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Shaw66

ROCKPILE REVIEW - Win and Go Back to Work

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I was reminded last week of the reality of the Buffalo Bills in the early 1990s.  I tend to remember big plays, big scores, Hall of Fame performers, but that was only part of the reality.  There were plenty of losses in those years, and plenty of other games where the Bills gutted out close wins against mediocre competition. 

 

I was reminded of all those less-than-dominant performances as I thought about the losses to the Titans and the Chiefs, and I felt better about how the 2020 season is going.  The goals in the regular season are (1) make the playoffs, (2) win the division, and (3) get home field throughout the playoffs.  There are no style points.  Losses, of course, don’t help with any of those goals, but there always will be some losses.  Ugly wins against less talented opponents are wins, and nothing else. 

 

Yes, sure, if you can’t play well against the Jets, there are reasons to worry, but it’s one more win toward the goals.  The Bills are 5-2, and only the most elite of elite teams would be unhappy with five wins after seven games. 

 

The Bills are a work in progress and a work in process.  Sean McDermott is far from done building his 2020 Buffalo Bills.  They know a lot about how to pass.  They’re learning how to run.  They know about how to stop the pass, and they’re learning how to stop the run.  Whether they will learn enough as the season goes on is open question. 

 

The process is how they progress.  They play a game, they learn something new in practice.  They play another game, they learn something else new in practice.  It’s a process.  At the end of the season, they should know how to do a lot of things.  At least that’s the theory.

 

The Bills started the game ugly against the Jets.  So ugly that even when the Bills took over the game in the third quarter, it still looked ugly.  The only time it didn’t look ugly was when Allen took a knee to end the game, and after the game, when we looked at the stat sheet.

 

In fact, the Bills did a lot of things right against the Jets.  One thing was play defense.  When the Jets scored with three and half minutes left in the second quarter, it was the last time the Jets got close to scoring.  Actually, after that touchdown, the Jets gained 25 net yards through the rest of the game!   One more first-half possession and all of the second half, the Bills allowed 25 yards.  Sam Darnold, who looked like a world beater early, could do nothing about it.

 

The Jets dominated time of possession early in the game, but the Bills finished the game comfortably on top in TOP.  The Bills outgained the Jets 422 to 190, and they ran 72 plays to the Jets’ 51.  All this after a woeful start, with a missed field goal on the first possession and a lost fumble on the second. 

 

Everything has to be qualified by the fact that this is the Jets, but good football is good football.  The Jets came to play; Darnold wanted to beat his buddy, Frank Gore wanted to play well against his old team, the whole team was tired of losing and saw the Bills (with two straight losses and a long injury list) as the team they could beat.  The Bills said “no” to all of that. 

 

Poyer and Boettger and Hughes and Oliver and Beasley and Moss came to play, too.

 

If anyone expected a magical turnaround where the Bills put up 600 yards and 49 points while shutting out the Jets, they were dreaming. The Bills have serious shortcomings exposed during the past two weeks, and those shortcomings couldn’t be fixed in a short week of preparation for the Jets.  The Bills still couldn’t throw deep, they still couldn’t run the ball effectively.  They still were beaten by attacks on the edge.  Early in the game they had trouble getting off the field.  Tremaine Edmunds still got pushed around, and the Bills still were getting penalized big-time for unnecessary roughness.   

 

But the Bills showed progress.  They improved their possession passing game, going repeatedly to Beasley and Diggs and Kroft underneath.  Allen was in charge of an offense that effectively and repeatedly marched down the field – one fumble and eight field goal attempts.  They played ball control with their passing attack, just like the Chiefs do. 

 

The Chiefs, of course, also have a running game, and the Bills should study Chiefs’ game film, 49er game film, Ravens’ game film, and continue to add wrinkles to their own run game.  Moss and Singletary aren’t burners, and they need good creases to make their gains.  They can get those creases as the passing game continues to move the ball effectively and to challenge defenses deep.  It’s all a package, and the Bills are working on it.

