1 - Lions HC breaks down Buffalo’s emerging offense
An Upstate New York-native, Matt Patricia is incredibly familiar with the Buffalo Bills.
The current Lions’ head coach has faced off against the Bills 28 times throughout his 14-year professional coaching career. Prior to becoming the sideline boss in Detroit, Patricia served on the Patriots’ coaching staff in a multitude of roles, most notably as their defensive coordinator from 2012-2017.
Though the Lions and Bills rarely meet in the regular season, Patricia enters the Week 15 matchup with a wealth of knowledge on Buffalo’s offense, as he’s been game planning for the team twice a year for more than a decade.
Though Patricia is familiar with the Bills’ offense, he feels as though the unit has changed since he left the AFC East. The rookie head coach knows that the talented unit, which has totaled more than 1,500 net yards over their past four games, will present a challenge this week.
“Certainly the thing that’s the most familiar are the players that are there, that were there before,” Patricia said. “[LeSean] McCoy, [Charles] Clay, Zay Jones, guys you’re just familiar with even in other places, Chris Ivory. Those guys are just great players that continually get better, there are struggles and problems that they bring to the table when you dry to defend against them. “
Patricia knows that containing rookie passer Josh Allen, who has accounted for 932 total yards over the past three games, will not be an easy task.
“Obviously a great young quarterback in Josh Allen that you have to try and deal with there,” Patricia said. “Those names are familiar, you understand what they are and how good they are.”
2 - MJD: LeSean McCoy a HOF lock
Maurice Jones-Drew knows a good running back when he sees one.
The former All-Pro was one of the league’s best running backs in the early 21st century, surpassing the 1,000-rushing yard plateau on three consecutive occasions at his peak. Jones-Drew’s praise comes with some bearing, as the former Pro Bowler knows what it takes to succeed in the NFL.
Jones-Drew recently bestowed Buffalo ball carrier LeSean McCoy with the highest praise that one can give to a running back.
Jones-Drew, who now works as an analyst for the NFL Network, identified three active rushers who he feels are locks for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his weekly Running Back Index. The pundit feels as though McCoy will be enshrined in Canton once he ultimately decides to retire.
“Playing for the Bills in his 10th NFL season, McCoy, 30, was one of the best running backs in the league for several years,” Jones-Drew wrote. “His elusiveness and catching ability make him a nightmare to tackle, and he's often been his team's offensive centerpiece.
“Along with making the postseason three times with the Eagles, the six-time Pro Bowler was a major reason Buffalo ended its 17-year playoff drought in 2017. Shady also has the numbers to earn football immortality, with more than 10,000 rushing yards.”
Jones-Drew believes that McCoy, Adrian Peterson, and former Bills running back Marshawn Lynch have already earned their spots in the Hall of Fame.
A former second-round draft pick, McCoy has constructed a remarkable professional career. He’s rushed for 10,571 yards throughout his time in the league, hitting the 1,000-rushing yard mark six times.
At just 30 years of age, McCoy still has time to pad his rushing total and add to his impressive resumé. Through 12 games this season, McCoy has rushed for 479 yards and two scores.
3 - Wallace a Top 5 CB since Week 10
It was an undrafted free agent who unexpectedly put his foot inside of what was a revolving door at Buffalo’s number two cornerback position, finally giving the team some consistency in an area that had troubled them all season.
Levi Wallace is the fourth cornerback who has started opposite Tre’Davious White this season, and he’s been by far the most effective. The rookie, who spent the majority of his debut campaign on the Bills’ practice squad, has started every game since being promoted to the active roster in Week 10.
According to Pro Football Focus writer Evan McPhillips, Wallace has been one of the league’s best defensive backs since his Week 10 debut. McPhillips writes that Wallace has been a top-five cornerback over the past five weeks.
“Among cornerbacks with at least 100 coverage snaps in Weeks 10-14, the Alabama product’s overall grade of 78.8 and coverage grade of 82.1 rank fourth and fifth, respectively,” McPhillips wrote. “In that span, Wallace has allowed only 50 yards (tied for first) and a passer rating of 58.9 when targeted (ninth).
According to McPhillips, quarterbacks have a completion percentage of just 45.5 percent when targeting Wallace. Playing in a zone-heavy defense, one of Wallace’s primary responsibilities is quick tackling, or making sure that a receiver doesn’t pick up additional yardage after coming down with a catch. Wallace has been one of the league’s best defensive backs at preventing “YAC,” according to McPhillips, allowing just four yards after the catch since Week 10.
Through four starts, Wallace has recorded 16 tackles and two pass deflections.
When the Bills threw Wallace into the starting lineup, they were simply looking for a sufficient complement to White, someone who they could rely on to make plays when needed. In Wallace, they found a young playmaker with loads of potential, someone who may establish himself as a dependable starting cornerback before the season comes to an end.