A Few Thoughts about the Washington Game, in no particular order
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You know that feeling when you think you left your phone somewhere while out shopping? There's a little bit of panic and self-doubt as you wonder where you could have left it, and you start strategizing how you will track it, recover your photos, convince the store it was stolen, so you warranty covers it, yadda yadda yadda. After hours of internal self-scrutiny, you reach your hand into your other pocket and find it, realize that only a second has passed, and that wave of assurance rushes over you. You remember that your other hand was full of groceries at the time, so you put it in the abnormal pocket, and there was never any real cause for concern in the first place. Ladies and Gentlemen, Josh was simply in the other pocket.
1 - Our Quarterback - Josh took a few steps back, looked downfield, then checked to the swing before firing a bullet over Motor's head. Seventy thousand fans all sighed and accepted that today would be more of the same from Allen today, and hopefully, the defense is still up to the task. And then, just as quickly as that feeling grew, it was over. Josh was back, and Josh was brilliant. He was making throws on the run, across his body, while being tackled and all of them right on the money. He showed touch on the deep ball, didn't throw into coverage unless only our guy could get it, and, as many fans have said, brought 2020 Josh out again. His best throw of the day was incomplete and largely due to the wind, which even affected long snaps to the punter. Diggs broke free deep, and Allen made the throw as soon as he saw the safety break. Josh was off his feet while getting tackled high and low by two defenders as he threw it. The wind caught the ball in the air and drifted it away from Diggs. Had the wind not been there, I personally believe Diggs makes that catch, and Josh breaks the rules of physics again because no quarterback should be able to make that throw. For me, I was back to counting on one hand, all the throws he missed, watching him dance around incoming defenders with ease, and expecting every single throw to be a solid gain. And with Josh coming back to form, all his receivers came back with him.
2 - Knox - For a player so up and down, it's hard to feel comfortable ever declaring him "fixed." However, if there were a game for that, this is it. Knox was an absolute stud on the field in every capacity as a tight end. He blocked well, he found space well, he showed good hands, and he made a ridiculous catch from Allen that showed trust in the throw, field awareness, and just overall domination of a defender. More impressively, to me is where Knox was lined up. Daboll did a great job of putting Knox on the line as a blocker and mixing up his routes versus blocks. Knox would have two hands on the ground most plays, then sneak down the seem. The touchdown was the little extra that makes you understand why Josh and the coaching staff keep giving him a chance.
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3 - Daboll - Many, including myself, have criticized Daboll's ability to mix in a rushing attack without neutering the passing attack. Against Washington, Daboll seemed to find that mix perfectly. The rushes came out of multiple formations, and he effectively rotates Motor and Moss to utilize their strengths. Motor wasn't overly impressive but wasn't a hindrance. Moss made the most of his carries and catches and showed why the coaches leaned more his way at the end of last season. I still hope they keep the rotation as they have different skill sets. For the second straight week, the second level blocking was on point. They had absolutely no answer for Daboll's game plan for a Washington Defense that is claimed to be very good this year.
4 - When she couldn't hold, she folded
A dissident is here
Escape is never the safest path
Oh, a dissidence, a dissident is here, oh!
5 - The Hiccup - I don't know what else to call the 14 points scored by Washington before the half. They called a screen to the weak side just as we called a heavy blitz to the strong side. This left Gibson with a wall of blockers, few defenders in front of him, and speed to get him the whole way. Then, as if the wind wasn't obvious, no one noticed the ball almost spin backward above the ten on the following kickoff, allowing Washington to recover a very elaborate onside kick. Washington capitalized on the field position and made it a one-score game. However, Josh got the ball back, kept working his magic, let Bass boom a monster field goal before the half, and we never looked back. I call it a hiccup because the Bills completely dominated this game. Heinicke wouldn't have eclipsed 100 yards passing until the 4th quarter if you remove that screen pass. This was a game that ended on the first drive, but the hiccup just made it seem close for a moment.
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6 - Pass Rush - While there are so many things to focus on in this game, I would feel remiss not to address our season trend of a dominant pass rush. Washington was able to neutralize our front 4 in this game, but we did manage to move the pocket a little. Credit to Heinicke for being as mobile as he was to avoid the slight pressure we did create. I specifically watched AJ, and Groot get sucked up into one on one blocks with little success. To be clear, our defense was dominant, and our front four has overall been great, but it felt important to track their progress in their game as I know it's a point of optimism for many.
7 - Williams - With four 1st round picks on the Washington defensive line and Chase Young being one of them, I was curious to see how our blocking assignments would go. Apparently, eat your Wheaties and do your job was the plan. Williams was a monster at right tackle and looked to be assigned to handle Young all by himself most of the game. Young was able to get some momentum to the backfield, but Williams was able to direct his movement well. Josh's jersey stayed clean all game, and it was massively thanks to Williams being able to handle Young, thus allowing the rest of the line to focus on the other guys. This is not to say Dawkins didn't have a great game, but Williams had the much more challenging assignment.
8 - Stepbrothers - The law firm of Hyde and Poyer was open for business in this game as both had great interceptions. Granted, the throws shouldn't have been made in the first place, but they were in position with speed and conviction each time. These guys were all over the field in this game, leading a fantastic effort by the entire secondary. You can see how they feed off each other, and Poyer continues to be one of my favorite free agent signings of the last decade. When the front four didn't have it today, the secondary said, " I got this," and handled business.
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9 - Beeeezzzzz - Quietly having a double-digit catch day, Beasley lived rent-free in the Washington secondary all game. Beasley was an absolute zone killer and consistent safety blanket for Josh, as he had zero issues finding him after making all his reads. Beyond just the bailouts, Beasley had great YAC. In a game where Sanders had two touchdowns and Diggs finally started getting into a rhythm, Beasley seemed like the backbreaker against Washington as he kept moving the chains, and no one could seem to find him the field besides Josh.
10 - Edmunds - In a game where everything went well, and almost every player seemed to have a highlight reel play, Edmunds was a concern for me again. True to fashion, I will stop talking about Edmunds in post-game thoughts going forward unless something major occurs. What makes Edmunds stand out to me is the big plays everyone around him makes. Milano was great in coverage, and you could see him cover his zone, keep the defender in the back of his eye, and make a break if thrown that way to bat it down. Edmunds seems to react to everything without any anticipation. He missed a few tackles, and most of Logan Thomas' catches were in his zone. Again, we had a tremendous defensive effort, but I would like to start seeing Edmunds start making some plays that constitute his 5th-year option and potential contract extension. The idea of this defense with a play-making middle linebacker is absolutely terrifying.
There are so many thoughts I couldn't express about this game, and I'm relying on a continuation of this dominance going forward to talk about them in the future. I can't say enough about Milano on this team and how happy I am to see 2020 Josh on the field. In a week where the Lions gave the Ravens a tough game (watch the Tucker kick if you haven't already). And the Chiefs lost again. The Bills look good at 2-1 with a strong defense and awakening offense.
BillsFans - Virgil
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