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THE ROCKPILE REVIEW - Signs of Life


Shaw66

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The Bills beat the Jets in Orchard Park on Sunday afternoon, 32-6.  A win is a win, but beyond that, ascribing some greater meaning to this game is difficult. 

 

Has the offense turned a corner under new offensive coordinator Joe Brady?  Hard to say. 

 

Do the fans love Sean McDermott again?  Ask after the Bills play the Eagles and the Chiefs. 

 

Will the injuries stop, or will the Bills simply run out of players on the defensive side of the line?  Pick ‘em. 

 

Is there something wrong with Stefon Diggs?  No.

 

Was the emotion we saw on the field a one-game thing, or have the Bills rediscovered the competitive edge that’s been missing?   Tune in next week.

 

Did the Bills dominate, or are they just an ordinary team that will win by a big score when the opponent turns the ball over four times?   To me, it looked like the latter. 

 

Were the Bills good, or are the Jets just bad?  Yes. 

 

Here are a few reactions to the game:

 

1.     I’m really getting to like James Cook, now that he has remembered to hold on to the football.  I always marveled at LeVeon Bell’s ability to wait, to wait and look, and then attack the opening that develops. Increasingly, Cook is running that way.  When it’s time to go, Cook accelerates like a Tesla – instant burst.  We’re seeing some real football intelligence from him.

 

2.    Gotta give the offensive line credit, both for creating the opportunities for the running backs and for keeping Allen upright in the pocket against a defensive front that has been tough for a couple of seasons. 

 

3.    The Bills were showing a lot of emotion on the field.  Actually, I prefer it when their actions speak louder than their words.  Dotson should not be showing off every time he makes a tackle, especially because he misses, too.   The question for the Bills is whether they’ve begun to raise the intensity of their play for the stretch run, or was the emotion a one-time explosion following weeks of frustration and then the Dorsey firing?

 

4.    Joe Brady had to be happy with his debut, but there’s plenty left to work on.  Getting three field goals on the first three possessions was nice but not enough.  The Bills still didn’t display a truly diverse offense – they sort of traded Diggs and Davis for Kincaid, Shakir, and Cook.  The offense Brady is hoping to see is one where they all show up on the stat sheet. 

 

5.    Josh Allen looked comfortable with what he was doing.  He saw the opportunities and took them.   I’ve said in recent weeks that the team doesn’t need his special talents on every play – most of the time Allen needs to manage the offense, make the throws, keep things moving.  His special talents are needed on only a half-dozen plays or so.   Like on Shakir’s touchdown – Allen was looking left, maybe knowing all along that he was coming back to Kahlil, maybe not.  Then he looked right, found his man and without ever really resetting his feet, fired a 30-yard rocket for the completion.  Allen is one of the few QBs in this or any era whose body can make the plays that his mind can see. 

 

6.    Josh ran, too.  He didn’t have one of those big, dazzling runs where he’s free in open space, but that isn’t the point.  The point is that he has to be on the move just enough to make the threat of his running one more thing in the minds of the defenders.  The Bills’ offense should be a load for any defense, just with Diggs, Davis, Shakir, Kincaid, and Cook (plus an occasional dose of Harty and Knox) – images of #17 blowing downfield is the special sauce. 

 

7.    Just an observation:  After all the years, all the decades, of watching the Bills, it’s quite amazing to have a quarterback who, on his own, makes the offense very good with the potential to be great.  Kelly needed his skill players, Ferguson was special, Kemp was a field general; none of them on their own made the offense. 

 

8.    The injuries on the defense have to stop.  They can’t afford to keep losing players like Johnson, Douglas, Rapp, and Jackson. There’s no hope if the Bills are putting new players on the field every week.  Good to have Benford back.  The young linebackers are getting a lot of experience – critical for the stretch run.   Shaq and Oliver and Floyd are showing up. 

 

9.    Lest we forget, McDermott gets defense.  He’ll get the most out of the talent that’s available. It’s actually pretty impressive to see how well the defense has continued to play through the dual adversity of the injuries and the offense being MIA. 

