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Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Texans 10/3/21 - A Few Thoughts about the Texans Game, in no particular order

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Virgil
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© Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

 

One of the more well-known comments heard in the NFL is "On any given Given Sunday....", referring to the idea that any team can win any game at any time. Fans see upsets all the time, and this Sunday was no different as a NJ Jets team was able to pull a win out against the Titans. However, sometimes Goliath is just plain Goliath, and they smack David down with a force that makes them question if the NFL is really the right career choice for them. On Sunday, over the course of multiple plays, series, and quarters, Bills players showed Texans players what it's like to have another grown man simply dominate them.
 
1 - Edmunds - If you've been reading along, you would know that I'm not sold on Edmunds as our MLB of the future and do not believe he is worth top 10 money when his current deal runs out. However, if Edmunds could replicate his performance against the Texans towards all future opponents, I would be willing to Venmo the money to the Pegulas myself. It would be easy to call out the interception Edmunds had as his highlight, but that's not the play that stood out to me. The Texans stacked the strong side alongside a few additional receivers. They called a toss to the halfback and mismatched blockers to Bills defenders. While everyone else got swallowed up in the play, Edmunds watched the blocks unfold, picked an open lane, and broke through for a great tackle about 2 yards past the line of scrimmage. This is the kind of play recognition, quick thinking, and decisive action I've wanted to see from Edmunds since he was drafted here.  Additionally, when covering the middle of the field, he was able to get his hands on a few balls for deflections versus tackling the player after the fact. Edmunds was a difference-maker on the field today, which is what your middle linebacker should be.
 
2 - The Replacements - Gene Hackman must've been wearing a McD mask because a lot of guys stepped up today in lieu of many key starters. Cam Lewis was all over the field today, including the backfield in run support. Jaquan Johnson did an amazing job filling in for Poyer and possibly sealed the shutout with a late-game interception. Basham started on the first series in what appeared to be a heavy line set and even recorded his first NFL sack! Ike was solid starting for Feliciano, and I'd argue they had their best rushing game of the season (sorry, Cody Ford). Klein was solid filling in for Milano (please be back for the next two games) and had a tipped pass at the LOS, which led to an interception. Overall, excellent job all around for guys making the most of their opportunities.

 

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© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
 

3 - Not Today - It can be difficult at times to feel a hit from the stands or grasp the speed at which a play can happen. However, Ed Oliver had a stop in the backfield that left the crowd quiet. Oliver shed his block and destroyed the halfback in the backfield so quick that even his momentum ran away scared. This was the play many of us visually when we drafted Ed, and he also played a solid overall game. He showed great speed and relentlessness as he was chasing down plays all over the field. With Star excelling beside him, Oliver was left to feast.
 
4 - Here's the selfless confession
Leading me back to war
Can we help that... our destinations
Are the ones we've been before
 
5 - Defensive Line - The game ball for this game has to go to the defensive line as all of them seemed to make standout plays. Star had his first sack of the season after brushing his defender out of the way like a rag-doll. Hughes and Addison played the edges beautifully and were able to break down a few plays where the Texans were trying some quick screen throws. Groot was fairly silent but was decent in coverage off the line. If this line is able to play even a fraction of this good next week, our chances get incredibly better.

 

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© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
 

6 - Knox - I'm not sure how many more games people need to see from this kid, but Knox seems to really be taking advantage of his third-year growth. Knox was a monster in this game and wide open a lot (I'll get to that later). His first TD showed some great run after the catch, while his other was a great play execution. Knox was again strong in run blocking and caught everything thrown his way. The tape of this game may cause opposing teams to have to account for him, which can only help Allen and the rest of the receivers find better connections. I look forward to seeing how this season ends for the Angry Run season winner.
 
7 - 3rd down/Red Zone - Again this season, the Bills are struggling to convert in the Red Zone and on 3rd downs. What makes this more alarming is how successful they were just last season. A lot of the drives don't have that rhythm to them that keeps the opposing defense off balance or even makes you confident as a fan. The QB sneak, which turned into an outside run, was a beautiful play by Josh, as was the TD to Knox. However, on the play before the Knox TD, Allen scrambled to his right (for what looked like a TD) and hesitated to throw to an open Knox earlier for a TD. Something is missing in these situations, and we are not going to be facing forgiving teams over the next two weeks. We need six instead of 3 if we hope to take either game. 
 
8 - Deep Seam - The Texans played quite a bit of Cover 2 against the Bills, and being in the fans showed me just how many deep passes we missed out on, leaving me with some concerns about Allen's downfield vision or confidence. Sanders is a monster at finding open holes in the zone. On a play that ended in a sack, Josh had Sanders wide open down the middle deep for a touchdown, but he either never saw him or didn't want to pull the trigger. To be clear, this isn't a situation where he was open for a quick second, or Josh was scrambling. Josh was clean in the pocket with no one near him, and I'd say Sanders was open for a full second or two. Even worse, Sanders did the same thing on the next play and was also missed. This is another area that I'm concerned about going into next week's game and about Josh's performance so far this season.
 

 

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© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

 

9 - Diggs - If you want to look at the impact a player can have on an opposing defense, look no further than the touchdown pass to Knox. Diggs was wide open about 10 yards in front of Josh, who pump-faked towards him. The entire secondary jumped towards Diggs on that pump fake, which allowed Knox to become that much more open. That's what a true #1 can do for your team. Even with that level of focus on him, he still managed to haul in a ton of passes and break the hundred-yard receiving mark. Diggs was able to get open deep, and anywhere else he pleased in this game. While it's been a slow start to the season, hopefully, this was a good tune-up game for Diggs and Allen to get ready for the Chiefs next week.
 
10 - Stadium Experience - I've mentioned some of these things after the home opener, but I had to walk around and verify things. After this terribly rainy game (twice in a month), I'm all in for a new stadium. For starters, Allen was terrible in the rain in throwing a first pass interception and missing guys by 5-10 yards. Even if the stadium is five years out, let's give Josh a home he can excel in the following ten years. Secondly, we need wider tunnels for people trying to walk around the stadium not to have to push their way through people waiting in line for food. With so many people trying to take cover from the rain, the tunnels were a nightmare. Lastly, and by far my biggest issue, is the food selection, availability, and signage. There are signs for food above almost every concession stand that isn't actually sold there. The beer area had four options, and none of them were Labatt Blue Light. I couldn't get an Italian sausage anywhere. I had to walk ten sections down to get pizza logs, and they were sold out by halftime.  Most of the concession stands have half of their menu covered up because the selection has been reduced so much. From what I could tell, fan food options are hot dogs (everywhere), pretzels (everywhere), chicken tenders (50%), pizza (50%), buffalo chicken logs (25%), pizza logs (20%), wings (5%), and then basic snacks. I have never seen such poor signage, availability, and stock in my entire history of going to stadiums for any sport or team. It's an absolute joke. 
 
 
We are on to the hardest part of our schedule, and I can't say I feel as confident as everyone else is. While our defensive line has been good, it was fairly neutralized by Washington. Allen was good against Washington but not great against anyone else. Our ability to convert on 3rd down or in the red zone is a huge opportunity. We need this game against the Chiefs, not only for the home-field advantage but to prove to our guys that they can beat them. They are our biggest mental obstacle, and all that stands in the way from fully believing we can win the whole damn thing. Josh needs to be on, the defense needs to swarm, McD needs to get big brother Andy out of his head, and Daboll needs to have some plays dialed up. Mafia... Mount Up!
 
Go Bills!!!

 

BillsFans - Virgil

 

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