Image Credit: © Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
At this point, it's hard not to feel like a broken record when talking about the 2021 Bills. They aren't physical enough in the trenches. They have zero rushing attack. The Bills can't beat anyone with a winning record. As Bills fans, we try to make excuses and talk about any given Sunday. Still, after 12 games, it's time to start accepting that the Bills are not going to live up to the preseason expectations, and they are no longer the Superbowl favorites we all hoped for.
1 - No Excuses - We've known all week what the weather would be like for this game, and both teams had to play in it. The weather did affect some kicks, but ultimately, it wasn't the hurricane we thought it would be. Regardless, the Patriots came in and did exactly what we thought they would, and there was nothing we could do to stop it. You don't get to pick the weather or where you play. In the conference currently, the Ravens, Chiefs, Patriots, and Titans would all have home games. Three of those four teams will be in brutal winter conditions. With that being said, Beane and company built a team that cannot win low-scoring, physical, weather-affected games. It's no longer an opinion. It's what the results tell us. Our stadium isn't going to magically get a dome next year, and those previously mentioned teams aren't going anywhere. So what's next for the high-powered offense that only seems to thrive in the right conditions? That's a great question.
2 - Allen - Josh is probably the only highlight of this game for me. He did show off his arm through the weather and honestly placed most balls pretty well. The offense didn't help him out much at all (I'll get to that later). Josh threw for the game's only passing touchdown on a dart to Gabe. He should've had two, but the Pats defender held up Davis just enough on the second pass to throw off the timing (Nice no-call refs). Josh had a few solid runs, but only one actually called by Daboll. I can point the blame in a lot of places for this game, but Josh is clear for me.
© Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
3 - Drops - In a game where passes were at a premium, none of the receivers really came to play tonight. Diggs had one good catch deep down the sideline: a beautiful back-shoulder catch. However, he dropped a sure touchdown in the endzone that hit him in the hands, mainly because he lost track of the ball. Knox had two big drops and got out-muscled in the endzone at the end of the game. Sanders also had three drops while. I'm not sure if you want to call Breida's fumble a drop, but it sure was ugly. Why can't these units show up in big games is beyond me at this point.
4 - What you say when they give the guy the go-ahead?
What you gonna say? Olé!
What you say, what you say when your spitting up on your bed?
What you gonna say? Olé!
What you say, what you say when you've had enough of knuckleheads
What you gonna say? Olé!
What you say, now, what you say when you've seen enough bloodshed?
What you gonna say? Stop!
5 - Linebackers - Minus the last drive where Milano had back to back tackles for loss by shooting the gap, Edmunds and Milano were absolutely terrible in this game. Edmunds over-pursued the play (alongside Hyde) on the big run, and he was getting engulfed by blockers all game. Milano was also just pushed around off the ball. For most of the game, we had four on the line and 4 LB/S about 5 yards off the ball, same as against the Colts and Titans (remember how that went?). I can't wait to see the All-22 and the grades they hand out. I'll put some of it on Frazier for not adjusting more, and you could argue they only scored 14. But 14 in a game where the offense threw three total passes is completely unacceptable.
© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
6 - Daboll - One Time. Daboll called a designed run for Allen one time. Take out the Motor run for 10+ at the end of the game, and the Bills rushing attack averaged less than 3 yards a game. In the same conditions where the Pats had over 200 yards in the 3rd quarter, the Bills weren't even close to being able to match it. Watching our runningbacks go straight up the middle while the Pats ran counters, cutbacks, and other zone-style runs was an embarrassment. Daboll may be a great passing coordinator, but this is now multiple years in a row where he's shown zero ability to generate a rushing attack. And, while I don't like putting him in harm's way, to make zero attempt to utilize the best runner you have in Josh is pathetic.
7 - Redzone - I wish I could just place this all on Daboll, as the Bills had two red-zone attempts at the end of the game result in zero points, but it was a team effort. We had a false start on Knox, we had a no-call against Davis, we had Sweeney blocking Judon, and we had our kicker miss an FG, which made a future attempt at an FG a moot point. The Bills could have won this game on multiple occasions, but it was all on display during those two red-zone trips, as they have plagued us all season.
8 - Defense - 3 pass attempts. The Pats had three passing attempts, with two of them coming on the second to last drive. Knowing that they still rushed for over 200 yards and consistently got chunk plays against us. We had the same scheme that's failed us twice before and still rolled it out there. At this point, I don't even know what to say or do about it besides accepting that we are a soft team who can't get home against the quarterback and only beats up on weaker opponents. Seriously, three pass attempts, and we still can't stop them.
© Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
9 - McD - You have to start to wonder if the McD clapping process is starting to lose its luster. I'm not calling for McD or anything like that, but it's hard to deny how this team doesn't show up in big situations and continuously gets dominated by more physical teams. As the head coach, get involved with the coordinators and demand changes. I'm getting tired of seeing McD get fired up on the sidelines about the quick delay of game penalty or whatever else didn't go our way. If he wants to get fired up, go off on a player for a penalty that kills a drive. Lay into some guys after they allow a 50+ touchdown run. Take over play-calling again when you don't see the results on the field. Whatever it is, this team does not have the same swagger as it did last year, and that's on McD.
10 - 20 vs. 1 - The Pats were a joke last season, and all signs pointed to a full rebuild. As a Bills fan, many of us relished in the idea of the Pats fans having to endure a 20-year rebuild like the Bills went through. One year. It took one year and a lot of money. To be a full game and tiebreaker behind the Pats this late in the season, after giving up a home game to them, makes me want to throw up. I agree that we didn't get to see much of Mac Jones in this game, nor do we know how his career will go. However, just to see them leading the division already after only one down year after all that we went through is ridiculous. It honestly makes the drought feel worse to me because right now, I don't feel as comfortable as I did regarding us having to blow up parts of this team and having to fight the Pats again for the next 20 years.
I typically try to wait a day to post these so that I can calm down a bit. In this case, I feel the frustration is justified. We don't have a team that can win tough, physical games, and at this point, it's a systematic issue that isn't going to be fixed by moving around a few players or coordinators. We need an entirely new offensive rushing system, which may require different players. We need to abandon the rotating defensive line for tough, big, physical guys who can't be moved off the point of attack. We need leaders on this team who are going to push every player through each game. Right now, we are regular-season heroes who will pray they will play dome teams who can't run the ball.
BillsFans - Virgil