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Buffalo Bills @ Tennessee Titans - A Few Thoughts about the Titans Game, in no particular order


Virgil
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Image Credit: © Andrew Nelles-USA TODAY Sports

 

Statistics, trends, analytics, whatever you want to call them; they are great for planning and creating your overall strategy. However, once the game begins and new information arrives, you have to make adjustments based upon what you are seeing in the moment. If there's one thing I don't believe we did in this loss, it's to adjust to what was happening in the moment. There's going to be a lot of frustration and arguments as the Bills lose again going into a bye week for the third straight year, as well as conversations about how we are 1 and 2 against teams with a record of .500 or better. With a soft schedule ahead, I expect a lot of dismissal about who we beat and more focus on who we lost to. 
 
1 - Trenches - This game was lost in the trenches on both sides of the ball. The Titans had three guys with their hands planted and one roaming fourth defender come at Josh for most of the game. In some cases, that was enough as the Bills offensive line struggled to pick up the stunt. There were a few plays that Allen looked deep but had to get rid of the ball or get hit as he threw. Motor and Moss were relatively ineffective all game, even though Daboll kept pushing it up until the last drive, the line didn't get much push. Similar to the Steelers game, and what we will probably see against the Bucs, our offensive line is still not able to win the five on four match-ups, allowing the opposing defenses to drop seven into coverage, with two safeties deep.
 
2 - Allen - All had an overall great game, barring the second to last series where he took an unnecessary shot deep against double coverage, setting us up for a long 3rd down. I have no issue with him wanting to take shots downfield, but that wasn't the coverage or time to do it. Had he taken the open underneath passes, we would have had a much more manageable third down and possibly a sustained drive. The slip on the 4th down sneak to end the game was unfortunate, but it's hard to blame Allen for that one. Allen did more than enough to win the game despite the lack of run support, pass rush, and two deep safeties.

 

MozJPEG USATSI_16982952.jpg

 

© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

 
3 - Pass Rush - For a Titans team that gave up seven sacks to the NJ Jets, it's infuriating that we weren't able to generate any pressure in the second half. I understand that we were trying, and failing, to stop Henry, but there were multiple 3rd and long plays in the second half where the Titans were obviously passing. Yes, Henry was in the backfield for a few of those 3rd down plays, but the Titans didn't attempt to run the ball on a single 3rd and long play. So fine; watch out for the draw on the first few occasions, but eventually take a shot and blitz on these 3rd and longs versus giving Tannehill all day to find AJ Brown. Additionally, I don't understand Boogie and AJ being inactive for this game. 
 
4 - Small my table, sits just two
Got so crowded, I can't make room
Oh, where did they come from?... Stormed my room!
And you dare say it belongs to you... to you
 
5 - Henry - Occasionally, I will focus on the strong play of the opposing teams, and Henry deserves that time here. Similar to Aaron Judge and Lebron James. Derrick Henry is a physical specimen that you rarely see at his position. When his career is over and done, he could easily be in consideration as one of the best all-time halfbacks. I remember when he came into the league and was splitting time, with many in media saying he would never be an every-down back. He shouldn't be allowed to be as fast as he is for his size, but he showed it on his break-away touchdown in the first half. He's Tannehill's best friend and caused us to structure our entire offensive game plan around stopping him. Three touchdowns later, Henry showed why he is king, and I tip my hat to him.

 

MozJPEG USATSI_16983574.jpg

 

© George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY Sports

 
6 - Defensive Formation - The Bills ran a lot of a formation that looked similar to a 4-4. We had four guys on the line and four guys (mixture of safety/linebacker/DB) about 5 yards back parallel to the line of scrimmage. It was an interesting stacked box that could commit to stopping Henry or drop back into coverage. On some plays, in fact, for most of the first half, it did a good job of slowing the Titans offense down. Honestly, if you take the Allen interception and Henry's big run out of the first half, the Bills defense did a great job to start the game. In the second half, the Titans made adjustments, our guys got slower as the rushing attack beat on them, and the pass rush was non-existent. The strategy was there, but the execution by the front four wasn't.
 
7 - Best Shot - I don't watch the Titans and generally don't like them as a team, so this is completely based off of body language and what I saw on the field. There's no question in my mind that we got the Titan's absolute best game. Vrabel's face on the sidelines showed as much as he seemed to live and die with every play. The Titans played out of their minds, and we still had multiple chances to put this game away. Unlike when we lost to the Chiefs twice last year, and it looked like they had our number, the recent 0-2 against the Titans doesn't feel the same way to me. We controlled the outcome of this game, and many aspects of our team didn't perform well. It's tough to lose to a likely division winner when we are in an ongoing battle for the one seed, but I do not believe for a second that we lost to a better team.
 