 

10. The key to the defense, however, is having Hyde and Poyer healthy and on the field.   Every part of the pass defense works better when they’re out there directing traffic.  Their health from here out is critical, especially with Rapp down.  And looming in the not-so-distant future, they will become big holes in the lineup.

 

I tend to look four stats when I want to know how my team is doing:  Yards per game, points per game, offense and defense.  For the past few seasons, Bills fans have gotten used to the Bills being comfortably in the top five, sometimes top three, of all four categories.  This season, the Bills are essentially top ten, except that they are 4th in points allowed per game.  That says that they are a very good team, but not at the top of the league. 

 

The defense, with the injuries, is good and very stingy.  The offense is showing signs of being very good or even scary good.  A big run actually is possible.   

 

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 every-day 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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I think that the thing that encouraged me most was the ease with which the Bills moved the ball against the Jets defense.

As you say, they didn't come away with enough touchdowns early on. However, even moving the ball into field goal range repeatedly instead of having herky-jerky three-and-outs represents a marked improvement not only over recent weeks, but over the past several outings against the Jets, too. Even when the Bills offense has been firing on all cylinders in past meetings, they have usually been stymied by the Jets defense. So THIS particular performance against THIS particular opponent was encouraging to me.

I read that it's the most points the Jets have given up in two years. That's impressive. Their defense is mostly healthy and was playing for its playoff life. Further, Josh Allen had 3 touchdowns and only one (forgivable, understandable, meaningless) turnover. THAT marks a huge improvement over his usual performances against the Jets, too.

I listed the specifics of what I liked on offense in the post-game thread today: logical game planning to attack the Jets' few defensive weaknesses, getting the running backs involved in the passing game, targeting the middle of the field, being less predictable, getting plays into the huddle quickly so the offense got to the line with lots of time on the clock, and involving youngsters like Cook, Kincaid, Shakir, and even Ty Johnson. There was also the intangible thing of the Bills having fun and Josh Allen looking like the excitable Josh Allen of old. Like you say, time will tell whether that newfound energy is here to stay.

Most of all, I came away thinking: this is the first time in a while that I was bored the whole 4th quarter, because the Bills clearly had the game well in hand. This is the first time in a while that I spent the last 10 minutes of the game clock watching Kyle Allen take snaps, rather than Josh Allen try to rally the Bills from behind. THAT felt like a huge improvement and a sigh of relief.

Good game against a mediocre opponent but a great defense. Now the toughest of all possible challenges: Facing last year's Super Bowl participants on the road, first in hostile Philly, then in loud Arrowhead. No small feat. 

Great first outing for Brady though, I thought. Baby steps in some areas, giant leaps in others. Let's keep it rolling.

Edited by Logic
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Thanks for this.

 

I saw your comments in the other thread, and I found them very interesting.  I think we saw the same things, but reacted to them differently.  From my point of view, a lot of what I saw yesterday were positive changes, so we agree there.  I'm not ready to ascribe it to evidence of actual change, because it's still only one game.  If the offense can have something like that kind of effectiveness moving the ball against the Eagles, then I'll say what we saw yesterday was something more any given Sunday.  

 

The sight Kyle Allen taking over in the 4th quarter?  So true.  That's something we used to see, pre-Dorsey, from Barkley or Trubisky.  If the Bills offense truly turned a corner on Sunday, then the Bills search for an offensive coordinator already ended.  

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2 minutes ago, Shaw66 said:

Thanks for this.

 

I saw your comments in the other thread, and I found them very interesting.  I think we saw the same things, but reacted to them differently.  From my point of view, a lot of what I saw yesterday were positive changes, so we agree there.  I'm not ready to ascribe it to evidence of actual change, because it's still only one game.  If the offense can have something like that kind of effectiveness moving the ball against the Eagles, then I'll say what we saw yesterday was something more any given Sunday.  

 

The sight Kyle Allen taking over in the 4th quarter?  So true.  That's something we used to see, pre-Dorsey, from Barkley or Trubisky.  If the Bills offense truly turned a corner on Sunday, then the Bills search for an offensive coordinator already ended.  