 

The Bills couldn’t find the end zone, and their place kicking leaves everyone shaking their head.  Some things to work on.

 

The good news is that they have the right guy handling the ball.  Josh Allen had his usual collection of mistakes against the Jets, but he continues to dazzle nevertheless.  His most impressive talent - other than his arm - is his ability to manage the pocket.  He stands firm when unthreatened, and he moves and eludes tacklers while staying in the pocket. He handles the blitz reasonably well.  When he scrambles, he’s as dangerous as Mahomes.   He makes good decisions, most of the time.  He’s throwing the ball away when he should.  He’s been getting better for two and a half years now, and he will continue to get better.

 

Milano’s back, with luck Brown will be back next week.  Getting Norman back on the field will help.  Feliciano will help.  Learning and improving will be key.

 

The upcoming game is big.  6-2 at the halfway point would be an excellent first half.  More importantly, the Bills beating the Pats would be the symbol the league and football fans everywhere have been waiting for – someone to bury the Pats deep in the standings.  It won’t be easy.  Belichick doesn’t like losing, and he’ll do a better job game planning against the Bills than the Jets did. 

 

It’s a process.

 

 

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.

 

 

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Great write up Shaw.  Thanks 

 

The offense needs to figure out how to consistently make teams play for playing 2-3 DBs deep.  Between joshs legs and our talented playmakers, this should be easy work. Hopefully a Daboll is up to the test.  Once we need to unlock the deep ball again.  Was good to see it on back to back, almost TDs. Would like to see it more, but that won’t happen until we can make them pay consistently in the short game 

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1 minute ago, NewEra said:

Great write up Shaw.  Thanks 

 

The offense needs to figure out how to consistently make teams play for playing 2-3 DBs deep.  Between joshs legs and our talented playmakers, this should be easy work. Hopefully a Daboll is up to the test.  Once we need to unlock the deep ball again.  Was good to see it on back to back, almost TDs. Would like to see it more, but that won’t happen until we can make them pay consistently in the short game 

The problem is getting TDs in the red zone.   When they have a long field, the defense protects against the long ball, which is how Allen gets all those underneath completions.  Inside the red zone, that open space isn't there.  Film study, scheming, play design are needed.  

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8 minutes ago, Shaw66 said:

The problem is getting TDs in the red zone.   When they have a long field, the defense protects against the long ball, which is how Allen gets all those underneath completions.  Inside the red zone, that open space isn't there.  Film study, scheming, play design are needed.  

Great write up as usual and yep usually when your settling for FGs the other team hangs around and steals the victory...the Bills D actually started blitzing more in the second half and rattling Darnold was nice to see.  The O did just miss two TD's that would of been nice  but the turf monster go Kroft and then the picky illegal formation (add on some other silly penalties that really hamstrung the O on down there)  

 

 

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Excellent write-up as usual. Couldn’t agree more with most of your points.

On offense the passing game is doing fine and can be left alone for the most part except for game by game planning due to defensive tendencies of the opponent. The running game is where they need to evolve more like you said. A lot more tinkering can made here and for gosh sakes they need to stop abandoning the run so frequently. The line play is improving ever so gradually and hopefully adding Feleciano soon should be a big boost. From what I saw yesterday in that late game the Bills should be able to run the ball rather successfully against the Pats especially to the outside.

Defensively there were signs yesterday to have hope things are pointing up especially in the second half. They definitely need to bring extra pressure and blitz more. This should be effective against the Pats now that Brady isn’t back there to pick the secondary and linebackers apart when they do. Just can’t let Newton go running the ball too much. That rookie Dane Jackson seemed to show a lot of promise yesterday. He could be a diamond in the rough and hopefully a great find for a 7th rounder.

Like you said beat the Pats next week, hopefully decisively and go 6-2 in total control of the division, then go from there.

Go Bills!

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Nice write up Shaw, always good to see your level headed reviews.

 

I agree with just about everything you said.  I also would really like to see that run game cranked up.

