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Virgil

A Few Thoughts about the Raiders Game, in no particular order

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© Jamie Germano / USA TODAY NETWORK

 

Growing up as a kid, you remember those moments where your parents saying they were disappointed in you was sometimes worse than any real punishment.  Until I had a kid of my own, I always wondered if that was an intention form of mind game that parents did when they realized standard punishment wasn't getting the job done.  As my daughter gets older, and her actions and behaviors become more intentional, I see more and more what she's capable of, versus when she is just figuring out life.  With that, your expectations as a parent changes and you know when to be supportive versus critical.  You learn when to let them fail, push them, or challenge them on decisions.  It's an interesting dynamic that leads to you making the same comments to your kid that you hated when you were younger of "you'll understand when you are older."

 

1 - Conservative Josh - If you could write a script for what you needed to see from Josh after what was arguably his worst game as an NFL star, the Raiders game was it.  It started with an opening drive that was so vanilla, that I almost wonder if it wasn't called intentionally to make sure Josh understood the message for the game.  After the game, Josh made comments that showed he was very aware of the social commentary from last week and almost felt like a frustrated "can we move past this now" kind of statement.  Josh had a TD to Shakir that made me audibly gasp, but was pretty tame for the rest of the game.  Now, by tame, I mean he didn't have his normal Superman plays or moments where you held your breath because Josh might hurt himself.  He did have one hurdle, that ended with a smile and a helmet grab, but I'll let that one slide.  Instead, Josh played a game with a high completion percentage, waited for the defense to adjust to his play while also fearing what he's capable of, and went on to beat down an inferior team.  The Raiders defense isn't the Jets and we had the lead midway though the 2nd quarter, so there was no need to press.  So, for me, this doesn't mean all is forgiven.  I've been as big a Josh fan as anyone.  I have 5 different jerseys for Josh and appreciate he's the best thing to happen to WNY in over 20 years.  But with that, comes a much higher expectation.  I still need to see Josh keep calm under pressure, when losing, or when the team isn't rallying around him.  If we want that ring, I need to see him be that guy consistently.  We need 13 seconds Josh.  The Raiders game was a good step in that direction and showed that Josh didn't feel like he had to come out an prove a point that Superman Josh is the only way to win.

 

2 - What's a good rotation? - I can't believe I'm going to say this because I hate rotations at positions.  I feel like NFL players need to find their groove and big rotations take up active roster spots on game days.  Also, I don't want to come off like Cook didn't have a great day yesterday, because he absolutely did.  But man, the acceleration that Murray showed behind the line and the power getting low that Harris showed was really impressive yesterday.  I don't know what the answer is here, but I wanted to see more of Murray yesterday.  I almost feel like should use Harris at the goal line (which they did), but rotate Cook and Murray 2-1, with Cook still being the 3rd down back on Murray's series.  We have a very diverse half back room, and I love it.  I almost would like to see Murray out there with Cook, maybe as a blocker from time to time.  Just really give the opposing defense some looks.  Either way, this might be our best running back group in quite a while.

 

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© Jamie Germano / USA TODAY NETWORK

 

3 - Middle zone defense - Before the game was in hand, the Raiders had a few passes to the middle of the field, right where a certain MLB use to cover, and I remember thinking it was going to be a long day.  However, after those first two drives, I never though about it again.  I'm not here to say that Bernard is the answer.  Bernard had a great interception that I initially thought was Benford (Bernard is that small), and overall has done a solid job in not making me think about his existence out there.  That's not meant to be an insult, but if you aren't going to be a super star, the next best compliment I can give is that you didn't do anything to be a liability.  Long story short, through two games, do we really feel like we miss Edmunds?  We still have a long way to go and I know McD is handling that area of the field in a variety of ways, but so far, so good to me.  

 

4 - Yeah, I'm goin' back to that shack way across that railroad track,

Uh huh, that's where I think I belong.

And that's where I'm gonna make my happy home.

