1. Utilizing speed early adds a new dimension to the Bills offense
We didn’t see Isaiah McKenzie active last week against the Eagles and as windy as it was I think the offense missed him. Against the Redskins we see an active McKenzie and a heavy dose of Devin Singletary to start the game. Singletary had three carries last week and 20 this week. Bills fans have been asking for this from Singletary, but I can understand why we are just seeing this amount of production out of the rookie. You don’t want to throw Singletary into the fire too early and he was out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury. I think we are seeing him get active at the perfect time.
Singletary had 140 all-purpose yards and a touchdown yesterday, this is what the coaching staff wants out of him. The Washington Redskins were very stout up the middle. Their three defensive linemen they play with up the middle are extremely good. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll started out early with more outside runs and jet sweeps with McKenzie. On one drive early the offense handed the ball off or faked the jet sweep motion several times in a row, that type of lateral movement really stretched the Redskins defense.
The big story going into this game was the fact that for the first time in NFL history two running backs who have more than 13,500 rushing yards played in the same game in Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson. Peterson had a great first half with more than 100 rushing yards including a couple of incredible runs showing off how talented and physical he truly is at times. Singletary’s ability to make defenders miss was incredible yesterday. I’m not sure how many missed tackles he will get credited for, some were just simply shaking guys out of their shoes and some were forced missed tackles. He is someone that was a huge help in opening up the offense against the Redskins.
2. Addressing the short-yardage solution
In today’s NFL when teams bring in their big bodies, it’s really tough to run the ball. We saw that on the goal line yesterday in short-yardage situations. When a team gets really big up front on defense, it is not easy to run the ball in this league. The Bills have done a great job of mixing up personnel, which constantly stresses the defense. They bring in multiple tight ends and that’s when the play-action can work a little better, getting bigger bodies and making them cover tight ends, making linebackers play zone defense against receivers. At times, the Bills have gotten smaller too, for example the Singletary touchdown run. The rookie was able to take an inside zone to the house untouched.
The Bills did struggle yesterday on short-yardage plays, the percentage of having success on those plays yesterday was not in their favor. You have to give the Redskins front credit. Daron Payne is a first rounder, Jonathan Allen is a first rounder, Matt Ioannidis is a good defensive end in his own regard. When the Bills had their first three plays from the goal line, they ran the exact same play with the exact same motion, that was a challenge to the offensive line. Daboll called the same play over the left side over Quinton Spain and Dion Dawkins which says we are coming right over the top of you to get in the end zone. That didn’t work out. In a loss, we would probably be a lot more upset about it. In a win, we see how they can grow and correct it this week.
I think this is on everybody and in this league if it’s third-and-one and they know you are running the football, it’s tough to get it. They have to be multiple. With that, maybe we will see more play-action from under center, big personnel packages or see the offense split out in empty. It’s easy to say the offensive line needs to get more push, but in reality sometimes it’s tough to do that.
3. Defense shuts down the run in the second half
Adrian Peterson had a great first half with more than 100 rushing yards. The week prior, the Eagles rushed for 218 yards. For several quarters, the Bills run defense was a cause for concern. In the second half against the Redskins, they applied a little more pressure from the outside and on the plays they didn’t pressure, they had better fits. Everybody was doing their 1/11th, that’s what rush defense is. Often times you can have a terrible play in the secondary on a run play, but the defensive lineman makes a play and it covers for everybody. If that doesn’t happen, everybody needs to be in their exact position and they did a much better job in the second half. The defense limited Peterson to just seven rushing yards in the second half. By bringing the safeties off the edge, they were able to get contact on Peterson in the backfield and not let him get a full head of steam.
The Redskins have been held out of the end zone for three games now, that’s a franchise record for them and that’s not the type of record you want to set. The Bills did a great job of keeping the Redskins out for the end zone for how much success the Redskins had early on in the run game. Buffalo held this team to under 10 points and when you do that it makes winning a lot easier.
4. Looking ahead: Week 10 at Browns
The Browns open as a two-point favorite in this game. Generally, in the NFL, the home field advantage swings at three points. The 6-2 Bills are a one-point favorite on a neutral field over the 2-6 Browns. That shows just how small the margins are in the NFL between a team with six wins and a team with two wins.
