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Shaw66

THE ROCKPILE REVIEW - “Bottom Feeding”

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3 hours ago, Shaw66 said:

The Bills had another grind-it-out win against an underperforming team Sunday, stopping the Redskins at New Era Field, 24-9.  There was what’s become the typical collection of encouraging plays and puzzling shortcomings, but in the end the Bills had enough to win comfortably. 

 

In these wins, the Bills are more in control of the game than the score indicates, which is little comfort to fans.  A one-score game in the third quarter is still a one-score game, even if, in retrospect, it seems clear that the Bills were in charge.  No one is comfortable waiting for Tre’Davious White to make his play of the game and seal the victory.

 

Put another way, week after week it becomes clearer that the Bills are not a dominant team.  They’re a team that goes about its business seriously, works hard, comes ready to play and beats teams that can’t or don’t bring the same level of commitment to the field.  They understand well that it’s a long game and in the course of the game some things are going to go badly.   They work hard to keep those bad things from happening, but their real strength is in how they respond to adversity.

 

And so it was on Sunday, when Adrian Peterson was being Adrian Peterson, putting up a Hall of Fame afternoon, at least for a half.  The Bills were in charge on the scoreboard, 17-6, but the fans were restless.  The Bills were ugly in short yardage in the red zone, settling for a long field goal after being first and goal from the two and barely sneaking into the end zone on fourth down after failing three times from the one. 

 

In fact, the Bills were in charge.  At the half, Washington hadn’t found the end zone and wouldn’t for the rest of the day.  It was classic bend-don’t-break defense.   Statistically, many of Washington’s numbers were similar to the Bills, but the Bills wouldn’t let Washington finish.  The Bills got the critical third-down conversions and Washington didn’t (6 of 12 for the Bills, 2 for 11 for the Redskins).   Buffalo finished in the red zone and Washington didn’t (3 for 4 vs. 0 for 2). 

 

Wins or not, these games show off the those areas where the Bills just aren’t good enough yet to be a premier team.  The offensive line, for one.  In the off-season, the Bills signed a collection of marginal NFL linemen, hoping to put together a line that would outperform the 2018 version.  That’s what the Bills got – some journeymen who were better than a pretty bad 2018 starting line, but who are still journeymen.  Cody Ford hasn’t stepped up, Dion Dawkins isn’t dominant, and so the Bills struggle on the line.  Sunday they failed miserably in short yardage.  When asked about it after the game, Sean McDermott essentially said “well, I’ll have to look at the film, but I don’t have to look at the film to know that no one was moving his man off the ball.”  

 

Wide receiver, for another.  After last week’s game, I said the Bills need better playmakers on offense, including more speed.   This week, Duke Williams went to the sidelines and the Bills inserted their speed into the lineup, with McKenzie, Foster and Roberts getting much more playing time.  It didn’t help much.  Brown, Singletary, Knox and Beasley still were the pass catchers; the speed boys didn’t contribute much.

 

And the pass rush, for another.  The Bills recorded four sacks against the Redskins and got occasional good pressure, but the pass rush wasn’t enough to make the rookie uncomfortable in his first start .  He was able to stand in the pocket and complete plenty of passes. 

 

One of the sacks was White’s.  It was a crucial play emotionally for the Bills.  They continued to nurse their one-score lead, unable to manage a lot of offense for themselves.  Washington had the ball deep in their own end, and Bills could use a stop for field position and a chance to put up a field goal to create some breathing room on the scoreboard.  On third and ten, White came off the corner, stayed under control as Haskins tried to escape, and made the tackle, forcing the punt.  Energized, the Bills offense drove for the touchdown that essentially ended the game.

 

White’s sack was a good example of why the Bills’ defense is so good.  Their defensive style isn’t what I’d call aggressive, but they aren’t afraid to change things up.  The safeties are in the offensive backfield often, and the Bills will rush a corner off the slot occasionally, but I don’t recall a true corner blitz all season.   The Redskins had no reason to have prepared for that rush, and the surprise element is what made it so effective, along with White’s flawless execution of the play.

 

Devin Singletary sparkled once again.  Having been elevated to the starting role, he gave the Bills exactly what they’d hoped for:  a big play threat who repeatedly sparked drives with his elusiveness and quickness.  The screen pass was perfectly executed and caught Washington off guard.  Singletary has what Gore lacks – the ability to create something when it appears there’s nothing there.  

