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Bills chasm between Regular Season Success and Playoff Failure-Are there Football Strategy Problems?


Chaos

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40 minutes ago, BarleyNY said:

Two big differences between regular season and playoff games are coaching and management of pressure.

 

1) The best coaches plan for the playoffs. They save plays and wrinkles in their schemes to take advantage of other teams’ weaknesses. One example from the last Chiefs-Bills playoff game. Reid put 10 men on the field for the Bills punt that got faked. He knew from it happening previously in the regular season that the Bills had the fake baked into their system and were likely to run it if they faced 10 or less men. They knew exactly what was coming and got a huge turnover on downs. It is very unlikely that KC wins that game without that play. 

 

2) Pressure increases throughout the playoffs, ramping up each and every round and in close games. Coaches have to instill confidence in their players that they are up to the task and putting them in the best position to succeed. We’ve certainly seen pressure get to this coaching staff (13 sec) and team (2022 playoffs). The expectations have to be that the coaches and players will prevail, not that someone will find a way to lose. Problems here manifest themselves as blunders, unnecessary risks lack of focus. Hero ball and overly aggressive play calling are examples. 

I agree in general, but regarding the fake punt, didn't the Chiefs fumble through the end zone on the ensuing possession?

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1 hour ago, MJS said:

More regular season success than virtually every team EXCEPT Kansas City... And they are the ones that keep knocking the Bills out of the playoffs.

 

It's as simple as that. We are in the middle of a Chiefs dynasty and the Bills are really good, but not quite as good as them.

 

But they are close. The games are always close. They've shown they can hang with them. So, keep trying and one of these years they will.

Bingo. 

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The difference is this; the Bills defense is an opportunistic bunch and that’s great, WHEN teams screw up, but they don’t FORCE screw ups because they have missed in virtually every single effort to make the DL anything beyond ordinary.  Ed Oliver is good, but there’s 3 other guys drafted the same year that are elite and one of them keeps wrecking  our *****.   That’s the only guy on the DL worth mentioning.   McClappy wants to rotate 8 mediocre guys to keep them fresh, which would be fine if any of them were above average when they are fresh, but they aren’t. They have to rely on people messing up, works over the course of the season, usually over the course of the game, but in crunch time, the greats come through and we go home. 

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I don't think there's a huge chasm.  KC was better the year they beat Buffalo in the AFC Championship.  Cincinnati was better last season, we had no answers.

The other two KC losses were very close...some clutch plays by them and good luck, some unclutch plays by us and some bad luck.

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4 minutes ago, philholbroo said:

You have to play to win during playoff vs just surviving in regular season. This seems to be a philosophy that holds them back.

McDermott has been playing increasingly aggressive in the playoffs.  There is more luck than people think.  Close games are decided by a call here or a bounce there. You don’t play 7 game series in football. Best approach is have a competitive team every year, don’t dig a big salary cap hole and eventually luck will go your way.  My biggest concern is the salary cap and the win now move that have failed like Von Miller. 

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The finale this season was the most heart burning. The Chiefs just played perfectly and overcame bad breaks, while the Bills did not take advantage of the breaks they got — fumble touchback/last drive.
 

Stragtically, the Bills need to call a cleaner offensive game. Too many wasted plays behind the line of scrimmage — screens and rushes for lost yardage. I know we’re not supposed to call out players and coaches, but all those plays are someone’s responsibility, and for some reason a lot of members here think this guy is head coach material right now 🤭

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Imo, it is a matter of timely aggression, and not giving up the five yard passes that lead to YAC first downs, especially in crunch time. So yes a different version of our defensive strategy is in order during the playoffs.  As to offense, the mix of take what they give you, the run game, and pushing the passing down field needs a better plan and application, I’m talking fine tuning adjustments, not wholesale changes, again jmo. 

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2022 and 2024 will be remembered as “we had them and let them off the hook”.

 

Game plans and general play of the players was good enough…until the very end when they choked two winnable games away.

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40 minutes ago, Bermuda Triangle said:

I agree in general, but regarding the fake punt, didn't the Chiefs fumble through the end zone on the ensuing possession?