 

Reading your opening paragraph - man that was just spot on.  Those years of 11-5, 12-4....they had some butt ugly losses and some by the skin of their teeth wins.  People, me included, then to forget that.  Every team goes through that each and every season.  

 

Go BILLS!  Beat the Hoodie!!!

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Thank you, Shaw, for being a voice of reason...and great post as per usual. 
 

I suspect, with Feliciano coming back, the run game will improve. He’s such a monster on the interior of that line. 
 

On to the Pats**** and, hopefully, 6-2!

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One other thing that I thought about off and on during the game was that Epenesa made some plays against the Jets.  He had three tackles, one for a loss, and half a sack.   HIs snap counts have been up and down all season, and that's really good production for being on the field for only 9 plays.   His snap count was low in part because the Jets ran so few plays.  

 

For rookies in general and especially for McDermott rookies, it's difficult to break into the lineup from day one.   I think it's a serious step up from college for most guys, even if they have the raw physical talent.  Players have to get used to the speed and strength of the guys they're playing against.   Also, if you play for McDermott, you have to play with real discipline.  You have to understand the defenses you're asked to execute and understand your role in each.  You have to learn to apply your talents to the tasks that McDermott needs you to execute.  Most guys need time to grow into playing in a demanding system like that.  

 

I'm encouraged that Epenesa has is fighting his way up the learning curve.  I expect we will start to see him on the field more as he learns his roles.  That would be one more player with talent on the field, and that should help the defense improve.  

 

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12 hours ago, Shaw66 said:

The upcoming game is big.  6-2 at the halfway point would be an excellent first half.  More importantly, the Bills beating the Pats would be the symbol the league and football fans everywhere have been waiting for – someone to bury the Pats deep in the standings.  It won’t be easy.  Belichick doesn’t like losing, and he’ll do a better job game planning against the Bills than the Jets did. 

 great write up, shaw.

 

this paragraph says it all for the fans that have been waiting nearly 20 years to happen, and I believe it will.

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I agree, that game was pretty ugly until it ended.  Also Edmunds has a lot of work to do.  And it wasnt only the rookie  Espenesa that played well. I thought Dane Jackson for a rookie CB played a great game.

 

As for No TDs, that one nice passes Allen threw that was called back for an "illegal formation was ticky tack borderline bogus.  Then he threw another TD pass they didnt give him  I think the Bills should have had a TD that drive for sure.  A TD there and that game then doesn't look or feel nearly as ugly as it did.

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18 minutes ago, RoyBatty is alive said:

I agree, that game was pretty ugly until it ended.  Also Edmunds has a lot of work to do.  And it wasnt only the rookie  Espenesa that played well. I thought Dane Jackson for a rookie CB played a great game.

 

As for No TDs, that one nice passes Allen threw that was called back for an "illegal formation was ticky tack borderline bogus.  Then he threw another TD pass they didnt give him  I think the Bills should have had a TD that drive for sure.  A TD there and that game then doesn't look or feel nearly as ugly as it did.

Right.  Good comment about Jackson.  

 

As for the TDs, the game felt like Allen had a good game and just didn't happen to get any TDs.  Maybe he failed to see an opportunity here or there, but QBs often have games where they miss one or two.  He sure didn't miss Davis.  

 

Another thing about the lack of TDs is that the score kind of dictated that the QB be conservative and avoid rookie mistakes.  Of course, you'd always rather have the TD than the FG, but think about this:   When the score was 10-9 and the Bills are driving, a veteran QB makes sure that he gets the go-ahead score.  A TD is nice, but getting lead is essential.  Then, when it's 12-9, a veteran QB doesn't risk losing the FG, because extending the lead with a field goal requires the opponent to get a TD.  (We all would have been screaming, for example, if Allen had taken a sack that knocked the Bills out of field goal range.   "ROOKIE MISTAKE!!!").   Then at 15-9, same thing - make sure you get the field goal to make it an 8-point game.   In every case, a TD would have been better, but if it isn't there, the smart QB settles for the FG. 