 

It was surprising that the Bills had the lead with the half that Adrian Peterson had.  He was unstoppable, plowing into the line and staying upright until something opened up for him.  It wasn’t classic Peterson from earlier in his career, but his strength was always underrated.  It was on display Sunday, play after play. 

 

Once Levi Wallace had Peterson in his sights for a big loss.  They were both upright, face-to-face, with Wallace wrapping his arms around Peterson.  Peterson broke free for a short gain.  A fan behind me yelled “HE’S GOTTA MAKE THAT TACKLE!!!”  Well, yes but that’s not just any running back.  That’s Adrian Peterson, and he’s been doing exactly that for a long time.  There’s no shame in being beaten by Adrian Peterson.

 

Tremaine Edmunds was nowhere to be seen on many of Peterson’s first-half runs.  He was either trapped in the wrong gap or unable to get off one-on-one blocks, left to try to chase down Peterson from behind. 

 

McDermott said after the game that the Bills needed to adjust their run fits to respond to Washington’s running game, and it worked.  Edmunds seemed to become more of a factor in the second half, and Peterson was shut down. 

 

Edmund’s problems in the run game notwithstanding, it’s a thing of beauty to watch him close on running backs and receivers.   His combination of size and speed is awesome, and although his isn’t a big hitter, he’s become a solid tackler.   Impressive dude. 

 

Jordan Phillips was promoted to the starting lineup Sunday, and he didn’t disappoint.  Besides being cheerleader No. 1, Phillips was a disruptive force on multiple plays.  In an injury-conscious league, big hits don’t happen too often any more.  His ferocious sack of Haskins electrified the crowd.

 

And there was Josh Allen.  I’ve said Allen will be a star in the NFL, and I continue to believe it.  The big name draft choices from 2018 are struggling, and Lamar Jackson is outplaying them all, but of the top four, Allen is the only one who seems to be steadily improving and showing signs that he will be elite.  

 

Allen keeps getting better in the pocket, hanging in until he has to move, then moving enough to give him the time to make a quality throw.   His escape and throw through Brown’s hands was almost magical; the ball got on Brown so quickly that he couldn’t handle it.  Brown made amends with a great catch on the sideline a few minutes later on another superb Allen throw.  The touchdown to Beasley was beautifully executed, with Allen in complete control.  The back shoulder throw to Brown up the left sideline was a gem, too.  Allen didn’t throw a lot, but when given the opportunity, he looked like a winner.

 

Ball security obviously is a concern with Allen, as are a half dozen other issues that his coaches see but aren’t obvious to me.  Allen is working and learning, and we continue to see the improvement. 

 

It was a solid win against a struggling team.  Now the schedule gets tougher, and we will see just how well the Bills can play.  The Browns won’t be easy, and the Ravens, Cowboys, Steelers, and Patriots are waiting down the road.  It’s been fun so far, and we’ll see what the next month brings.

 

 

GO BILLS!!!

 

The Rockpile Review is written to share the passion we have for the Buffalo Bills. That passion was born in the Rockpile; its parents were everyday people of western New York who translated their dedication to a full day’s hard work and simple pleasures into love for a pro football team.

I couldn't have said it any better awesome take shaw!!

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3 hours ago, freddyjj said:

Well done Shaw66 as usual.  Heard on radio today Bills went with 8 men in box exclusively in 2nd half to stop AP. 

 

Not sure that will be an option vs Dallas, Pats or Ravens.  Those offenses and QBs could take advantage of play action and get favorable matchups. 

 

Curious to get your your take on change in Run D from first to second half. 

The Bills adjusted, the Redskins didn't answer, good move.  

 

It was pretty clear in the first half the Redskins didn't want to put the game in that wind in Haskins' hands, especially because the Bills D is so hard to read.  The Bills went 8 in the box and the Redskins still didn't want Haskins flinging it.  

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3 hours ago, cd1 said:

 

Thanks for the write up, Shaw.

 

I would be interested in your observations with regard to play calling.  

 

I found myself the most frustrated with the plays  - First down and Gore up the middle for one seem to be a favorite yesterday. UGH

The Bills didn't want to throw it a lot, either.  The Bills were run heavy, but it's hard to argue with running a lot when Singletary is getting nearly 5 yards a pop.   Gore really wasn't used all that much except on the goal line, which was a modest disaster.  The call I didn't like was McKenzie down on the goal line.   Go up the field, not horizontally.  

