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THE ROCKPILE REVIEW - They Are Who We Thought They Were


Shaw66
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M&T Stadium.  Baltimore Ravens.  Week four. 

 

The Bills were 2-1, coming off a devastating loss to the Dolphins, a loss that raised questions about whether the Bills have a problem winning close games.  They didn’t want to drop to 2-2, not so much that because they didn’t want to be a game behind the Dolphins in the AFC, but because they didn’t want to fall behind in the race for home field in the playoffs.  The practice week was far from ideal.  Without question, the recovery from the Dolphins game would be longer than normal, because players experienced a whole new level of exhaustion in the south Florida sunshine.  The Bills’ injury list was so long, it seemed simpler to ask which starters were available than to ask who was out.  The Ravens’ offense had been extraordinarily effective over the first three weeks of the season, and Lamar Jackson had been an absolute star. 

 

This was the test.  Challenged with adversity, this was the game for the Bills to prove to themselves that they are a team to be reckoned with.  

 

Well, that’s not exactly correct.  The Bills know who they are.  This was the game for the Bills to show the rest of us that they are a team to be reckoned with. 

 

In the first half, whatever it was that the Bills did during the week to recover from the Dolphins and get ready for the Ravens didn’t seem to have worked.  For the second week in a row, Josh had an early turnover that spotted the opponent seven points.  Singletary fumbled, receivers couldn’t hold onto Allen lasers in the wet weather, and the defense struggled.  The Ravens ran up 20 points and should have had more, while the Bills managed only a field goal while going three and out or worse on four drives. 

 

With less than three minutes left in the first half, the real Bills showed up.  The defense forced a three-and-out, and the offense put up seven.  20-10 at the half.  I said to my friend, “McDermott teaches his team to win the second half.  They prepare to win games like this.”

 

And so it was, after the worst of weeks, with injuries all over the lineup, after an ugly first half, the Buffalo Bills showed they are who we thought they were.   Lamar Jackson is spectacular, but Josh Allen was the championship quarterback in the second half.  Jackson made big plays, but Allen led his team on drives for a field goal and a touchdown to tie it.  Then John Harbaugh put the ball in Jackson's hands on fourth and goal from the two yard line, and Jackson flinched.  His ill-advised heave into the end zone was intercepted.  Starting from the 20, Allen took the Bills on a masterful 77-yard, four-minute field-goal drive.  Ordinarily, the drive would have taken less time and would have resulted in touchdown, but Allen took a knee on two plays so that the field goal would be the final play of the game.  Sean McDermott didn’t want to leave, say, 13 seconds for Jackson to play with. 

 

It was a classic gut check. 

 

A few observations on the game:

 

1.     Bills fans don’t have a monopoly on support for their team, but the lack of support for some teams amazes me.  Ravens fans have a playoff contender and a legitimate MVP candidate at quarterback.  This was an important early-season game that featured an equally legitimate MVP candidate.  Still, there were plenty of empty seats all around the upper deck at M&T.  Yes, it rained a little, but the weather wasn’t nearly bad enough to keep real fans away.  And the Ravens fans came alive on third down occasionally, but making noise for the defense obviously is not all that important to them.  There were a lot of Bills fans at the game, but we didn’t exactly take over the place, either.

 

2.    The rain wasn’t bad, but the field and the ball were wet all the time.  Both teams managed it pretty well, but at times the weather was a factor.

 

3.    James Cook is digging himself into a pretty deep hole.  He continues to fail to take advantage of the opportunities he gets, and those opportunities are becoming fewer and fewer.  Zero carries.  One target, one drop.

 

4.    Kahlil Shakir, on the other hand, has been waiting for his chance.  When McKenzie and Crowder went down, he made two big plays on two targets. 

 

5.    Kaiir Elam was solid.

 

6.    Damar Hamlin’s tackling stood out.  

 

7.    Fans who have been waiting for Tremaine Edmunds to make plays like a normal middle linebacker have been rewarded for their patience.  He’s hitting harder, tackling with authority, and blitzing more effectively.  His tackle on the Ravens’ first touchdown, which won’t show up in the stats, was textbook. 

 

8.    It was a great game to demonstrate why you’d rather be good at passing than at running.  First downs were even, total plays were nearly even, Bills had only a modest advantage in total yards.  Allen’s and Jackson’s running numbers were a wash. But the Bills outgained the Ravens in the air by 70, and the Ravens outgained the Bills on the ground by 35, and it was clear which offense was a threat.  Yes, the Ravens had some nice runs, but the Bills knew that with discipline they could limit the damage on the ground.  Even with Davis being a non-factor, with Diggs doubled most of the time, and with McKenzie and Crowder out, the Bills still had Allen, and with Allen a big play is always just a throw away. 