 

Plus, there were a collection of drive-killing penalties.  

 

I'm just not too concerned about the lack of TDs.

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9 minutes ago, Shaw66 said:

Right.  Good comment about Jackson.  

 

As for the TDs, the game felt like Allen had a good game and just didn't happen to get any TDs.  Maybe he failed to see an opportunity here or there, but QBs often have games where they miss one or two.  He sure didn't miss Davis.  

 

Another thing about the lack of TDs is that the score kind of dictated that the QB be conservative and avoid rookie mistakes.  Of course, you'd always rather have the TD than the FG, but think about this:   When the score was 10-9 and the Bills are driving, a veteran QB makes sure that he gets the go-ahead score.  A TD is nice, but getting lead is essential.  Then, when it's 12-9, a veteran QB doesn't risk losing the FG, because extending the lead with a field goal requires the opponent to get a TD.  (We all would have been screaming, for example, if Allen had taken a sack that knocked the Bills out of field goal range.   "ROOKIE MISTAKE!!!").   Then at 15-9, same thing - make sure you get the field goal to make it an 8-point game.   In every case, a TD would have been better, but if it isn't there, the smart QB settles for the FG. 

 

Plus, there were a collection of drive-killing penalties.  

 

I'm just not too concerned about the lack of TDs.

 

We really did have a lot of drive killing penalties.

 

I wonder if the Bills coaching staff   didnt respect the Jets, especially in that second half when Darnold was useless. You have agreat point, we didnt NEED to score TDs but yes it would have been nice.

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This is a very straight-forward and accurate view of the where the Bills are right now. I agree, a very nice write-up, Shaw!

 

After watching the Seahawks loss Sunday night, it became more clear that every team has a little "collapse" at times. The vaunted Seattle Seahawks had that in their 2nd half in Phoenix. Who really cares? They're still the class of the NFC. The mighty Chiefs has theirs against the Raiders. I imagine the Steelers will have theirs soon. They keys to a successful season is to get it turned around quickly and to scheme to take advantage of holes left when teams take away your strengths.

 

Sunday afternoon, Greggo followed the blueprint of the Titans and Chiefs and took away our downfield passing game. But Sunday, the Bills found success underneath with Beasley repeatedly and also has some modest success on the ground. I'm 100% certain that Belichick will do the same against the long pass. The Bills have to start with their underneath game and sprinkle in the runs early and often. BB will undoubtedly adjust to move the defense up to shut that down. Then, Josh will need to hit a few long balls. This is exactly how the Bills can continue to grow in their new identity. As this develops and matures, we will be able to compete with the most elite teams, and probably beat one or two.

 

Shaw, you are completely right. This is progress and the process.

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Thanks Shaw.

When I looked at yesterday's win, I actually thought of the Patriots dynasty. The sheer amount of "ugly" games they won. The amount of games lacking in style points. Heck, a bunch of those came against the Bills. How many times, during the years that we were awful, did we as Bills fans feel like Buffalo came THIS CLOSE to beating the Pats, but couldn't do it. From their point of view, I doubt they were bemoaning lack of style points against the woeful Bills.

From there, I think of the drought era Bills. How many times did I console myself after another Bills loss by thinking about the moral victories? The style points?

I don't believe in moral victories OR style points any more. I believe in wins and losses, and the Bills won yesterday. It's not that things can't be gleaned from such ugly wins, or that it's not fair to point out areas of needed improvement. It's just that each game, as McDermott says, is a unique entity unto itself, and there are only 16 of them per season. The Bills have won 5 of 7, and as Bill Parcells said, "You ARE what your record says you are".

Edited by Logic

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Regarding moral victories OR style points -  I believe in wins and losses except when Zebras take it away aka "Just give it to them".  Sometimes the Zebras are as stubborn as coaches and when they "know something" they will call it despite visual evidence.

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Nice job Shaw.

 

Tbh, to me, this was very much a 'just win baby!' game. Probably just as well, because it wasn't very pretty.