That's definitely fair, I think it was a very good performance from the offense yesterday doing that against what is essentially one of the best defenses in the NFL with an interim OC after a week, that's great. Still Dorsey had great games too. Need to see consistency on offense week to week, and other opponents won't have as big a weakness on offense as the Jets.

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14 minutes ago, Shaw66 said:

The sight Kyle Allen taking over in the 4th quarter?  So true.  That's something we used to see, pre-Dorsey, from Barkley or Trubisky.  


Didn’t we see this like three games in a row earlier this season?

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Nice writeup as always, Shaw. 

 

To this point:

 

54 minutes ago, Shaw66 said:

Did the Bills dominate, or are they just an ordinary team that will win by a big score when the opponent turns the ball over four times?   To me, it looked like the latter.

 

I'm not going to say the Bills dominated, I'm not going to say the Bills didn't dominate.

 

But, it's a fact that the score was 32-6, and that 10 of those points came off turnovers.

 

Is that "only 10 of those 32 points came off turnovers, so they still would have won by 16 points", or is that "and 10 of those 32 points came off turnovers, it would have been only a 16 point win"?

 

Potayto, Potahtoe?

 

The Bills sustained 4 drives of more than 4 minutes and 4 drives of 8 or more plays (not the same drives), which some would take as a sign of offensive dominance. 

 

On the other hand, 4 drives ended with a FG, including a drive from the Jets 21 and the Buff 46, which is typically not so dominant.

 

Tomayto, Tomahtoe?
 

13 minutes ago, BRH said:

Didn’t we see this like three games in a row earlier this season?

 

Yes

Edited by Beck Water
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Crazy part is even with all the injuries on D the Bills are allowing less points(17.3 to 17.9) and yards(314 to 317) per game than last year and are 4th in scoring defense in the NFL.  Also 1 of only 2 teams to not allow 30 points this year(KC is the other).  

 

Getting far better pass rush production in terms of pressures and sacks as well...over 10%

 

McDermott really has kept this unit together and mostly performing very well in comparison to the rest of the NFL.

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I agree on the "ordinary team" part - but in games like yesterday, I see the elements of a great team that is capable of a title.  We just seem to have a tough time bringing all of those elements together in a coherent fashion consistently.  

 

We kind of have it all - the great QB, the great WR, a good running game & O-line, a rookie sensation TE, an excellent pass rush, a solid secondary, good LB's.  For some reason, it hasn't been enough for us, at least this season.  We're in the same boat as other teams who I don't see as being nearly as talented.

 

Great write-up.

 

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9 minutes ago, Beck Water said:

 

Nice writeup as always, Shaw. 

 

To this point:

 

 

I'm not going to say the Bills dominated, I'm not going to say the Bills didn't dominate.

 

But, it's a fact that the score was 32-6, and that 10 of those points came off turnovers.

 

Is that "only 10 of those 32 points came off turnovers, so they still would have won by 16 points", or is that "and 10 of those 32 points came off turnovers, it would have been only a 16 point win"?

 

Potayto, Potahtoe?

 

The Bills sustained 4 drives of more than 4 minutes and 4 drives of 8 or more plays (not the same drives), which some would take as a sign of offensive dominance. 

 

On the other hand, 4 drives ended with a FG, including a drive from the Jets 21 and the Buff 46, which is typically not so dominant.

 

Yes, you're correct, all of that seemed nice, but even you point out the reasons why it may not have been as good as it seemed.  And, maybe only two turnovers result directly in points, but the other two affect field position, which is of great value when playing a team that has trouble moving the ball.  

 

I mean, I get.  Maybe they actually were good yesterday.   I saw a lot I liked.  And NFL games don't go according to script, ever, so they're going to be messy in part, almost all the time.  

 

What I'm saying is:  The Bills have looked like a mediocre team for a month.  When you look like a mediocre team for that long, there's a good chance your team is - yes, a mediocre team.    It happens almost every week in the NFL:  a mediocre team has a good game.  When it happens to most other teams, I don't jump to the conclusion that the team is actually good - it may just have been a mediocre team having a good day.  This week, it happened to the Bills, and I'm not prepared to jump to the conclusion are a good team.   

