed several screen passes, giving some “layup” opportunities for his QB. It worked well in the passing game, forcing the Jets to play zone and always gave Allen an open man. It also opened up nice running lanes for the QB runs.

What didn’t work really well was the rushing attack, outside of the QB runs. Daboll mixed in more 11-personnel (one back and one TE) after the first few drives, with Dawson Knox moving inside to be the lead blocker, but the Jets’ front seven kept Devin Singletary (nine rushes for 30 yards) and Zach Moss (nine rushes for 11 yards) in check all day long.

The Jets’ defense is notably stronger against the run than against the pass, so it remains to be seen if it’s a problem that needs to be fixed by Daboll going forward or if it was just a matter of match-up. Overall, I like what I saw from this offense. They could have scored more, if not for individual mistakes in execution.

Dominant defense has its depth tested

The Buffalo Bills’ defense is for real. It’s been this way for the last two years, and it looks like nothing is changing in 2020. They started shutting down the Jets’ offense to the point it seemed they wouldn’t be able to pass midfield at any point during the day.

Things started to change after halftime, though. Matt Milano left the field with a hamstring injury, and his replacement, A.J. Klein, isn’t anywhere near as capable as Milano in coverage, limiting Leslie Frazier’s play-calling. A few moments later, on a TD play where he failed to tackle New York’s slot WR, Jamison Crownder, Tremaine Edmunds injured his shoulder and left the game. Tyrel Dodson filled in and did a solid job, but without the two talented starters, the level of play decreased, as expected.

Micah Hyde also injured his ankle trying to change directions on a just-out-of-reach ball, then was replaced by Dean Marlowe for a series, but he was able to come back into the game. Now the hopes are that neither Milano’s nor Edmunds’ issues are serious ones. This defense is dominant with them in the lineup, and the offense is still a work in progress.

Quick tidbits

  • Rookie Tyler Bass had a rough NFL debut, hitting just two of four field goal attempts. Both of his hits were from the inside 29-yard line, and both of his misses were from inside the 39. One of the misses looked like it was actually good, just inside the goalpost, but the refs didn’t see it this way, and because the ball was above the upright, it was not a reviewable play. Anyway, the rookie needs to be more reliable on those short kicks.
  • It was a solid debut by Stefon Diggs, who hauled in eight receptions for 86 yards. His presence itself drawing a lot of attention makes Allen better and the offense more dangerous.
  • As expected, Jets rookie LT Mekhi Becton struggled against Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison. The long-time veterans are too good and experienced for a rookie LT, no matter how physically gifted he is.
  • Rookie 2nd-round pick A.J. Epenesa being a healthy scratch in his first career game worries me. Yeah, it’s early and he’s behind some very good veterans, but he’s also behind Darryl Johnson, the 7th-round pick from a year ago. Johnson plays special teams, but he’s also part of the rotation at the left DE spot, and I expected Epenesa to contribute early there.
  • Speaking of the left DE spot, I suspected Mario Addison wouldn’t start there when he was signed because of having most of his playing time on the right. Same for Jerry Hughes. No wonder Murphy is still the starter there and Johnson is the first man in at the rotation. Addison is slotted as Shaq Lawson’s replacement behind Hughes, who saw a few snaps on the left, too.
  • So, for now it’s Cody Ford at guard and Daryl Williams at RT. Williams is a former All-Pro there. Hopefully, he can recapture at least a bit of that level of play. Ford really seems more natural at guard. OL was very good pass blocking, not so good in the ground game.
  • Singletary proved his value as a rookie and earned more opportunities on the field. Moss is a rookie who could be good, but we just really don’t know yet. Today, Motor was, by far, the most dangerous back. I wouldn’t share the touches equally until Moss can prove to be the real deal, too. Free Devin Singletary, Mr. Daboll.

 

 

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