 

I don't worry about play calling.   I think it's an overrated concept.   If you're in a play that doesn't work against a defense, the QB is supposed to check out of it.  If it looks okay, then you run it and execute it.    

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1 hour ago, Shaw66 said:

The Bills didn't want to throw it a lot, either.  The Bills were run heavy, but it's hard to argue with running a lot when Singletary is getting nearly 5 yards a pop.   Gore really wasn't used all that much except on the goal line, which was a modest disaster.  The call I didn't like was McKenzie down on the goal line.   Go up the field, not horizontally.  

 

I don't worry about play calling.   I think it's an overrated concept.   If you're in a play that doesn't work against a defense, the QB is supposed to check out of it.  If it looks okay, then you run it and execute it.    

I try to stay away from the X's and O's conversation as much as possible because I'm just not very knowledgable especially in comparison with some of our fellow Bills fans here on TBD. I do however know enough to realize the point you make on play calling is a good one. Perhaps having a young QB still fairly early in his development deserves as much blame for failure to execute properly as the Bills OC.

 

Something to think about before calling for Dabolls head on a platter...

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8 hours ago, RoyBatty is alive said:

You make good counterpoints, i would like to see it again.   I get sick often watching WR from other teams constantly making one handed cicus catches and I am just hoping the Bills dont have any egregious drops.   I think Zay Jones Buffalo tenure was sealed with the Allen selection, i dont think he could adjust to the velocity of the balls and why he dropped so many.  Jones is much better fit with Oakland third sting playing catch with Peterman's rocket arm.

 

Brown is putting up WR1 number this year. I’m not going to get on him for a drop. He is our biggest threat, hopefully Singletary can be another threat because we are desperate for playmakers right now. 

1 hour ago, Shaw66 said:

The Bills didn't want to throw it a lot, either.  The Bills were run heavy, but it's hard to argue with running a lot when Singletary is getting nearly 5 yards a pop.   Gore really wasn't used all that much except on the goal line, which was a modest disaster.  The call I didn't like was McKenzie down on the goal line.   Go up the field, not horizontally.  

 

I don't worry about play calling.   I think it's an overrated concept.   If you're in a play that doesn't work against a defense, the QB is supposed to check out of it.  If it looks okay, then you run it and execute it.    

 

I just rewatched it and overall the offence was fine. They just need to cleanup some of the short yardage game. I think throwing a few play actions in there might be a good idea to stop teams from cheating on the run. I do wish they gave Josh a few more attempts but I understand why they went run heavy given the wind and their performance in bad weather the previous week. 

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Shaw,

 

I have been reading the Rockpile Review now for years, even over on the old bills site.  I look forward to this every Monday after a game.  You never disapoint.  So first I want to day thank you.

 

I am starting to feel a different tone in these reviews.  For years it seems that you tried to be optomistic even when the bills were horrid.  It seems the expectations have now changed.  For years it was just hoping they would look competitive and maybe squeak a win here and there.  But now it's different isn't it.

 

Now we expect wins, and we wonder why we cannot dominate.   That is a wonderful fundamental change.  I think we can thank this regime for that.  

 

SS

 

PS: You and I have played in a fantasy league together many years ago.  You would have known me then under my old handle and that would have been Flea.

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I keep saying it but the Bills keep doing it - stop running Allen as your short yardage back, especially deep in your own territory.  It cost them dearly in the game against the Eagles, and it damn near cost them again against Washington.  Shaw, you touched on why I think they are though - the line simply isn't good enough in short yardage when they are clearly showing the opponent that they are running the ball.  So you have two ways to go about that - 1) keep doing what you are doing and hope that it gets better; or 2) change up what plays you run in short yardage.   One of those is the obvious choice and one is thickheaded.

 

So here is something the Bills could do: they could change up what they do from the formations that are really huge tells about what they are going to do.  I've not been upset with Daboll's general effectiveness in getting this offense to move the ball.  They do and it's actually not a bad offense in terms of being consistent in that respect.  But the situational play calling and tells on formations drives me mad sometimes.