Yep. It was a silly call by McD to be sure, but led to only a little time off the clock and the Bills ultimately getting the ball at the 20. Not really a factor in the game, as there was plenty of time left for the Bills offense at the end. They just failed to execute drives/ score a couple times in the game and that was the difference. 

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I'd break up the difference between the Chiefs and Bills into 2 subsets:

 

Roster.........the difference is that the Chiefs have a true game changer(Chris Jones) on defense and the Bills do not.   Von Miller might have finally been that guy in 2022.   They need a WR2 to do it the right way.........but if they are willing to use Allen like a battering ram they could have reached a SB without that this year.   

 

Leadership.......Yes Reid and his staff are better than McDermott and his........but even more importantly,IMO is that Josh Allen is significantly behind Patrick Mahomes in terms of knowing what it takes to win and prioritizing winning over everything else.   Mahomes has gotten there.   Josh has not.

 

Josh f#cked off last offseason......came out the gate with a dreadful performance in NY and did his part with sloppy mechanics and decision making to get his OC fired on their way to a 6-6 start.    He booted and rallied under Brady from there on out running the ball 10 times per game to get them within a couple minutes of beating the Chiefs in the playoffs.   But on that 2nd and 9 play Mahomes takes the short throw to Diggs..........Allen instead took the glory shot to Shakir and failed.   This is the biggest difference between these 2 players now and it's enough to decide their playoff games.    

 

The Bills would be nowhere without Allen but they are also hamstrung some by where he is at as a leader/winner.   Allen is close enough to get there in one offseason........but he has to level up.   He needs to get back in the lab(as he says) like it's 2020 again and the Bills need to roster-prioritize making him look good like that again even when he is being asked to stay in the pocket for 3/4 of the regular season.   Hopefully Beane can re-tool the roster enough to not take a step back and these teams can meet again but that's not a given.

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38 minutes ago, BADOLBILZ said:


  Mahomes has gotten there.   Josh has not.

 

Josh f#cked off last offseason......came out the gate with a dreadful performance in NY and did his part with sloppy mechanics and decision making to get his OC fired on their way to a 6-6 start.    He booted and rallied under Brady from there on out running the ball 10 times per game to get them within a couple minutes of beating the Chiefs in the playoffs.   But on that 2nd and 9 play Mahomes takes the short throw to Diggs..........Allen instead took the glory shot to Shakir and failed.   This is the biggest difference between these 2 players now and it's enough to decide their playoff games.    

 

The Bills would be nowhere without Allen but they are also hamstrung some by where he is at as a leader/winner.   Allen is close enough to get there in one offseason........but he has to level up.   He needs to get back in the lab(as he says) like it's 2020 again and the Bills need to roster-prioritize making him look good like that again even when he is being asked to stay in the pocket for 3/4 of the regular season.   Hopefully Beane can re-tool the roster enough to not take a step back and these teams can meet again but that's not a given.

Prepare to get destroyed here lol....JA is above criticism here. I'd logg off for a month😀

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2 hours ago, MJS said:

How are we as good as them talent wise? They have a lot of really good, young players on defense. They've knocked it out of the park in the draft the last couple of years. They have three superstars (Mahomes, Kelce, Jones). The Bills have only one (Allen), because Diggs isn't even performing like a good #1 anymore, much less like a superstar.

 

I don't think the Bills are too far behind them, but the Chiefs are better. I think the Chiefs do have more talent, especially high end talent, and they have an excellent coaching staff as well.

 

I don't think it is hopeless. I think the Bills can beat them. They've shown they can. But the Chiefs have the upper hand.

This response is as close to the correct answer as your going to get. Alot of things factor in to going to a SB and winning one. Minimizing injuries is at the top of the list. We lost Tre, Von and Milano in consecutive years. Not to mention several additional supplemental players. The 2nd most important factor is luck. All it takes is one or two plays to go your way to make a difference.  The 3rd is a combination of talent and strategic coaching.  We had the talent to play in 4 straight SB's but Marv definitely got out coached by more elite guys. The exact same thing is now happening with McDermott.