 

We thought the Bills were a good team coming into the season, but they did enough to convince a lot of people they aren't so good.  People were so convinced as to declare that McDermott must go.  One game shouldn't convince any of us that the team we thought we had in September actually just reappeared.  

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1 hour ago, Shaw66 said:

Do the fans love Sean McDermott again?  Ask after the Bills play the Eagles and the Chiefs. 


If we win the next two, you'll need an industrial size lead anvil to bring us down from the clouds!

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1 hour ago, Shaw66 said:

The Bills beat the Jets in Orchard Park on Sunday afternoon, 32-6.  A win is a win, but beyond that, ascribing some greater meaning to this game is difficult. 

 

.... 

 

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 every-day 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 would be interested in your insight on special teams which you did not address.

 

I am always glad to see players like Big Red get reps on offense and defense for they may be needed later in year but Tyler Matakevich spoiled it after making a number of good plays in a row by getting injured but hopefully not seriously.  Bills linebacker Tyler Matakevich was looked at by trainers with 2:36 remaining in the fourth quarter, but was able to leave the field on his own.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Limeaid said:

 

I would be interested in your insight on special teams which you did not address.

 

I guess I'm like a lot of guys - I only notice the special teams when they screw up.  In that sense, it was a more or less total turn around from a week before.  

 

Obviously, Gilliam was enjoying the opportunity to make a contribution.  The kickoff coverage was energized all game long so, yeah, I guess they woke up.

 

Harty is a great addition as the punt returner.   I love his share hands, and I really don't ask for anything more than that.  But he's one of those guys with the knack - he knows when to take the return, and he generates serious returns - 10+ yards - when he does.   So I like that.  

 

 

 

Hindsight is 20-20, but seeing the Bills yesterday made me wish they'd pulled the plug on Dorsey a week earlier.  Broncos game definitely should have been a W.  

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Teams are paying more attention to defending against Josh Allen runs.  That doesn't mean he should stop, just that he needs to make the right reads when he considers running, and maybe be a bit more selective.  Having at least the possibility of a Josh Allen run forces the defense to account for it, and that can cause other plays to be available.

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3 hours ago, Shaw66 said:

Did the Bills dominate, or are they just an ordinary team that will win by a big score when the opponent turns the ball over four times?   To me, it looked like the latter. 

 

Sorry, I don't agree.  The Bills dominated that team.  We owned both lines of scrimmage. Getting turnovers is part of dominating.  Our offense took their foot off the gas for an entire quarter because we could.  We could have scored more points if needed but they weren't. No team scored more points against the Jets this year.  Not sure about last year.  They held Philly to 10 points and beat them even.  The Jets lost their minds and started fighting.  Not only on the field but also in the tunnel on their way out.  Thats a sign of domination.  That team was embarrassed.

 

I also don't agree with a couple other things but no big deal.

 

Is it a one week thing?  We shall see, but you can't tell me we didn't just completely own the Jets.

Edited by Scott7975
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Scott -

 

Thanks for this.  

 

I agree, they did dominate the Jets.  That was Logic's point about seeing Kyle Allen, and I agree about that.  

 

But my point was more about what it means for the future.  

 

As I said, one good game doesn't make a mediocre team a good team, and for more than a month the Bills have been mediocre.  

Edited by Shaw66
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1 hour ago, Shaw66 said:

Scott -

 

Thanks for this.  

 

I agree, they did dominate the Jets.  That was Logic's point about seeing Kyle Allen, and I agree about that.  

 

But my point was more about what it means for the future.  

 

As I said, one good game doesn't make a mediocre team a good team, and for more than a month the Bills have been mediocre.  

 

Ok, I agree with you there.  Hopefully this continues.

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29 minutes ago, Scott7975 said:

 

Ok, I agree with you there.  Hopefully this continues.

And one other way to look at it.  I've been saying it for a week now.  Josh Allen is just so incredibly good, that his offensive team should be a top-5 or top-3 team every year.  Dorsey was failing to meet that threshold.   Yesterday, the offense wasn't top-5, but it was better than it's been.  We've seen what it looks like when the offense really is humming, and yesterday wasn't it, not yet.   Now, Brady has a full week to prepare, without all the emotion about the change.   Let's see if he can take the next step.  

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