Image Credit: © Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
The Buffalo Bills, the coaches and the players, have a lot of work to do. All the fans have to do is remember that it’s a long season, and what matters is the next game. Every week, it’s the next game.
The Bills lost to the Jaguars on Sunday afternoon, 9-6. The Bills have been looking worse and worse, week after week. Kansas City, Tennessee, Miami, and now Jacksonville.
To be fair, it’s not the Bills who have been looking worse and worse. It’s the Bills’ offense. The defense has motored right along, somehow not looking dominant but getting the job done. The defense held the Jags to 218 yards, way below the Bills league leading 262 per game, and to 9 points, way below the Bills’ league leading 15 per game. Jacksonville’s offense did more or less nothing and was fortunate to get three field goals. Fortunate, because Sean McDermott inexplicably declined a holding penalty and left the Jags in field goal range on 4th down.
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Josh Allen was more or less horrible. He threw two interceptions, and fumble on a play where he should have handed off for a key first down. He missed some guys, and he stood in the pocket looking endlessly for openings. Either the opportunities weren’t there – likely, or Josh didn’t know what he was looking at.
In his defense, Allen took an absolute beating. The offensive line imploded. Once again, they were largely ineffective in the run game. Allen had all the meaningful runs, and they were on scrambles, not designed runs. And the offensive line repeatedly failed to protect Allen. Allen was sacked four times and hit eight times, and he was running for his life on multiple other plays. Williams at right guard and Spencer Brown at right tackle are a much better combo than Cody Ford at guard with Williams sliding over to tackle. Williams is clearly better at guard than Ford, and Brown better than Williams at tackle. Brown needs to get back in the lineup. Dion Dawkins wasn’t winning any prizes, either.
Penalties were bad, but they didn’t determine the outcome. If your team gives up only three field goals in the entire game, how bad could penalties have hurt? Penalties didn’t cost the offense three touchdowns. The penalties were just an indicator of how far from a good team the Bills were on Sunday.
Fans kept waiting for the offense to wake up, for that Allen magic to take over and win the game. One TD would do it, and there were glimmers of hope when Allen connected with Singletary and Diggs, but the final drive was like the rest of the game – missed opportunities, and Allen under too much pressure.
© Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
If the Bills can’t run the ball, they have to get Stefon Diggs more involved.
Dawson Knox’s return should help, when it happens.
But if the line can’t protect Allen, it’s going to be a struggle.
Repeating last week’s theme, this is the part of the season that separates the good teams from the rest. One thing the good teams do this time of year is figure out how to make their offenses work, now that the league has figured out how to stop them. The Bills are getting stopped, the Chiefs are getting stopped.
This is the part of the season where the running game has to start producing the tough yards. The Bills offense doesn’t look like last season’s offense, primarily because the 8-15 yard completions over the middle, the crossing routes and the little Beasley slants that always produced first downs. They’re not there because teams are ignoring the play fake and simply taking away the passing lanes. Teams are ignoring the play fake because they know the running game won’t hurt them.
Maybe the Bills’ offensive line, particularly with Feliciano gone and Brown down, simply isn’t good enough. Maybe Brian Daboll doesn’t have the creativity to revitalize the offense. But it’s a long season, and it’s played one game at a time.
The Jets are the next test. They will be ready. The question is whether the Bills will be.
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