 

9.    The starting offensive line was back on the field, and Allen was the beneficiary.  For the first time in the past few weeks, he often was upright in the pocket, looking downfield.  The protection wasn’t perfect, but the difference was noticeable.

 

10. Unfortunately, the starting offensive line didn’t have the same impact on the run game, which continued to be anemic.  There were successful runs here and there, but it’s pretty clear that the Bills can’t depend on the run game in short yardage situations. 

 

Win every quarter of the season, and you’ll be happy.  First quarter, mission accomplished.  Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Green Bay, and the Jets make a pretty formidable second quarter.  But we know now, and their opponents know, that the Bills are a team to be reckoned with.

 

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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Hamlin's tackling was good but he also came downhill on a run play where he should have made a tackle in the backfield or at worst at the LOS but lost contain and allowed the RB to bounce outside for 15 yards and a first down...

 

Hopefully with more playing time he will get that cleaned up.

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6 minutes ago, Big Turk said:

Hamlin's tackling was good but he also came downhill on a run play where he should have made a tackle in the backfield or at worst at the LOS but lost contain and allowed the RB to bounce outside for 15 yards and a first down...

 

Hopefully with more playing time he will get that cleaned up.

Well, I didn't say he was star because, frankly, I didn't see everything he did.  He's inexperienced, and I expect he made several mistakes I didn't see.  All I know is that I was impressed by his tackling. 

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All I know, Josh Allen is the best QB in the league and not even close. He does it all. Lamar is great against crappy D's. We Tua'd him like every other QB1 we faced so far. We are so good, the league doesn't know to be scared yet.

 

Edited by BadboyBills
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Im really surprised the Ravens dont pack that house every week.

 

Im not as down on Cook as others.  He came in totally cold off the bench and dropped an over the shoulder pass in the pouring rain.  Yeah he does have to make the most of his opportunities but he doesnt get many.  He did make some plays in the pass game last week and he did make some runs in the Titans game the week before.  Its concerning a little because he is a second round pick and the third drafted RB in three years, but I'm not giving up on him yet.

 

Our run blocking is garbage and these backs, especially Singletary are better than they show because of it.  They need to end the Moss experiment though.  I have been banging that drum for two years now.  Yes he gets A good carry just about every game but he constantly puts us behind the sticks and wastes downs.  Its over.  Our line is crap but he isnt good enough.

 

Edmonds has been playing well all year.  Happy to see that.  He misses a few things each game but what player doesnt?

 

Was happy for Shakir today.  Made the catches when we needed him!

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2 minutes ago, Scott7975 said:

Im really surprised the Ravens dont pack that house every week.

 

Im not as down on Cook as others.  He came in totally cold off the bench and dropped an over the shoulder pass in the pouring rain.  Yeah he does have to make the most of his opportunities but he doesnt get many.  He did make some plays in the pass game last week and he did make some runs in the Titans game the week before.  Its concerning a little because he is a second round pick and the third drafted RB in three years, but I'm not giving up on him yet.

 

Our run blocking is garbage and these backs, especially Singletary are better than they show because of it.  They need to end the Moss experiment though.  I have been banging that drum for two years now.  Yes he gets A good carry just about every game but he constantly puts us behind the sticks and wastes downs.  Its over.  Our line is crap but he isnt good enough.

 

Edmonds has been playing well all year.  Happy to see that.  He misses a few things each game but what player doesnt?

 

Was happy for Shakir today.  Made the catches when we needed him!

I agree with all of this except Cook.  I mean, I'm not giving up on him, but a second round running back should be ready to play by week four, and that means ready whenever he gets put into the game.  He needed to be ready to catch the ball in wet weather, and it was a simple NFL catch.   He wasn't ready.  

 

Every play is important.  Shakir plays that way.  Cook needs to. 

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Also I wanted to say the Bills D is just absurd.

 

Still have not allowed a 300 total offense yard game or a 200 yard passing performance. Ravens had 296, the first game they allowed more than 220 yards.

 

To put that in perspective 26 teams AVERAGE allowing more than 300 yards of offense per game.

 

And they are doing it against good offenses. Ravens led the league in points, Miami was putting up lots of points and yards and Tennessee seems to be pretty decent except when they play us. And the SB Champ Rams.

 

Even with a bunch of players out on D it doesn't matter.