8 - Red Zone - Houston (see what I did there), we have a problem. Controlling the first few series of the game doesn't mean much when you can only put up 6 points. As we saw with the Henry run, all good efforts were wasted on one play, and we were then down by one. The Bills continue to struggle getting touchdowns, and it's cost us twice this season. I don't know what's changed since last season, where we were largely dominant, but it's something we need to use the bye week to address. We have the size in Gabe, Jake, and Knox to win the height battles, but don't take those shots. Above all else, Daboll really needs to get to work here.

 

MozJPEG USATSI_16982966.jpg

 

© George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY Sports

 
9 - Offensive Line - Spencer Brown, the golden child by many, had a rough game out there. He allowed a pressure that led to an interception. Morse and Mongo couldn't communicate on stunt plays, letting guys run free to Josh. Dawkins got destroyed on the final play. Overall, in the second week of their new-look starting lineup, the Bills front 5 were didn't show up when it mattered most, and it showed on the final scoreboard. With no rushing attack, Allen was his normal pass-happy self and made some throws to counter the pass rush. However, with a better effort up front, we could have easily seen a better outcome.
 
10 - The play - Would I have gone for in 4th down at the end of the game? No. I'm conservative like that, and I chose to trust my entire team and let them play it out versus putting all their efforts into one play. I don't blame McD for going for it and understand why. We are allowed to agree to disagree on this one. However, I have an issue with the play call. Like I said in the intro, past game stats are great indicators for future strategy, but this game showed something different. After watching this entire game, it was hard to bet money on the Bills offensive line winning a battle for the game. There's a lot of questions about why the play failed. Was it Allen slipping or Dawkins getting blown off the ball from the snap. What I know is this. The Titans only had four players on the line versus our five, and we still couldn't get a push. Even if Allen didn't slip, you can't say he would have gotten it. Regardless of the outcome, McD shouldn't have gambled the game on us winning in the trenches because the entire game showed you we'd lose. Let Allen play fake and then make a choice. The minute they went to the line, everyone in the stadium knew Allen was going to sneak it over Mongo, including the Titans.
 
 
In full transparency, this game absolutely pissed me off. I could feel it coming all day and the deja vu heading into a bye week is not a great feeling. I felt like we were the better team but couldn't execute or adjust to the Titans play calling. How we couldn't cover AJ on 3rd down in the 2nd half, time after time after time again, was infuriating. Henry getting his yards was to be expected. And the last call will stick with me for a while. Seeing Tannehill smile on the sidelines after a pedestrian day made me want to break my TV, and I had to just put myself to bed. I shouldn't care about the narrative and didn't expect to go 16-1, but I wanted this game. Hopefully, it will keep the Bills honest and lead to necessary changes in the game plan. 
 
Go Bills!!!!

 

BillsFans - Virgil

 

Related: 

Buffalo Bills vs. Tennessee Titans Week 6 game preview

Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs - A Few Thoughts About the Chiefs Game, in no particular order

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5 minutes ago, Virgil said:

Statistics, trends, analytics, whatever you want to call them; they are great for planning and creating your overall strategy.  However, once the game begins and new information arrives, you have to make adjustments based upon what you are seeing in the moment.  If there's one things I don't believe we did in this loss, it's adjust to what was happening in the moment.  There's going to be a lot of frustration and arguments as the Bills lose again going into a bye week for the third straight year; as well as conversations about how we are 1 and 2 against teams with a record of .500 or better.  With a soft schedule ahead, I expect a lot of dismissal about who we beat and more focus on who we lost to. 

 

1 - Trenches - This game was lost in the trenches on both sides of the ball.  The Titans had three guys with their hands planted and one roaming fourth defender come at Josh for most of the game.  In some cases, that was enough as the Bills offensive line struggled to pick up the stunt.  There were a few plays that Allen looked deep, but had to get rid of the ball or got hit as he threw.  The line didn't get much push as Motor and Moss were relatively ineffective all game, even though Daboll kept pushing it up until the last drive.  Similar to the Steelers game, and what we will probably see against the Bucs, our offensive line is still not able to win the 5 on 4 match-ups, allowing the opposing defenses to drop 7 into coverage, with two safeties deep.

