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Last Guy on the Bench

Why Last Year's Defensive Record Might Be Deceiving

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Side note, though, is that we have had a top 10 defense for the previous 3 years and right now we are sitting at 20th.

 

I agree with what was said by someone on GR this morning, we may be missing Star a bit.  EJ Gaines' experience wouldn't hurt, either.  Not all of the woe are due to some of these guys out, but it doesn't help.

 

I truly respect the guys who made the tough decision to opt out.  There reasons are there own, and I get it.  Family first, amen.

 

...but if you didn't hate COVID enough in 2020...

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We've had double digit leads in all three games. Teams were racking up yards whike trailing. Bills don't have that killer instinct on defense. I'm not sure why.

Edited by Buffalo_Stampede

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15 minutes ago, dave mcbride said:

I think your take about the second half yesterday has been a little too simplistic. Here is my view: I felt like McDermott went into the game with a really good plan—do not give up longish passing tds by getting tricked by play-action. Basically, through the first rams’ series of the third quarter, the rams had their way running the ball, but that was by design. The Bills were not going to give in and bring their safeties up to stop the run. Hence when Goff did do play action, he was looking downfield and the plays weren’t there, particularly when the rams were on the bills’ side of the field. After starting 5 for 5 (with most of his completions occurring in their own end of the field), he went 5 for 12 with a pick, no tds, and a failed fourth down attempt. The Bills had the answers in the passing game, and basically the strategy of allowing them to run and maintaining focus on the intermediate to intermediate-long passing game completely bottled up the Rams in the sense that they couldn’t score.  
 

So it was a good plan, and normally it would have been enough to win the game. However, there was a problem: McVay is a really, really good offensive mind and a great playcaller. The Rams basically continued to run, which was fine, but they completely changed their approach to the passing game, relying primarily on very short throws off of play action where the Bills’ secondary was playing much deeper back in coverage. That led to a lot of chunk plays. The combination of the still-effective run game and the radically altered passing game approach (which negated their pass rush too) meant that the Bills D was screwed. Plus they were clearly tired. 
 

Finally, Jared Goff is a very good QB. He is really accurate, and he knows how to run that offense well. He is not the best QB in the league, but he is upper echelon. This league right now is built to support excellent QB play. 

Understood, but isn't that up to our supposed to be great defensive mind if a HC to adjust their game plan defensively when the other team alters theirs? 

 

This was exactly what happened againat Houston in the WC game. A bit concerning the lack of ability to make adjustments when the opposition does. 

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53 minutes ago, GunnerBill said:

 

While that is definitely normally the case. It has not been that way league wide in 2020. I don't have an explanation other than offensive holding has basically been legalised.

 

And that could be.  Someone mentioned, I (think it was @Simon) that Morse was getting away with holding all day.  

 

The NFL is always evolving, but rules changes over the past 10-15 years have significantly favored offense.  I'm not sure if that'll ever change and teams are taking advantage, hence the high-scoring to begin this season.   

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51 minutes ago, ScottLaw said:

Understood, but isn't that up to our supposed to be great defensive mind if a HC to adjust their game plan defensively when the other team alters theirs? 

 

This was exactly what happened againat Houston in the WC game. A bit concerning the lack of ability to make adjustments when the opposition does. 

It’s an offense-first league now and teams with good QBs simply can’t be held down for too long. Belichick is the only coach I know of that can maintain it, and even he can’t do it all of the time. Just look at SF in last year’s SB — a great defensive unit with a great plan, but a good offensive mind with a great QB eventually figured out what they could and couldn’t do, and then Mahomes and co. were basically unstoppable. Also, think about the chiefs/pats championship game in 2018. The pats D had smothered KC in the first half, but even BElichick couldn’t maintain it. KC’s offense exploded, and they should have won that game. This sort of thing happens all the time, and to repeat, the Rams have great offensIve gameplanning plus a very, very good QB. They aren’t the Jets or the Broncos.

 

The problem with the Houston game is that we couldn’t score. Holding Watson at home to 19 points in regulation should absolutely  have been enough to win. But as we all know, Allen didn’t play very well in the second half of that game.

Edited by dave mcbride

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1 hour ago, ganesh said:

I think we struggled against the run last year too.  If they don't fix the run game (both offense and defense) we will be in trouble.

And Shaq Lawson was stout against the run


forgot about Shaq- absolutely correct! 

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It is clear to me we miss Star and Lorenzo.  Add that Edmunds played hurt yesterday and was very marginal against the run, to often he filled a running lanetoo soon and was easily sealed off from the run.  After Tre, our corners are mediocre.  Our pass rush is not consistent.   
 

