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Virgil
Virgil

Where is the data to suggest that things will change?

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The first week of the season was interesting, to say the least.  There were some scores and performances that were truly head scratchers.  While I could use the term "any given Sunday" for a lot of those games, the Bills game just feels different.  This didn't feel like a fluke game for Josh, the players, and the coaches.  No, this felt like the game right after the Bengals loss.  For me, that's why this game hurts so much.  I don't care that it was against the Jets or on MNF, I care that there is no data to suggest that this team has taken any type of step forward in the areas that matter.  

 

Now, there were positives in this game

  • James Cook was clearly the number one back and did well enough in the role.  
  • Defensive pass rush with Floyd and Groot looked really good.  However, isn't the Jets offensive line not that great?
  • Milano looked like a beast and a true disrupter.  The PF was stupid on his part
  • Bass continues to be solid
  • Diggs got his touches and broke 100 yards

 

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But here's where I'm just plain depressed and am hoping it wears off over the next few days, because right now...I have no reason to be optimistic about this upcoming season

  • Dorsey actually looked decent in the first quarter.  Used Harty in a way that made me realize why we signed him.  Ran some power formations that he passed out of.  Overall had some good looks.  Once he ran through his scripted plays, is when things went off the rails
  • Did we run a single 12 man, basic line-up?  I'm talking 5 lineman, 1 TE on both sides, Diggs and Davis on the alternate sides out wide, and Cook in the backfield.  Very simple, very vanilla, just run formation with our guys against yours.  The Jets stayed in the same 4 lineman, 7 in coverage almost the entire game.  The linebackers, 2 or 3 at times, were 4-5 yards off the ball.  Why not just use basic match and say, our 7 guys are going to take out your front 4 and get an easy 3-5 yards each rush.  Run it to every possible gap, and repeat.  Sure, we may not get a first down every time, but do it until the Jets adjust because they would eventually have to.   That's when Josh eats.  This also sets up the play action, so we can use that guy we just spent a number one pick on.  Also, on the game tying drive at by Josh, that was one of the few drives that Josh did well because the Jets started to blitz.  This all seems so obvious to me, but maybe I'm missing something
  • The draw play on the last drive.   Should one play define a coordinators entire game?  No.  But when you run the ball against their best defensive lineman behind your worst offensive lineman, you need to explain that.  Again, maybe I'm stupid, I'm betting on that play to lose 10 times out of 10.
  • Where were the bunch formations?  Jets were in a spread zone and don't move Sauce around.  Bunch the other side of the field and run the tosses, quick screens to that side.  Again, basic math
  • For the first time in Josh's career, I feel like he's peaked.  Great, elite QB's, don't do what Josh did tonight.  It's not the 3 interceptions and fumble, but it kind of is.  It's the fact that everyone knew how the Jets were going to play him.  Hell, even Josh knew and admitted it.  What does he do with this information?  The same thing he always does against defenses like this.  Take the underneath stuff to start the game, get frustrated, and then start pushing it downfield.  The first interception, I gave a pass.  He couldn't have ran with it like some people think because alternate camera angles showed a player waiting for him 7 yards downfield.  That interception was basically a punt.  The second interception was just plain stupid and potentially cost us at least 3 points, as we were a first down away from being in range.  The last two turnovers were all Josh and his lack of concentration.  You want to be elite?  We can't be talking about your ability to think in the 4th quarter.
  • The big play ratio.  Count the big plays between teams?  The Jets had at least 2 and we had zero.  I'm talking chunk yardage plays.  No matter how much the defense changes we are good for at least two a game and it never changes.
  • The big needs.  I've said all offseason that we needed to address OT, MLB, and pass catcher.  We got a pass catcher, but didn't feel the need to use him.  Brown was an absolute liability out there and Dorsey had to give him help on multiple plays.  Bernard got tackled as much by his own feet and teammates as he did the other team.  Dude got absolutely absorbed or blown up on multiple plays.  He did have one good tackle that showed promise, but McD finally stepped up and started bring Rapp into the game more.  Again, I wouldn't be so mad if the obvious weaknesses weren't so damn obvious and we all saw them coming.

 

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So here we are, only 0-1 with a whole season ahead of us.  My problem is, what data is there to suggest that this season is going to be any different from the last 6.  Josh isn't taking the next step and adjusting his issues.  Dorsey doesn't know how to call plays to his players strengths, what is happening on the field, or make second half adjustments.  The defense is great, but gives up enough big plays to keep the other team in it.  We are good enough to beat 70% of the teams, but we can't step up in the big games when it matters.  13 seconds might be the best game of this teams era, but we still lost.  Because that's what we do in the big games.  Some part of our team finds a way to lose. 

 

I can't get excited for the Raiders and Commanders, because I still expect to win and it will mean nothing.  There's just no data to suggest that this team is going to take the next step and it became obvious in the first game of the season.  There's no data to suggest that this team can make adjustments.  Until further notice, I'm just meh about it all.  

 

And here's the only truly extreme comment I will make about changes.  I like McD and the culture he created.  But he's also no absorbed in the defense and hands off with the offense.  He's allowed Josh to surround himself with a coordinator that Josh likes and back-ups that are Josh's friends.  Josh needs someone who is going to bench his ass, punch him in the mouth, and make him actually accountable in the moment.  That doesn't exist right now except for Diggs.  That's not enough.  Josh isn't going to change on his own and right now, I don't know who else is going to push him.  If there is a downfall of McD, it will be that.

 

Go Bills

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