After a couple of rough results, the Buffalo Bills finally got back to their winning ways beating the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium, 18 to 10. It’s wasn’t pretty, but Buffalo remains at the top of the AFC East with a 5-2 record. Here are my top three takeaways from today’s win:
Problems in all Three Phases Lingering
It was supposed to be an easy win for a good team trying to get back on track against a poor opponent. Not so fast, Bills Mafia. These Bills remain unable to win comfortably, no matter the opposition.
This Bills team continues to wound itself with costly mistakes in all three phases. The first half was ugly with a missed field goal on special teams. Fumbles lost, lack of any consistency in the running game, questionable decisions, and costly penalties hurt the offense. Inability to defend the run and get off the field on third down killed the defense and allowed the weak Jets to hold a 10-6 lead going into halftime.
Adjustments were made at halftime, and the defense didn’t allow another single successful offensive drive for New York. The offense got into a groove, with Allen finally settling for what the Jets were giving to him, and moved the chains. Tyler Bass hit four field goal attempts and gave Buffalo the lead.
Again, it wasn’t pretty. The offense couldn’t find the endzone (well, a dubious illegal formation penalty negated one touchdown) thanks a lot to the rushing attack not scaring opposing defenses.
Gilliam should be on the LOS given the 3x1 set and motion by Diggs. My guess is Diggs should be off the LOS. pic.twitter.com/VYIn0QngS0— Erik Turner (@ErikJTurner) October 25, 2020
Buffalo just can’t punch it in when they need to, and Allen continues to be their only real threat running the football this year. Additionally, Bass missed another FG inside the 45-yard line, keeping the Jets alive until the last drive of the game.
In the end, the defense did their job and guaranteed the win, but this is a team that still has too many issues to inspire any confidence going forward. We need to see more than two quarters of good play from this unit to assume they’re back to dominance. The offense has to figure out ways of winning the battle at the line of scrimmage and establishing a decent ground game. Bass can’t be so unreliable from inside the 45.
Right now, I have no doubts in my mind that I trusted the 2019 Bills in the playoffs more than I trust these 2020 Bills. Last year, you knew what you had in your defense, and even if the offense wasn’t as good as this year’s, they had a solid rushing attack. Hauschka also was very reliable inside the 45. This year’s team is just too flawed and inconsistent to make a Super Bowl run. They need to figure it out, quickly.
Allen’s problems are inside his head, not out.
After a less-than-ideal start, losing a fumble near the red zone, Josh Allen played a strong game today.
He had two completions that should have been touchdowns, the aforementioned illegal formation penalty and another one to Tyler Kroft, which the TE could have brought to the house if he didn’t lose his balance.
Despite the win and the good performance, Allen continues to look unsatisfied with himself. You can see it in his body language, and he again mentioned frequently in the post-game press “needing to play better than this”. There’s nothing wrong with being hard on yourself in chasing greatness, but Allen can’t let it affect his performances.
Nearly an interception pic.twitter.com/kHdPUIcRa6— Erik Turner (@ErikJTurner) October 25, 2020
Today, he again started forcing passes downfield too much. Allen consistently stood up in the pocket, bought time when needed, and kept his eyes downfield looking for big plays, ignoring easy completions available in the flats or on short curl routes, inside and out. The Jets, just like the Titans and the Chiefs, played mostly zone to take away deep opportunities, doubling Stefon Diggs and letting somebody else beat them.
Go concept pic.twitter.com/unyCC1ENzr— Erik Turner (@ErikJTurner) October 25, 2020
After the half, the Bills’ QB was more patient and made them pay, hitting Cole Beasley, Tyler Kroft, Devin Singletary, and Diggs in holes between the short and intermediate area defenders. That’s actually one of Allen’s strengths — being very accurate on these throws where his receivers show him their numbers and he can just rip it with his cannon arm.
If Allen consistently takes what defenses give to him, then he will be very difficult to stop, no matter the opponent. That’s how well he has developed technique-wise. Now he needs get there mentally, and it also would be good to see his teammates being more vocal about helping him out more. He can’t put too much pressure on his own shoulders.
Can we trust Tyler Bass?
What a roller-coaster day for the rookie kicker. Tyler Bass is capable of being awesome and awful in the same game. He hit six field goal attempts (the longest a 53-yarder) and scored all of the Bills’ points in the game, probably earning AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors and tying a Steve Christie Bills record from 1996 for most field goals scored in a game.
On the other hand, the 6th-round pick missed kicks from the 45- and 37-yard lines. His first miss was the first of several bad mistakes by the team in the first half, and the second one happened when it looked like he finally had put his inaccuracy to the side, and when the team was trying to secure the win. He finally hit the last one, opening an eight point lead.
It was expected from a rookie kicker to have his ups and downs throughout the year. However, the Bills, even playing at their best, aren’t a team in position to have such an unreliable kicker. All of their wins have been close, and kicking can decide how far they can go in the playoffs. At this point, even after six makes, I’m not comfortable every time Bass steps on the field. It seems he can hit from 65, but you can’t trust him even on a 30-yarder. It’s never automatic with Bass, and that’s scary.
- Huuuuughes: Jerry Hughes has been the most dangerous Bills pass rusher for quite some time, and analytics love him, even if it doesn’t show on the stat sheet. Today, that wasn’t the case, with the veteran DE recording 6 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 1 INT. Buffalo needed a boost on the DL, and Hughes provided it.
- Rookie help: With Levi Wallace, Josh Norman and Cam Lewis injured, rookie 7th-round pick Dane Jackson started and took the most of his opportunity. He recorded the first INT from a Bills secondary player this year and played a very good game outside. I’m curious to see more from him going forward.
- Tyler Kroft shows up: After not practicing this week to be present for the birth of his daughter, Kroft looked rejuvenated and contributed to the team’s offensive success. He finished the day with four receptions for 64 yards. Kroft has been the most reliable TE on the roster this year, and that’s a position that really can make things easier for the Bills’ QB.
- Beasley the zone killer: If defenses are going to take away the deep opportunities and double Diggs consistently, then Josh Allen shouldn’t even think too much before searching for his diminutive slot receiver. Cole Beasley knows like few WRs in the game how to find the soft spots between those zones and make himself available to his QB. No wonder he finished the game with a team-leading 11 receptions and 112 yards.