This defense can be good but they are far from great.  

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2 hours ago, GunnerBill said:

 

This is a really good point. There are a lot of offensive holds going uncalled. Now if the result is the football we have been seeing maybe the NFL wants it that way. But it is definitely a changed context.

 

 

Again, definitely a factor. You call defense differently when you are up three scores. And not ever offense is the Rams and can take full advantage.

 

That might have been our best "quality" home win of the McDermott era though. We haven't beaten anyone as good as that Rams team at home in the past 3 seasons. That Rams team is legit. They will win 9 or 10 minimum even in by far the toughest division in football.

 

I agree, I was more talking about the league as a whole though, with scoring being up

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1 hour ago, ScottLaw said:

McD was all smiles post game. I was a little surprised. 

There is always a time for the retrospective and that point of time was not the correct time for him to express his dissatisfaction.

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The Bills defense plays their system well generally with a lot of discipline but will struggle against good/great offenses.  They have a great safety tandem on the back end and Tre White at one corner.  But this defense is not elite.  If you were building a defense of players 5-deep at all 11 positions, outside of Poyer, Hyde, and White who would you select from this group?  I would hesitate to say anyone else on this defense is a top 5 player at their position.  Maybe Milano but who else would you say is in the top 5 in the league at their position?    

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I'd agree with the sentiment that our defense is not elite, but they do have the talent to be good.  Not Top 5, but no reason for them to not be Top 12ish.

 

Way too much invested to have such a pathetic start to the season.  I know we couldn't foresee Star opting out, but we threw money around at Addison, Butler and Jefferson.  Have big contracts in Murphy and Hughes, and invested high round draft picks in Oliver, Epenesa and Harry.  Another 1st round pick in Edmunds.  Second highest paid CB.  Talented Safety tandem.  

 

Thank goodness those DL contracts are all coming off the books in time for Josh Allen's payday.

 

 

Edited by SCBills

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11 hours ago, ScottLaw said:

Understood, but isn't that up to our supposed to be great defensive mind if a HC to adjust their game plan defensively when the other team alters theirs? 

 

This was exactly what happened againat Houston in the WC game. A bit concerning the lack of ability to make adjustments when the opposition does. 

You watching this game? The Ravens’ D is legit excellent. Seriously. Think about it.

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I think the fact that teams now realize they need to put up 30 points against us to stay in the game has a big affect to.  Opposing teams knew last year that 20 points could win the game.

 

This year, you just have to bring your A game on offense and they are testing our D a lot more because of it

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On 9/28/2020 at 10:03 AM, ScottLaw said:

Understood, but isn't that up to our supposed to be great defensive mind if a HC to adjust their game plan defensively when the other team alters theirs? 

 

This was exactly what happened againat Houston in the WC game. A bit concerning the lack of ability to make adjustments when the opposition does. 

 

Agreed, the ability to make adjustments by forecasting what the opponent is going to do is very Hoodie like and we need that.  Reacting is just that, after the fact.  

Defensively you do things to them to make them adjust, then change it up and keep them guessing.   

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18 hours ago, Virgil said:

I think the fact that teams now realize they need to put up 30 points against us to stay in the game has a big affect to.  Opposing teams knew last year that 20 points could win the game.

 

This year, you just have to bring your A game on offense and they are testing our D a lot more because of it


This is a very important factor IMO.  I got hammered here last season when I posted that while I believed that we had a very good defense, that it wasn’t being stressed like many due to teams employing more conservative game plans. That’s because our offense was not scoring a lot in most games and teams weren’t being as aggressive (with higher risk-reward plays) as they have to be against teams with higher scoring offenses.  The relatively easy schedule last season played into this. 
 

Now it sure looks like teams will have to open up their offenses because we are scoring a lot more.  Let’s hope the defense adapts well, but even if it does we can still expect higher variance in game to game performance.  That’s because sometimes that higher risk-reward goes one way and sometimes it goes the other.  Only so much to be done about that in a league so skewed towards the offense.

 

It goes beyond game planning too.  The better QBs know they have to take more risks in situations when their team is behind or when they know they need a lot of points to win.  The nerds actually track that and QBs like Brees and Brady follow the “point differential and time left” versus “riskiness of throw” curve beautifully.  It makes sense.  Take more and more chances the further behind you are and the later in the game it is.  Or be more and more conservative the further ahead you are and the later in the game it is.  So we should see some wilder games this season compared to last.  It should be fun and I’m excited. 

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In rewatching the Rams game, outside of obvious poor run defense, the Bills D wasn't as horrid as I thought.  After that faux INT the D was clearly gassed and started missing tackles.  

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