 

5 - Scripted plays - Remember the old Malarkey days when we would score every single time to open a game?  Of course, we couldn't score after that to save our lives, but it was still a cool streak.  The Raiders absolutely crushed us with their scripted plays on the first two drives, creating that uneasy feeling for me on the couch.  Most of the plays were some form of misdirection, that also make me worry that we were out of position and not prepare for this game.  Now, that all went away after that second drive and life was good.  But I feel like the scripted plays, at the start of both halves, is not something that Dorsey has figured out yet.  We've had two sluggish starts so far, and I'm really hoping this is something we can turn around with the difficult schedule we have coming up.

 

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© Jamie Germano / USA TODAY NETWORK

 

6 - Red Zone - Again, this is going to sound negative for a team that scored 38 points and was 75% in the red zone, but did anyone else feel like we made it a lot harder on ourselves than we needed to?  Granted, most of our goal line drives started around the 10, which is a fair consideration.  With that, the Davis and Shakir TD's weren't exactly easy, and the missed touchdown seemed way more complicated than it needed to be.  I get it, gimmick plays and misdirection are great if they work, and stupid if they don't.  But it does feel like we are behind the curve here still.

 

7 - Defensive Line - It only took 6 years, but do we finally have the defensive line we've been waiting for under McD?  Floyd is an absolute monster.  Groot is starting to live up to his first round status.  Oliver hasn't gotten home yet, but you can see the impact.  McD even has them running stunts!  While it may not show up in the stat column for sacks, our pass rush has been fantastic so far, and we don't even have Von back.  The only thing I found surprising was AJ out there instead of Groot on some obvious passing third downs.  AJ did great, just wasn't what I was expecting.  If you had to make a list of the positions that win championships, I would argue that getting pressure with your front four is in the top 3 and we are nailing it so far.  Our line was the third best part of this game to me.

 

8 - 3rd quarter close out - I know I just talked about our lack of scripted plays, also referring to how we come out in the second half, as an opportunity.  However, I have to give credit for the 3rd quarter drive that sucked up half the clock.  You want to talk about imposing our will?  That drive was painful if you're a Raiders fan and I would argue led to Cook's big rush to end the game.  We absolutely gassed the Raiders defense in a way that we haven't seen here in a long time. There's been moments of it over the years, but this felt more intentional and well within our capacities as an offense.  Doing this against a Cincy, KC, or Miami team will be huge for us.  Keeps the other offense off the field, kills the clock and morale.  That drive might was the second best part of this game for me.  

 

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© Jamie Germano / USA TODAY NETWORK

 

9 - Rush Defense - Now for the real MVP of this game.  Listening to the pregame report, the Raiders ran more 21 personnel than any other team in week one and they brought with them the 2022 rushing champ.  We held him to negative yards.  Let that sink it.  The Bills defense held the best running back in the league last season to negative yards in this game.  No Edmunds, down early, and heavy packages galore, and McD and the defense all showed up.  That is a message sent to the entire league and something I hope our guys take a lot of pride in. 

 

10 - Milano - I'm really hoping Milano doesn't get randomly drug tested or we find out that someone John Wick'd his dog.  Milano is playing like an angry, angry man out there.  That wasn't just another interception Milano had.  That was a man who was willing to rip the head off another player to get an interception.  I mean, c'mon now.  If you can't get excited about that interception, you might want to check your pulse.  Milano is playing like a man possessed out there and I love it.  I'm already a Milano homer, but he has really stepped it up a level this so far.  I can't wait to see his final season stat line at this rate.

 

 

Overall, good game against a sub .500 team, but a needed performance by many.  I expect the same next week before Miami comes to town.  I'm very curious to see if Elam gets activated for that game, as he is truly our fastest DB and can somewhat keep up with Waddle or Hill.  Either way, should be fun.

Go Bills!!

 

You can find all of Virgil's Articles in the, "A Few Thoughts...Category."

 

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