© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
My apologies for this lateness, but work and the upcoming holiday shifted my priorities a bit. Watching the games this weekend, the reality of this COVID world was ever apparent as teams were missing key players. Division games showed bizarre resorts as Marsha was smacked all over the field. The hapless Detroit Lions found a way to dominate the Cardinals, and multiple teams threw back up or third-string quarterbacks to the wolves. It's unfortunate to have these last few weeks of the regular season impacted like this. It's affected every team differently, but it's the world we live in now.
1 - Josh - While I think Josh played an overall good game, you could tell his toe was bothering him. Surprisingly to me, it seemed to bother him more when he didn't have pressure (which wasn't very often). When he could stay in the pocket and plant his feet, he put a few balls into the ground. When he was evading the rush, and I assume the adrenaline kicked in, he was accurate and played solid ball. If Gabe weren't held, he would have delivered a beautiful deep strike for a potential touchdown. That may have been his most impressive throw until he actually hit Gabe for a laser touchdown. Watching it live, there seemed to be no potential way Josh was completing that pass. However, most don't have the cannon Josh has either. With a defender near him and two more closing in, Josh broke the sound barrier hitting Gabe in the chest. As impressive as the throw was, the trust in Gabe to make that catch also goes to show why Gabe needs to be our #2.
2 - Motor - There's been a lot of debate around what needs to be done to fix our rushing attack. Is it our offensive line or halfbacks? Well, this game isn't going to answer either of those questions. However, I would now say it's 1 - Scheme, 2 - Line, 3 HB Talent. With one of our weakest offensive line groups of the season, Motor saw one of his better overall games. His first rushing touchdown is all you can ask of a top-tier back. It was 20+ yards, showed burst, and broke some tackles. We didn't over-commit to the run, and I would argue this was about the perfect balance for a Josh-led offense. Motor got almost all of the snaps and seemed to find a nice rhythm. Motor still doesn't have the top-end speed for toss plays I would like to see, but he did more than enough in this game to show why he should be our lead back for the rest of the season. Holding onto the ball helped too.
© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
3 - Spencer - Outside of an offensive lineman being a revolving door, Spencer Brown had possibly the worst game an offensive line player can have. Yes, he played out of position and against a very fast Panthers defensive line. Even with that, to have five penalties called against him, including one for taunting, is completely unacceptable. McD did the right thing pulling him off the field. I loved his participation in the Diggs beer celebration, and you can tell he brings a lot of energy to the offense, but he needs to find a healthy outlet for it that doesn't hurt the team.
4 - Ladyfinger dipped in moonlight
Writing "What for?" across the morning sky
Sunlight splatters dawn with answers
Darkness shrugs and bids the day good-bye
Speeding arrow, sharp and narrow
What a lot of fleeting matters you have spurned
Several seasons with their treasons
Wrap the babe in scarlet covers, call it your own
5 - Cam - While I know he's on a huge downward trajectory, I do want to take a moment and admire how hard of a player he is to pull down. The Bills hit Cam in the backfield multiple times this game, only to have Cam shrug them off and break away for a solid gain. He didn't run enough to merit putting a spy on him, but he found his yards in key situations. There are a lot of comparisons between Cam and Josh, and I'm used to seeing Josh break those sacks, but I have to tip my cap to Cam's overall athleticism.
© Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
6 - Diggs - While not a great game for him overall, I have to acknowledge that he broke 1,000 yards with three games left to play. It's been a quiet year for Diggs overall, but he does provide a sense of stability at the receiver position we haven't had in a long time. As for his touchdown, did anyone else forget that Gilmore plays for the Panthers now? To see Diggs physically dominate Gilmore on that play and then host such a fantastic celebration afterward made it all a little bit sweeter.
7 - Defensive Line - Multiple guys on the line had some shining moments in this game. They were spread out enough that it's hard to say who was the MVP. Phillips started over Star and was pretty solid up the middle. He's quietly had an upward trajectory performance these past few weeks. Obada absolutely blew up a late series by sacking Cam twice. Boogie did a great job reading an RPO with a tackle for a loss. No, they didn't go up against McC or a top-tier offense, but it was still good to see some production from these guys.
8 - Frazier - I wish I could be in the strategy room to understand better when and why Frazier decides to send heat because it's so hit or miss from game to game. The Bills sent a 5th rusher quite a bit in this game. Unfortunately, the 5th rusher was also a DB who Cam was able to shrug off. The Bills hit home a few times with it and seemed to confuse Cam enough to break up some plays. However, I'm still not seeing Frazier effectively implement stunts or other movements on the line to create better pressure with the front four.
© Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
9 - Milano - Again, while not exactly going up against a world-beater offense without McC, Milano showed great coverage and closing speed. He had a few plays where he forced the incompletion with a quick hit. He tracked outside runs quickly and got pressure in the backfield more than a few times. The gap between him and Edmunds seems ever-apparent to me, but I'm tired of beating that drum.
10 - Moving Forward - We all know where we go next week. No matter who is going to be out for this game (minus Josh), we can't have any excuses for this game. The division is on the line, and most likely the playoffs. If we can't go into Foxboro and beat this team, then we quite honestly don't deserve to make the playoffs anyways. The previous game's tape is basically useless, and the fans will be loud. This is easily the biggest game of our season, and it's put-up or shut-up time. A win, and somehow all feels right in the world again. A loss and I think many will be questioning the fundamental makeup of this team. Either way, it should be an interesting game.
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