 

2 - Allen - All had an overall great game, barring the second to last series were he took an unnecessary shot deep against double coverage, setting us up for a long 3rd down.  I have no issue with him wanting to take shots downfield, but that wasn't the coverage or time to do it.  Had he taken the open underneath passes, we would have had a much more manageable third down and possibly a sustained drive.  The slip on the 4th down sneak to end the game was unfortunate, but it's hard to blame Allen for that one.  Considering the lack of run support, pass rush, and two deep safeties, Allen did more than enough to win the game.

 

3 - Pass Rush - For a Titans team that gave up seven sacks to the NJ Jets, it's infuriating that we weren't able to generate any pressure in the second half.  I understand that we were trying, and failing, to stop Henry, but there were multiple 3rd and long plays in the second half where the Titans were obviously passing.  Yes, Henry was in the backfield for a few of those 3rd down plays, but the Titans didn't attempt to run the ball on a single 3rd and long play.  So fine, watch out for the draw on the first few occasions, but eventually take a shot and blitz on these 3rd and longs versus giving Tannehill all day to find AJ Brown.  Additionally, I don't understand Boogie and AJ being inactive for this game. 

 

4 - Small my table, sits just two
Got so crowded, I can't make room
Oh, where did they come from?... Stormed my room!
And you dare say it belongs to you... to you
 

5 - Henry - Occasionally, I will focus on the strong play of the opposing teams and Henry deserves that time here.  Similar to Aaron Judge and Lebron James. Derrick Henry is a physical specimen that you rarely see at his position.  When his career is over and done, he could easily be in consideration as one of the best all time halfbacks.  I remember when he came into the league and was splitting time, with many in media saying he would never be an every down back.  He shouldn't be allowed to be as fast as he is for his size, but he showed it on his break away touchdown in the first half.  He's Tannehill's best friend and caused us to structure our entire offensive game plan around stopping him.  Three touchdowns later, Henry showed why he is king and I tip my hat to him.

 

6 - Defensive Formation - The Bills ran a lot of a formation that looked similar to a 4-4.  We had 4 guys on the line and 4 guys (mixture of safety/linebacker/DB) about 5 yards back parallel to the line of scrimmage.  It was an interesting stacked box that could commit to stopping Henry or drop back into coverage.  On some plays, in fact for most of the first half, it did a good job of slowing the Titans offense down.  Honestly, if you take the Allen interception and Henry big run out of the first half, the Bills defense did a great job to start the game.  In the second half, the Titans made adjustments, our guys got slower as the rushing attack beat on them, and the pass rush was non-existent.  The strategy was there, but the execution by the front four wasn't.

 

7 - Best Shot - I don't watch the Titans and generally don't like them as a team, so this is completely based off of body language and what I saw on the field.  There's no question in my mind that we got the Titan's absolute best game.  Vrabel's face on the sidelines showed as much as he seemed to live and die with every play.  The Titans played out of their minds and we still had multiple chances to put this game away.  Unlike when we lost to the Chiefs twice last year and it looked like they had our number, the recent 0-2 against the Titans doesn't feel the same way to me.  We controlled the outcome of this game and many aspects of our team didn't perform well.  It's tough to lose to a likely division winner when we are in an ongoing battle for the one seed, but I do not believe for a second that we lost to a better team.

 

8 - Red Zone - Houston (see what I did there), we have a problem.  Controlling the first few series of the game doesn't mean much when you can only put up 6 points.  As we saw with the Henry run, all good efforts were wasted on one play, and we were then down by one.  The Bills continue to struggle getting touchdowns and it's cost us twice this season.  I don't know what's changed since last season, where we were largely dominant, but it's something we need to use the bye week to address.  We have the size in Gabe, Jake, and Knox to win the height battles, but don't take those shots.  Above all else, Daboll really needs to get to work here.

 

9 - Offensive Line - Spencer Brown, the golden child by many, had a rough game out there.  He allowed a pressure which led to an interception.  Morse and Mongo couldn't communicate on stunt plays, letting guys run free to Josh.  Dawkins got destroyed on the final play.  Overall, in the second week of their new look starting lineup, the Bills front 5 were didn't show up when it mattered most and it showed on the final scoreboard.  With no rushing attack, Allen was his normal pass happy self and made some throws to counter the pass rush.  However, with a better effort up front, we could have easily seen a better outcome.