There was a lot of hype around the Browns in the off-season and rightfully so with Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, David Njoku and a number of big names on defense as well. They’ve started out the season not how many people expected, there’s got to be a lot of people in the locker room with a lot of frustration. Cleveland has the second-ranked AFC East team coming in and the Browns are going to say this is an opportunity for us to make a statement against a team with a good record and we can get back on the right track with a win. At six losses, their season is still not over.
5. Observations from around the NFL
Miami’s first win
The Dolphins beat the Jets 26-18 at home. I talked to Ryan Fitzpatrick last night and he was extremely excited about the win. I am really happy for him and it just shows what he can do to a locker room and how he can unify this group. From a front office perspective, this team is tanking. The guys in the locker room though are still out there playing very hard. It’s such a physical game and you put your body at risk every week, you want to go out and win some games and have fun.
That’s a big win for Miami and the Bills get to see them on the road in two weeks. This is an opponent who has played teams very closely with a cast of characters that the front office thought they could lose a lot of games with. Fitzpatrick completed 24 of 36 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns. His undrafted rookie receiver Preston Williams caught five of those passes for 72 yards and had two touchdowns. DeVante Parker is playing extremely well, he had a touchdown yesterday and Mike Gesicki is helping this team get first downs averaging 15.8 yards per reception against the Jets. They are turning into a team that when teams play them on the road they have to show up for this game, which is very different than what we thought in the beginning of the season.
Patriots first loss
The Ravens beat the Patriots last night 37-20. Watching Lamar Jackson was really fun, he completed 17 of 23 passes for 163 yards and had one touchdown in the air. On the ground, Jackson had 61 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Baltimore is a team I have a lot of ties to and want to cheer for especially against the Patriots. Being a Louisville grad, I used to train with Jackson when I went back in the offseason. I played for the Ravens' offensive coordinator Greg Roman and helped connect Roman to their now offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris who I played for here as well under a different staff.
Watching how they dissected the Patriots defense, which is historically good, showed off Baltimore’s talent on offense. Going into this game the Patriots defense scored four touchdowns and had given up four touchdowns on the season. Last night, Baltimore was able to control the game on the ground with play-action. Coach Roman, I think, may go down as one of the best mobile quarterbacks coaches. He has taken Colin Kaepernick and Tyrod Taylor to the Pro Bowl. He is coaching Jackson to a great season so far.
Tom Brady has thrown five interceptions in his last six games. When you have Josh Gordon on your opening day roster and Antonio Brown on the roster for a bit as well as several other new names, it’s tough to put things together chemistry-wise. It’s very similar to the Bills who have nine new faces on offense. Even though it’s Brady, it’s still going to take some time to get on the same page. You have to give credit to this Ravens defense too for helping earn the win.
AFC playoff picture
Indianapolis Colts (5-3)
One thing that sticks out to me, that is still a bit of an unknown, is the Jacoby Brissett injury. They have not ruled him out to start this week and are waiting for MRI results to give them more information on the severity of the MCL sprain. It will be very tough for this team to withstand two quarterbacks not being able to play, but we will see how that pans out this week. Brissett staying healthy will be crucial for the Colts’ playoff picture to remain bright.
Kansas City Chiefs (6-3)
The Chiefs had a huge 26-23 win without Patrick Mahomes against a great Minnesota Vikings team. We will maybe see Mahomes back this week, but wow this team has a lot of weapons and is winning without their best player. From a Bills fan perspective, you would like to see an NFC team get the win over a great AFC team. But, the Chiefs are tough to beat.
Buffalo Bills (6-2)
The Bills to the playoffs needs to happen sitting here at 6-2 at the midseason mark. Buffalo is on the road for the next two weeks, but your next three opponents have losing records. Even if you drop one you are at 8-3 and still at such a good position heading into the final tough stretch of the season. The Bills playoff chances look great and if they can keep getting better especially on offense, this team can be one to reckon with in the playoffs.
Scroll through to see photos of all the action as the Bills take on the Redskins during Week 9 of the 2019 football season.