 

Having said that, there were enough things that I thought were positives, to think we might be getting somewhere, as regards getting some consistency back in the team.

 

Allen, after taking a couple of liberties that he got away with, in respect of trying to force the football into places where it shouldn't go, then got back to largely just taking what the Jest D was giving him.

 

The D got back to some semblance of 2019 form, largely due to being able to get the Jest in 3rd and long, and then stopping the long. It's their recipe for success, and they did a great job of executing it as the game went on. The last possession the Jest had, they didn't even remotely look capable of moving the football.

 

There's plenty still for everyone to work on, but to me, they look like they are getting the train back on track.

 

As regards individuals, on Offense, Moss might actually be starting to get to grips with the speed of the NFL. He showed up, and made the odd decent run, and the odd valuable reception. Kroft should be the #1 TE, no question. Big contributions yesterday, it was just unfortunate he was losing his balance when he caught the long pass from Allen. It would have been some fitting icing on what was an important week in his life. Beasley was terrific. There were signs of a possibly functioning screen game.

 

On Defense, Jackson the rookie, was impressive in his first start. Was around the ball a lot, and wasn't obviously in the frame for mistakes, or penalties, iirc. Sightings of Epenisa were welcome, and Hughes was a right royal pia for the Jest line, pretty much all game.

 

A last observation, about our kicker, Bass. If he hits all the FGs yesterday, the score ends up being a lot more reflective of how the game actually panned out eventually. I'm not too bothered about that. What I will quote, is the commentators after he nailed the 53 yard FG, where they stated it would have been good from 63 yards. This is why we have him, and this is why people need to be patient with him. He has the potential to win, or tie a game for us, from a long way back. While I'm sure McDermott would prefer if he hits everything I think he also doesn't want to rein that leg of his in, because it might make an important difference, somewhere down the line.

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i remember epenesa making one play where he lined up, the db behind him smacked his right hip, epenesa move to his right, and a sweep came right at him and he made a sure tackle for 0 yards.  makes me think maybe he can play, but he hasn't figured out the d yet.

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I love rational and realistic posts in this forum.  Thanks, Shaw.

I'm not bothered at all by the way we won yesterday.  Our defense made adjustments and played well in the second half of the game.  They played aggressively.  If that is the start of things to come...then we should all feel good.  As to the offense in the Red Zone...I think that's where we miss Brown the most.  How many times in games, do we see Brown, perhaps not scoring the TD, but tying up defenders with his movements in the end zone.  I also think getting Feliciano back will make a huge difference in the run game.  He brings an attitude.

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2 hours ago, clayboy54 said:

This is a very straight-forward and accurate view of the where the Bills are right now. I agree, a very nice write-up, Shaw!

 

After watching the Seahawks loss Sunday night, it became more clear that every team has a little "collapse" at times. The vaunted Seattle Seahawks had that in their 2nd half in Phoenix. Who really cares? They're still the class of the NFC. The mighty Chiefs has theirs against the Raiders. I imagine the Steelers will have theirs soon. They keys to a successful season is to get it turned around quickly and to scheme to take advantage of holes left when teams take away your strengths.

 

Sunday afternoon, Greggo followed the blueprint of the Titans and Chiefs and took away our downfield passing game. But Sunday, the Bills found success underneath with Beasley repeatedly and also has some modest success on the ground. I'm 100% certain that Belichick will do the same against the long pass. The Bills have to start with their underneath game and sprinkle in the runs early and often. BB will undoubtedly adjust to move the defense up to shut that down. Then, Josh will need to hit a few long balls. This is exactly how the Bills can continue to grow in their new identity. As this develops and matures, we will be able to compete with the most elite teams, and probably beat one or two.

 

Shaw, you are completely right. This is progress and the process.

The problem is will Daboll identify the defensive scheme change quick enough to take advantage of Bill's changes. I have no doubt he'll start out deep cover 2 zone like the last 3 games. It's going to be the redzone that determines the game this Sunday. 

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