 

10 - The play - Would I have gone for in 4th down at the end of the game?  No.  I'm conservative like that and I chose to trust my entire team and let them play it out, versus putting all their efforts into one play.  I don't blame McD for going for it and understand why.  We are allowed to agree to disagree on this one.  However, I have an issue with the play call.  Like I said in the intro, past game stats are great indicators for future strategy, but this game showed something different.  After watching this entire game, it was hard to bet money on the Bills offensive line winning a battle for the game.  There's a lot of questions around why the play failed.  Was it Allen slipping or Dawkins getting blown off the ball from the snap.  What I know is this. The Titans only had 4 players on the line versus our 5 and we still couldn't get a push.  Even if Allen didn't slip, you can't say he would have gotten it.  Regardless of the outcome, McD shouldn't have gambled the game on us winning in the trenches because the entire game showed you we'd lose.  Let Allen play fake and then make the choice.  The minute they went to the line, everyone in the stadium knew Allen was going to sneak it over Mongo, including the Titans.

 

 

In full transparency, this game absolutely pissed me off.  I could feel it coming all day and the deja vu heading into a bye week is not a great feeling.  I felt like we were the better team but couldn't execute or adjust to the Titans play calling.  How we couldn't cover AJ on 3rd down in the 2nd half, time after time after time again was infuriating.  Henry getting his yards was to be expected.  And the last call will stick with me for a while.  Seeing Tannehill smile on the sidelines after a pedestrian day made me want to break my TV and I had to just put myself to bed.  I shouldn't care about the narrative and didn't expect to go 16-1, but I wanted this game.  Hopefully it will keep the Bills honest and lead to necessary changes in game plan. 

 

Go Bills!!!!

 

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  As I had recently said on another thread here the Titans/Oilers have handed us unexpected losses over the years so I was wary of this game.  Good observation about the line matchup and figure this will not be an issue for most of the games yet to be played.  While many dream of WR and LB high in the 2022 draft OL may be a priority if a player is there that is worthy of the draft slot where we fall.  

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#4---I've owned that album for nearly 30 years and didn't know those were the exact lyrics! Thanks. 

 

@Virgil, I used to get really angry after games like this. But this one, while annoying, is part of the bigger picture, in that they MUST learn how to punch scores in once January rolls around. I'm pretty happy this happened now, and not in a Divisional round game, ending a season with so much promise.

 

Two weeks to heal, and then we eat sushi back home in the friendly confines. I "may" try to attend that game, if anyone here is going.

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21 minutes ago, Seasons1992 said:

#4---I've owned that album for nearly 30 years and didn't know those were the exact lyrics! Thanks. 

 

@Virgil, I used to get really angry after games like this. But this one, while annoying, is part of the bigger picture, in that they MUST learn how to punch scores in once January rolls around. I'm pretty happy this happened now, and not in a Divisional round game, ending a season with so much promise.

 

Two weeks to heal, and then we eat sushi back home in the friendly confines. I "may" try to attend that game, if anyone here is going.

  A particular fear I had going in was the Titans DL.  I think Spencer Brown will rebound quite well from this.

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1 hour ago, Virgil said:

Even if Allen didn't slip, you can't say he would have gotten it.

 

 

Thanks again for your article. I mentioned this elsewhere, but I think if it was 4th and goal, the play is different. But it was 4th and literally inches for a first down, with one time out left. I suspect they felt they could get the TD, but at the very least, get the first down, which they've been otherwise successfully able to do with Allen 98% of the time.

 

Inches was it we needed. Still infuriating. But I get the call.

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Tennessee was the stronger team (physically) in the 2nd half.  That was the ballgame.  Bills still need a more potent running game from their running backs. 

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3 hours ago, Virgil said:


7 - Best Shot - I don't watch the Titans and generally don't like them as a team, so this is completely based off of body language and what I saw on the field. There's no question in my mind that we got the Titan's absolute best game. Vrabel's face on the sidelines showed as much as he seemed to live and die with every play. The Titans played out of their minds, and we still had multiple chances to put this game away. Unlike when we lost to the Chiefs twice last year, and it looked like they had our number, the recent 0-2 against the Titans doesn't feel the same way to me. We controlled the outcome of this game, and many aspects of our team didn't perform well. It's tough to lose to a likely division winner when we are in an ongoing battle for the one seed, but I do not believe for a second that we lost to a better team.

 

As others have pointed out, they are a tough match up for us.  I didn't want to see them in the playoffs last year, and don't want to see them this year either.  However, last year was a 25 point loss.  This year, even with all the miscues, we lost by a foot.  So yeah, encouraging that we were almost good enough to overcome all of that, but for me it makes the outcome infuriating. 

 

OL is a big concern.  It felt like Josh was rushed all night.  Twice he didn't see wide open receivers in the end zone and I'm assuming that's directly related to how often he was under duress.