 

Edited by Big Turk
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Hard to see a game write up without a mention of Milano and Poyer. Milano literally was all over the place making tackles, including a number for loss and Poyer had tough contested INT's that were game changing. They need to figure out the O line run blocking scheme sooner rather than later. They pretty much only move on the ground when Josh has the rock in his hand. Certainly seems the wide zone run plays work consistently better than anything between the tackles. If I see Moss on any 1 yard to go down get a ball with an up the middle run play I'll throw up. Total waste of a play. Spread them out and run it there if you must but with everyone drawn in and in power formations it is hopeless. Might need to find a temporary replacement for Gabe Davis to let his ankle heal. He is a shell of what we've seen he can be. With Crowder hurting (and totally ineffective today) and McKenzie concussed, they are going to have to re-jigger the receivers if both are out for any length of time and Davis remains ineffective. With the mediocre running attack and Davis hurting it seems like they are playing with a hand tied behind their back on offense. It was, nonetheless, a great win on the road against a team that is quite good I think. Looking forward to getting Oliver & Phillips  back healthy. They are impact players. Tre might not be too far behind either. On to the Steelers. Be interesting to see if it's Trubisky or the rookie.

Edited by BubbaT
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2 minutes ago, BubbaT said:

Hard to see a game write up without a mention of Milano and Poyer. Milano literally was all over the place making tackles, including a number for loss and Poyer had tough contested INT's that were game changing. They need to figure out the O line run blocking scheme sooner rather than later. They pretty much only move on the ground when Josh has the rock in his hand. Certainly seems the wide zone run plays work consistently better than anything between the tackles. If I see Moss on any 1 yard to go down get a ball with an up the middle run play I'll throw up. Total waste of a play. Spread them out and run it there if you must but with everyone drawn in and in power formations it is hopeless. Might need to find a temporary replacement for Gabe Davis to let his ankle heal. He is a shell of what we've seen he can be. With Crowder hurting (and totally ineffective today) and McKenzie concussed, they are going to have to re-jigger the receivers if both are out for any length of time and Davis remains ineffective. With the mediocre running attack and Davis hurting it seems like they are playing with a hand tied behind their back on offense. It was, nonetheless, a great win on the road against a team that is quite good I think. Looking forward to getting Oliver & Phillips and back healthy. They are impact players. Tre might not be too far behind either. On to the Steelers. Be interesting to see if it's Trubisky or the rookie.

Good stuff.   I didn't mention Milano because, well, he does the same thing every week.  He's an amazing constant.  

 

I agree about tight formations about running.  The Bills should never line up in tight formations.  They run better out of plays that look to get wide, and they pass better, too.  

 

In general, the name of the game early in the season is to find a way to win while you're figuring out who you are.   So a lot of things you say are works in process.   We'll see how well they put it all together.  

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1 hour ago, Shaw66 said:

M&T Stadium.  Baltimore Ravens.  Week four. 

 

The Bills were 2-1, coming off a devastating loss to the Dolphins, a loss that raised questions about whether the Bills have a problem winning close games.  They didn’t want to drop to 2-2, not so much that because they didn’t want to be a game behind the Dolphins in the AFC, but because they didn’t want to fall behind in the race for home field in the playoffs.  The practice week was far from ideal.  Without question, the recovery from the Dolphins game would be longer than normal, because players experienced a whole new level of exhaustion in the south Florida sunshine.  The Bills’ injury list was so long, it seemed simpler to ask which starters were available than to ask who was out.  The Ravens’ offense had been extraordinarily effective over the first three weeks of the season, and Lamar Jackson had been an absolute star. 

 

This was the test.  Challenged with adversity, this was the game for the Bills to prove to themselves that they are a team to be reckoned with.  

 

Well, that’s not exactly correct.  The Bills know who they are.  This was the game for the Bills to show the rest of us that they are a team to be reckoned with. 

 

In the first half, whatever it was that the Bills did during the week to recover from the Dolphins and get ready for the Ravens didn’t seem to have worked.  For the second week in a row, Josh had an early turnover that spotted the opponent seven points.  Singletary fumbled, receivers couldn’t hold onto Allen lasers in the wet weather, and the defense struggled.  The Ravens ran up 20 points and should have had more, while the Bills managed only a field goal while going three and out or worse on four drives. 

 

With less than three minutes left in the first half, the real Bills showed up.  The defense forced a three-and-out, and the offense put up seven.  20-10 at the half.  I said to my friend, “McDermott teaches his team to win the second half.  They prepare to win games like this.”

