1 - Brian Daboll on Bills' rushing success
Through the first four weeks of the 2018 season, the Bills largely struggled to get anything going on the ground.
LeSean McCoy totaled just 21 carries for 85 yards through his first three games of the season. Chris Ivory entered Week 5 with just 81 rushing yards on the season. Buffalo's offense was centered around Josh Allen and the passing attack in the first quarter of the season, and the team's running backs struggled to get carries as a result.
The focus of Buffalo's offense shifted in Week 5, as the Bills got both McCoy and Ivory involved early and often in the win over the Titans. Buffalo handed the ball off a total of 39 times, McCoy doubled his 2018 rushing-yard total on the day, picking up 85 yards on the ground. Ivory finished the game with 43 rushing yards.
According to offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, simply sticking with the run game allowed the team to find success on the ground.
"Called a bunch of them," Daboll said. "The running game, you get one and two and zero and a negative one. Sticking with the runs when things aren't always five, six, seven a pop sometimes is tough. But we went along and we had a game plan to go ahead and try to run the ball and establish the line of scrimmage and stick with it."
Being in a contest that was a one-score game throughout its entire duration inspired the team to continue its rushing attack.
"That's always helpful," Daboll said. "The running game, we want to be a good running football team and establish the line of scrimmage. Again, one week is different than the next week. One situation is different than the next situation. [Sunday] was kind of a back and forth game, grind out game. It's just something that we were planning on doing."
2 - MMQB believes in Bills' 'foundation'
Head coach Sean McDermott often refers to Buffalo's roster as a "work in progress". He and general manager Brandon Beane have heavily altered the roster they inherited in the 2017 offseason, shipping out a number of the team's former stars while building a young core through the draft and free agency.
In their Week 5 matchup with the Tennessee Titans, McDermott and the Bills put the "progress" in "work in progress." Buffalo's defense shined in the contest, limiting Tennessee to just 221 net yards. Defensive cornerstones Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds played well, combining for 18 tackles.
Buffalo's win over the Titans was an old-fashioned contest in which the team's young players led them to victory. Monday Morning QB writer Albert Breer was encouraged by what he saw out of the Bills in the contest, writing that he feels as though McDermott and Beane have built a nice base that could eventually develop into something special.
"Buffalo is carrying more than $50 million in dead money in 2018, meaning almost a third of their salary cap is eaten up by players who aren't on the team," Breer wrote. ". . . And yet, with this stripped-down operation—following last year's playoff run with a veteran team—they're now 2-3, after Sunday's 13-12 win over Tennessee on Stephen Hauschka's walk-off game-winning field goal. Obviously, a lot of where they go from here will ride on the development of QB Josh Allen. But I think it's hard to deny a nice foundation is being laid in Western New York."
3 - Leslie Frazier now sees options cornerback
Buffalo's situation at the cornerback position is an interesting one.
Sophomore Tre'Davious White has established himself as one of the best young cornerbacks in the league. Coming off of a tremendous rookie campaign, White has continued his strong play into 2018, recording 16 tackles and four pass deflections through five games.
While White has been solid, teams need to play at least two corners at a time, and unfortunately, the Bills have been unable to find a consistent starter opposite White. Phillip Gaines has seen time on the boundary throughout the season, and Ryan Lewis has started two games at the position. The recently signed Donate Johnson has experience on the outside, as well.
Though the right cornerback position is in flux, the Bills have options. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier doesn't see any reason to panic.
"It's one of those things that you have to work through," Frazier said. "The opponent is not going to say, 'Okay, we're going to change our strategy because you're not where you want to be at the right corner spot.' You have to find ways to strategically figure it out to give your team, our defense, the best chance to be successful.
"I think Ryan [Lewis] has done a good job for us in working to compete at the position. We're fortunate to get Phillip [Gaines] back. He's healthy now so he's able to go out there and help us as well. We'll see as we go through it, what we need to do from week to week. But those guys are working their tails off to help us and take some of the burden off of Tre'Davious and it's up to us to strategize ways to help that position as well."
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