 

I still like the 4th down decision.

 

Now that bad penalties have directly cost us a game, maybe guys will listen when coach preach about them.

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4 hours ago, Seasons1992 said:

#4---I've owned that album for nearly 30 years and didn't know those were the exact lyrics! Thanks. 

 

@Virgil, I used to get really angry after games like this. But this one, while annoying, is part of the bigger picture, in that they MUST learn how to punch scores in once January rolls around. I'm pretty happy this happened now, and not in a Divisional round game, ending a season with so much promise.

 

Two weeks to heal, and then we eat sushi back home in the friendly confines. I "may" try to attend that game, if anyone here is going.

 

I have attended only the opener and last night. I don’t feel like it’s a good idea for me to join you there. 

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Singletary averaged 5.4 yards per carry. How was he ineffective? For some reason, they decided to go with Moss twice as often and he averaged 3 yards per carry.

 

Underused does not mean the same thing as ineffective.

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2 hours ago, Boxcar said:

Singletary averaged 5.4 yards per carry. How was he ineffective? For some reason, they decided to go with Moss twice as often and he averaged 3 yards per carry.

 

Underused does not mean the same thing as ineffective.

Im a Moss over Devin homer but Devin truly was making them miss. I wish we would see more of a bellcow runner philosophy. If a runner is playing well play him till he sweats blood. We can get another in a couple years. (hint, lots of sarcasm here) 

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Great write-up as always, Virgil!

 

Spencer Brown, the golden child by many, had a rough game out there. He allowed a pressure that led to an interception.

 

Um. I'm not sure that's entirely fair. Brown had inexplicably been moved to OG for the first half, which is when the aforementioned interception occurred. The move to guard hurt him in two ways: 1) His tall frame is much better-suited to OT than to OG. 2) Thus far he's spent his rookie year learning to be the best offensive tackle he can be. Now, just as he's starting to learn one position, move him to a different position? This seems like a bizarre experiment at best, especially when you're going up against a team as good as the Titans.

 

One of the jobs of a coaching staff is to set your players up to succeed. The coaching staff did not do that here.

 

I do not believe for a second that we lost to a better team.

 

On this I completely agree. The Bills had it in them to win this game. They absolutely, 100% could have won the game. That's what makes this so frustrating. It was a series of little things which led to the loss. Bad Josh making a periodic appearance, the boneheaded Spencer Brown to OG experiment, some of our defensive linemen being inactive for the game, some of the offensive linemen not having their best day, the defense as a whole not playing the way it should.

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2 hours ago, Arm of Harm said:

Great write-up as always, Virgil!

 

Spencer Brown, the golden child by many, had a rough game out there. He allowed a pressure that led to an interception.

 

Um. I'm not sure that's entirely fair. Brown had inexplicably been moved to OG for the first half, which is when the aforementioned interception occurred. The move to guard hurt him in two ways: 1) His tall frame is much better-suited to OT than to OG. 2) Thus far he's spent his rookie year learning to be the best offensive tackle he can be. Now, just as he's starting to learn one position, move him to a different position? This seems like a bizarre experiment at best, especially when you're going up against a team as good as the Titans.

 

One of the jobs of a coaching staff is to set your players up to succeed. The coaching staff did not do that here.

 

I do not believe for a second that we lost to a better team.

 

On this I completely agree. The Bills had it in them to win this game. They absolutely, 100% could have won the game. That's what makes this so frustrating. It was a series of little things which led to the loss. Bad Josh making a periodic appearance, the boneheaded Spencer Brown to OG experiment, some of our defensive linemen being inactive for the game, some of the offensive linemen not having their best day, the defense as a whole not playing the way it should.

He was at RT for the interception. Autry blew by him to affect the pass. It wasn't a great game for Brown but he's a rookie still figuring out technique and these are going to happen from time to time.

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23 hours ago, Ninety-4 said:

Tennessee was the stronger team (physically) in the 2nd half.  That was the ballgame.  Bills still need a more potent running game from their running backs. 

Bills lost the game in the trenches which reflects on the running game, pass protection and pass rush on D.

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1 hour ago, Figster said:

Bills lost the game in the trenches which reflects on the running game, pass protection and pass rush on D.

Even though we were bullied for the most part, the game should not have been close. If the refs weren't blind, we probably win handily.

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4 hours ago, Foxx said:

Even though we were bullied for the most part, the game should not have been close. If the refs weren't blind, we probably win handily.

Refs aren't blind

outcome looks like they had specific instruction to keep the game close for their TV partner

mission accomplished

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