 

We ask so very much from Josh and he leaves his heart on the field every time, but he needs the "collective support" from his teammates and coaches. They can't expect 17 to just fly around like Superman while everyone else watches.  Our team was good enough to beat the Rams, Eagles and Niners these last 3 years. But the greatest hurdle will always be Mahomes followed by Burrow. 

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5 minutes ago, DrBob806 said:

Prepare to get destroyed here lol....JA is above criticism here. I'd logg off for a month😀

 

Josh is a tremendous QB and the most fun player in the league to watch, IMO.    He got ever-so-close to Mahomes level for that brief moment in the 13 seconds game.   But Allen went into the offseason thinking he'd made it because he left the field winning against Mahomes and the defending champs.

 

But as it turns out,  that wasn't actually a great version of Mahomes or the Chiefs.   They choked and he played careless, gunslinging football in defeat to Cinci the following week.  Mahomes went into that offseason knowing that he needed to change and be a better situational QB/leader.

 

That's where he regained his separation on JA.

 

We hate Mahomes but the guy has had his professional priorities and personal life more in order than JA.    

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6 hours ago, Chaos said:

I am hopeful this thread avoids discussions of specific coaching or players.  

Here are some facts that are not in dispute:
 

  1. The Bills have had more regular season success than virtually any other NFL team in the last 5 years.
  2. The Bills have not translated the regular season succes into deep playoff runs

 

Here is a commonly held opinions:

  1. Playoff football is different than regular season football.  (I am personally on the fence on whether or not this is true)

 

For purposes of this thread discussion I would like to stipulate that Playoff Football IS different than regular season football.  Here is the question:

 

Are their any significant football strategic changes that could be made, that would result in playing better "Playoff Football"? If so what are those changes?
 

Alternatively, its fine to respond "flawed premise, the gap between playoff success and regular season success is because the Bills are less talented, or unluckier than the teams that win the Super Bowl"

 

 

This is all strictly my opinion, but I think there unquestionably are strategy changes necessary for the team to be as successful in the playoffs as they have been in the regular season.   Absolutely.

 

I think winning at this level is all about how the team functions, and very little about the talent.  Look at today's game.  49ers on offense are better than the Chiefs.   Yes, there's Mahomes vs. Purdy, but Kittle, McCaffrey, Samuel is a big talent differential over the Chiefs skill players.   In my mind, it doesn't matter.  Even with that differential, the Niners aren't and shouldn't be the prohibitive favorites.  It's all about how one team plays against the other team.  Although there are games where one player does something that flat out wins the game for his team, in most games talent doesn't determine the outcome.

 

I think that's true because the draft and the salary cap make it impossible to aggregate enough talent simply to overwhelm the opponent.  Total talent on teams is, more or less, evenly matched.   

 

That tells me that strategies are what it's all about.   Training strategies, so that players are able to implement varied game plans from week to week, in the playoffs as well as the regular season.  Offensive and defensive strategies - that is, the game plans.   Play designs, which also are strategies.   It's not that the players don't matter, but even with players, what drives the success of the team are strategies about the kind of players you want, how to get that kind of player, the proper mix of age and youth, all kinds of stuff like that.   

 

Teams succeed by having and implementing strategies at all levels of the operation, and the winners have (1) very good on-field strategies (who and how do we attack?) and (2) very good off-field strategies about how to accumulate and train players.  

 

So, what does tell me about the Bills?   They have to do some things differently.   Obviously true, because the things they've done haven't won a Super Bowl.  That's not just luck.  So, yes, strategy changes are necessary.   One could argue, I suppose that all that's necessary is better luck in the execution of strategies for acquiring players, so that the roster is better, but as I said, talent usually isn't determinative.  Sure, the Bills could have different players, but the players have been good enough to win more in the playoffs.  

 

Adjusting strategies is something that McDermott and most good coaches do.   This time of year they evaluate in depth how well strategies have worked, how successful coaches have been in adjusting strategies, etc., and they make changes based on that evaluation.  They change coaches, or they keep coaches and give them specific areas where they need to improve.  McDermott's performance gets evaluated too, so that he can change and improve his strategies.  And, of course, the Pegulas have to decide whether they think McDermott is capable of leading and implementing change.  If they think all McDermott is doing is the same thing every season and just trying harder, they believe that's the right strategy.  They have decide whether they need to make a change at that level in order to have someone who will install the strategies that will actually win in the playoffs.  