 

Think about how deadly play action could be for the Bills if they actually decided to do it from those jumbo formations when they never do - if you plant a seed that you could actually take a shot with that formation it could provide more space and commitment to playing off the line a little.  Split a burner like Brown or Foster wide out with an otherwise jumbo formation and if it is single coverage man, then you should have a decent window to hit a crossing route and a potentially big play - if you see the safety cheating over or back to move into that window, then you should have one less defender to worry about if you want to run.  But these are options if you want to start playing a game of cat and mouse with your previous tendencies.

 

The other way is to actually spread out and see what the Defense does to respond to it.  I like the spread out play calling in short yardage for this version of the Bills better than the jumbo because of the type of players they have.  And I also like the idea of Allen under center in it to put pressure on the Defense to guard against a QB sneak - you are forcing the defensive action when you do things like this.

 

But that is the short yardage issue - the other issue is situational play calling.  This team is good enough to be dominant - I truly believe that and I don't think they have tapped that potential yet.  They move the ball well start creating separation and then the play calling gets for lack of a better word - $#!tty.  Keep doing what got you ahead with smart and efficient play calling - don't play it too close to the vest and be one play away from the game turning on you.  That's what I'm seeing - a team that does dominate for stretches and then moves away from what works until they have to again.  You have a good defense - play like you can afford a mistake. If you are successful you certainly will be able to make one later without worrying about the consequences when the game is in hand.   I think that is what is frustrating fans - they see this team capable of making plays when it needs to, but for some reason it appears that they try to coast and protect small leads.  This leads to situations where there is a lot of consequence to a single mistake.  It's more of a philosophy of game management than anything and something that may be by design to help this young team learn, but ultimately they need to start taking the kid gloves off to be more dominant.

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Two things struck me. The Redskins QB wasn't very good and like the Washington coaches stated, he really wasn't ready to start. while he didn't turn it over he did have a QBR of 31.9. Stating that, I wonder that if the Bills had faced a better QB would they have done as well?

 

The other thing is that the only good thing that the Redskins defense had going for them was a really, really very good defensive line. So, rather then dump on the Bills O line, I gotta wonder how many times do you continue to run Frank Gore up the middle before you realize he isn't going to get it done. When you already know that the strongest part of that Washington defense was the line and the LBers, DBs aren't that good...why run straight into the teeth?

 

It has me thinking is it the coaching or does this team want to play down to the competition they are facing or both?

 

Final note, Baker Mayfield is currently grading as the worst starting QB in the league. Yet, this Browns team found the wherewithal to beat the Baltimore Ravens 40-25 mostly with Nick Chubbs legs, 20 carries for 165 yards, 3 TDs, an 8.3 YPC AVG. Knowing that has started to give me nightmares about the Bills defense!  

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Thanks, Shaw for a great post.  I always look forward to reading your Rockpile Review as I am not in the Bills' view area and rarely get to see a game.  

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On 11/6/2019 at 7:39 PM, Ayjent said:

I keep saying it but the Bills keep doing it - stop running Allen as your short yardage back, especially deep in your own territory.  It cost them dearly in the game against the Eagles, and it damn near cost them again against Washington.  Shaw, you touched on why I think they are though - the line simply isn't good enough in short yardage when they are clearly showing the opponent that they are running the ball.  So you have two ways to go about that - 1) keep doing what you are doing and hope that it gets better; or 2) change up what plays you run in short yardage.   One of those is the obvious choice and one is thickheaded.

 

So here is something the Bills could do: they could change up what they do from the formations that are really huge tells about what they are going to do.  I've not been upset with Daboll's general effectiveness in getting this offense to move the ball.  They do and it's actually not a bad offense in terms of being consistent in that respect.  But the situational play calling and tells on formations drives me mad sometimes.

 

Think about how deadly play action could be for the Bills if they actually decided to do it from those jumbo formations when they never do - if you plant a seed that you could actually take a shot with that formation it could provide more space and commitment to playing off the line a little.  Split a burner like Brown or Foster wide out with an otherwise jumbo formation and if it is single coverage man, then you should have a decent window to hit a crossing route and a potentially big play - if you see the safety cheating over or back to move into that window, then you should have one less defender to worry about if you want to run.  But these are options if you want to start playing a game of cat and mouse with your previous tendencies.