 

And so it was, after the worst of weeks, with injuries all over the lineup, after an ugly first half, the Buffalo Bills showed they are who we thought they were.   Lamar Jackson is spectacular, but Josh Allen was the championship quarterback in the second half.  Jackson made big plays, but Allen led his team on drives for a field goal and a touchdown to tie it.  Then John Harbaugh put the ball in Jackson's hands on fourth and goal from the two yard line, and Jackson flinched.  His ill-advised heave into the end zone was intercepted.  Starting from the 20, Allen took the Bills on a masterful 77-yard, four-minute field-goal drive.  Ordinarily, the drive would have taken less time and would have resulted in touchdown, but Allen took a knee on two plays so that the field goal would be the final play of the game.  Sean McDermott didn’t want to leave, say, 13 seconds for Jackson to play with. 

 

It was a classic gut check. 

 

A few observations on the game:

 

1.     Bills fans don’t have a monopoly on support for their team, but the lack of support for some teams amazes me.  Ravens fans have a playoff contender and a legitimate MVP candidate at quarterback.  This was an important early-season game that featured an equally legitimate MVP candidate.  Still, there were plenty of empty seats all around the upper deck at M&T.  Yes, it rained a little, but the weather wasn’t nearly bad enough to keep real fans away.  And the Ravens fans came alive on third down occasionally, but making noise for the defense obviously is not all that important to them.  There were a lot of Bills fans at the game, but we didn’t exactly take over the place, either.

 

2.    The rain wasn’t bad, but the field and the ball were wet all the time.  Both teams managed it pretty well, but at times the weather was a factor.

 

3.    James Cook is digging himself into a pretty deep hole.  He continues to fail to take advantage of the opportunities he gets, and those opportunities are becoming fewer and fewer.  Zero carries.  One target, one drop.

 

4.    Kahlil Shakir, on the other hand, has been waiting for his chance.  When McKenzie and Crowder went down, he made two big plays on two targets. 

 

5.    Kaiir Elam was solid.

 

6.    Damar Hamlin’s tackling stood out.  

 

7.    Fans who have been waiting for Tremaine Edmunds to make plays like a normal middle linebacker have been rewarded for their patience.  He’s hitting harder, tackling with authority, and blitzing more effectively.  His tackle on the Ravens’ first touchdown, which won’t show up in the stats, was textbook. 

 

8.    It was a great game to demonstrate why you’d rather be good at passing than at running.  First downs were even, total plays were nearly even, Bills had only a modest advantage in total yards.  Allen’s and Jackson’s running numbers were a wash. But the Bills outgained the Ravens in the air by 70, and the Ravens outgained the Bills on the ground by 35, and it was clear which offense was a threat.  Yes, the Ravens had some nice runs, but the Bills knew that with discipline they could limit the damage on the ground.  Even with Davis being a non-factor, with Diggs doubled most of the time, and with McKenzie and Crowder out, the Bills still had Allen, and with Allen a big play is always just a throw away. 

 

9.    The starting offensive line was back on the field, and Allen was the beneficiary.  For the first time in the past few weeks, he often was upright in the pocket, looking downfield.  The protection wasn’t perfect, but the difference was noticeable.

 

10. Unfortunately, the starting offensive line didn’t have the same impact on the run game, which continued to be anemic.  There were successful runs here and there, but it’s pretty clear that the Bills can’t depend on the run game in short yardage situations. 

 

Win every quarter of the season, and you’ll be happy.  First quarter, mission accomplished.  Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Green Bay, and the Jets make a pretty formidable second quarter.  But we know now, and their opponents know, that the Bills are a team to be reckoned with.

 

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.

 

 

Not sure this is as good as a thing as you say it is. A tackle on a TD? 

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1 hour ago, Shaw66 said:

I said to my friend, “McDermott teaches his team to win the second half.  They prepare to win games like this.”

 

Here's an incredible statistic - through 4 games, all against very good offenses, the Bills have allowed a TOTAL of 7 points in the 2nd half. I didn't think that kind of defensive dominance was even possible in this era of football.

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1 hour ago, BubbaT said:

Hard to see a game write up without a mention of Milano and Poyer. 

 

Exactly. I would have given game balls to these two. Milano was a tackling monster, showing some great balance in maneuvering to make his tackles. Both of Poyer's INTs were really athletic. The first was backwards and over his head, the second one was just pure power and coordination.

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1 hour ago, Shaw66 said:

I agree with all of this except Cook.  I mean, I'm not giving up on him, but a second round running back should be ready to play by week four, and that means ready whenever he gets put into the game.  He needed to be ready to catch the ball in wet weather, and it was a simple NFL catch.   He wasn't ready.  

 

Every play is important.  Shakir plays that way.  Cook needs to. 

 

To be fair, Shakir has made mistakes too.  He whiffed on a big block that was needed for example.  Things happen.  I get your feelings though and I dont really argue against them.  You are right to feel that way.  I'm just not there yet.