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1 hour ago, philholbroo said:

You have to play to win during playoff vs just surviving in regular season. This seems to be a philosophy that holds them back.

 

1 hour ago, Don Otreply said:

Imo, it is a matter of timely aggression

 

1 hour ago, Arkady Renko said:

McDermott has been playing increasingly aggressive in the playoffs


I think there may be a difference between "aggressiveness" and "imposing your will"/"playing your game".   

I am not sure there is specifically a problem with play calling aggressiveness.  But it seems like in the playoff games we lost to the Chiefs and Bengals, and Texans, the Bills are typically responding to the other teams rather than dictating the pace of place. And we seem to keep ending up one possession behind with that strategy.   I don't if that is because the Bengals , Chiefs and Texans had better talent than the Bills or if this is what the Bills are consiously trying to do. 

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28 minutes ago, Chaos said:

 

 


I think there may be a difference between "aggressiveness" and "imposing your will"/"playing your game".   

I am not sure there is specifically a problem with play calling aggressiveness.  But it seems like in the playoff games we lost to the Chiefs and Bengals, and Texans, the Bills are typically responding to the other teams rather than dictating the pace of place. And we seem to keep ending up one possession behind with that strategy.   I don't if that is because the Bengals , Chiefs and Texans had better talent than the Bills or if this is what the Bills are consiously trying to do. 

I think yours is a pretty good description.  It's always a question of whether the Bills can match the opponent's offense, or be as stout as the opponent's defense.  Which means, in both cases, they're dictating to the Bills.  

 

And that probably derives from McDermott's philosophy of being good at all phases (which necessarily means you aren't great, or dominant, at one).  And that philosophy - being good at everything, is a good regular season philosophy.   In the playoffs, you need to be able to dictate.  

 

I keep coming back to one event - signing Miller - that signifies that the Bills understand this distinction.  They signed Miller for the playoffs.  The Bills wanted to dictate to the offense by having a dominant threat on the edge.   That's a playoff strategy.   Hasn't worked yet. 

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The difference in the playoffs is the coaching 

 

We are at a huge disadvantage with McDermott against good coaches that have upper echelon QB's like Burrow and Mahomes

 

The defensive coach gets abused in the playoffs, and it has cost Josh numerous chances to play in the Superbowl.

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People forget that this is true for so many teams not named the Chiefs or Patriots.  Think about the Saints for a moment.  They were Super Bowl favorites almost every year with Brees and only made one 

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1 hour ago, BADOLBILZ said:

 

Josh is a tremendous QB and the most fun player in the league to watch, IMO.    He got ever-so-close to Mahomes level for that brief moment in the 13 seconds game.   But Allen went into the offseason thinking he'd made it because he left the field winning against Mahomes and the defending champs.

 

But as it turns out,  that wasn't actually a great version of Mahomes or the Chiefs.   They choked and he played careless, gunslinging football in defeat to Cinci the following week.  Mahomes went into that offseason knowing that he needed to change and be a better situational QB/leader.

 

That's where he regained his separation on JA.

 

We hate Mahomes but the guy has had his professional priorities and personal life more in order than JA.    

BADOL, I totally get where you're coming from and some of it I agree with.  In a perfect world I'd like Josh to be a little more cerebral.  I'd like Josh to take a page out of Tom or Peyton and study his profession a little more in the offseason. But what makes Allen elite are the things some of us want to change about him. Don't run as much, stay in the pocket,  check it down,....etc..etc.  That's not who he is or probably who he should be. Brady recognized this and stopped that low positive nonsense and let Josh be what's in his DNA.  

 

We don't know the true outcome of the 2nd & 9 play. Maybe Diggs drops the ball?  Maybe Diggs gets the 1st down but we get stopped 3 plays later?  Maybe the oline holds for a fraction of a second longer and Allen connects on a wide open Shakir.  Life is littered with "what ifs".....but is there room for Josh to improve?.....absolutely!

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