 

The other way is to actually spread out and see what the Defense does to respond to it.  I like the spread out play calling in short yardage for this version of the Bills better than the jumbo because of the type of players they have.  And I also like the idea of Allen under center in it to put pressure on the Defense to guard against a QB sneak - you are forcing the defensive action when you do things like this.

 

But that is the short yardage issue - the other issue is situational play calling.  This team is good enough to be dominant - I truly believe that and I don't think they have tapped that potential yet.  They move the ball well start creating separation and then the play calling gets for lack of a better word - $#!tty.  Keep doing what got you ahead with smart and efficient play calling - don't play it too close to the vest and be one play away from the game turning on you.  That's what I'm seeing - a team that does dominate for stretches and then moves away from what works until they have to again.  You have a good defense - play like you can afford a mistake. If you are successful you certainly will be able to make one later without worrying about the consequences when the game is in hand.   I think that is what is frustrating fans - they see this team capable of making plays when it needs to, but for some reason it appears that they try to coast and protect small leads.  This leads to situations where there is a lot of consequence to a single mistake.  It's more of a philosophy of game management than anything and something that may be by design to help this young team learn, but ultimately they need to start taking the kid gloves off to be more dominant.

 

YO! Great post. Post more. 

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On 11/6/2019 at 7:39 PM, Ayjent said:

I keep saying it but the Bills keep doing it - stop running Allen as your short yardage back, especially deep in your own territory.  It cost them dearly in the game against the Eagles, and it damn near cost them again against Washington.  Shaw, you touched on why I think they are though - the line simply isn't good enough in short yardage when they are clearly showing the opponent that they are running the ball.  So you have two ways to go about that - 1) keep doing what you are doing and hope that it gets better; or 2) change up what plays you run in short yardage.   One of those is the obvious choice and one is thickheaded.

 

So here is something the Bills could do: they could change up what they do from the formations that are really huge tells about what they are going to do.  I've not been upset with Daboll's general effectiveness in getting this offense to move the ball.  They do and it's actually not a bad offense in terms of being consistent in that respect.  But the situational play calling and tells on formations drives me mad sometimes.

 

Think about how deadly play action could be for the Bills if they actually decided to do it from those jumbo formations when they never do - if you plant a seed that you could actually take a shot with that formation it could provide more space and commitment to playing off the line a little.  Split a burner like Brown or Foster wide out with an otherwise jumbo formation and if it is single coverage man, then you should have a decent window to hit a crossing route and a potentially big play - if you see the safety cheating over or back to move into that window, then you should have one less defender to worry about if you want to run.  But these are options if you want to start playing a game of cat and mouse with your previous tendencies.

 

The other way is to actually spread out and see what the Defense does to respond to it.  I like the spread out play calling in short yardage for this version of the Bills better than the jumbo because of the type of players they have.  And I also like the idea of Allen under center in it to put pressure on the Defense to guard against a QB sneak - you are forcing the defensive action when you do things like this.

 

But that is the short yardage issue - the other issue is situational play calling.  This team is good enough to be dominant - I truly believe that and I don't think they have tapped that potential yet.  They move the ball well start creating separation and then the play calling gets for lack of a better word - $#!tty.  Keep doing what got you ahead with smart and efficient play calling - don't play it too close to the vest and be one play away from the game turning on you.  That's what I'm seeing - a team that does dominate for stretches and then moves away from what works until they have to again.  You have a good defense - play like you can afford a mistake. If you are successful you certainly will be able to make one later without worrying about the consequences when the game is in hand.   I think that is what is frustrating fans - they see this team capable of making plays when it needs to, but for some reason it appears that they try to coast and protect small leads.  This leads to situations where there is a lot of consequence to a single mistake.  It's more of a philosophy of game management than anything and something that may be by design to help this young team learn, but ultimately they need to start taking the kid gloves off to be more dominant.

I hadn't seen this for a couple of days.   This is excellent.

 

What you sort of say is if you don't have a dominant group of linemen, adding another to the jumbo package doesn't make your running blocking any better - you've just added one more guy who isn't dominant.  Then, by bunching them, you allow the defense to bunch, too, which means that your already not dominant line now has to block the entire defense.  

 

I think what you say is correct - when you're not dominant you have to spread out and make the defense defend the entire field.  Yes, that's a bit risky, but it plays into the Bills' offensive strength - the crossing routes, Josh rolling out, etc.  

 

Thanks for posting. 

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