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19 minutes ago, alanvh2o said:

Last year's gut check was Tampa. And while they responded; they lost. I am thinking they have learned that they can win close games. And confidence is built on repeated success.

 

 

I, too, wouldn't be surprised if this game is a catalyst of sorts (for the mid-season at least). I expect a few more losses here and there, but I love the fight.

 

Oh, and I don't know why but I'm not worried about Cook, for now. I feel like's he'll have a coming out game when given the opportunities. Wouldn't be surprised if he's on eggshells every snap he plays.

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33 minutes ago, HappyDays said:

 

Here's an incredible statistic - through 4 games, all against very good offenses, the Bills have allowed a TOTAL of 7 points in the 2nd half. I didn't think that kind of defensive dominance was even possible in this era of football.

 

Hopefully that trend continues against the Chiefs in two weeks.  I think they are the only offense that can legit keep up with ours when we are firing on all cylinders.

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6 minutes ago, NickelCity said:

Oh, and I don't know why but I'm not worried about Cook, for now. I feel like's he'll have a coming out game when given the opportunities. Wouldn't be surprised if he's on eggshells every snap he plays.

Agree. Game seems to overwhelm him a bit but tough to say. Rookie.

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Great write-up as always, thank you Shaw.  Kudos to the team for finally getting the W in a close, one score game.  I know it's been said often but McDermott and Frazier have been excellent at second half adjustments, and this team came out in the second half on a mission.  I mean they shut the Ravens out, big time.  In the 2nd half, Lamar Jackson had 36 yards passing and two ints.  The defense played some of the most disciplined, yet aggressive and swarming football I've seen so far this young season, and that's a seriously scary thing considering how many players we are still missing or are less than 100%!  

Praying Poyer is fine, the guy proves every time he's out on the football field he deserves to be paid.  He's a true difference maker.  

Coaching gets an A+ for that final drive, along with Allen knowing exactly where the first down marker was.  Clock management at its finest.

What a victory.  Home for Pittsburgh, where I fully expect us to make life hell on the rookie QB, have no mercy, and run the Steelers out of the stadium hopefully by halftime.

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The Bills' 4 opponents so far this year are a combined 9-6 (with Rams to possibly go to 3-1 on MNF). Excluding the games vs. the Bills that makes them 8-3. That is impressive and speaks to how difficult the beginning of the schedule has been for them. Add in that as Super Bowl favorites they have a huge target on their back and all the injuries and it is even more impressive.

 

The icing on the cake to me is listening to the leaders on the team. I watched the post game pressers for Allen, Miller and Diggs and I know it's just a press conference and they have definitely studied the McDermott and Crash Davis playbook on how to deal with the press, but their leadership and maturity is clearly evident. 

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3 hours ago, Shaw66 said:

I agree with all of this except Cook.  I mean, I'm not giving up on him, but a second round running back should be ready to play by week four, and that means ready whenever he gets put into the game.  He needed to be ready to catch the ball in wet weather, and it was a simple NFL catch.   He wasn't ready.  

 

Every play is important.  Shakir plays that way.  Cook needs to. 

I think this is more an issue of the Bills coaching staff than Cook.  I think the coaching staff want to have a short-yardage back and hence keep adding Moss to the game day roster and force fed him with the ball.  Instead, I think the Bills should take a gamble and get Cook involved as a. WR / RB in every play.  The threat of that kind of speed always will force Defenses to account for him.    As the commentators were repeatedly saying...the bills Running game is the short pass to the RBs...either in the flat or a screen or just a dump off....Bring on James Cook.... Speed kills in the NFL.

 

PS: I think James may have a bigger role in next Sunday's home game against the Steelers if Crowder and McKenzie are limited. 

53 minutes ago, jwhit34 said:

The Bills' 4 opponents so far this year are a combined 9-6 (with Rams to possibly go to 3-1 on MNF). Excluding the games vs. the Bills that makes them 8-3. That is impressive and speaks to how difficult the beginning of the schedule has been for them. Add in that as Super Bowl favorites they have a huge target on their back and all the injuries and it is even more impressive.

 

The icing on the cake to me is listening to the leaders on the team. I watched the post game pressers for Allen, Miller and Diggs and I know it's just a press conference and they have definitely studied the McDermott and Crash Davis playbook on how to deal with the press, but their leadership and maturity is clearly evident. 

In June/July, people were going to be happy if the Bills were 3-4 heading into the bye....due to the brutal start to the season for both playing tough opponents as well playing more on the road.     A 3-1 record with 2 wins coming on the road should be considered fantastic by the Bills Mafia

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