Monday Morning Breakdown

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Eric Wood | 5 observations on the Bills heading into Week 11

Buffalo Bills middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (49) sacks Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) for a safety. Buffalo Bills vs Cleveland Browns at First Energy Stadium on November 10, 2019. Photo by Craig Melvin
Buffalo Bills middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (49) sacks Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) for a safety. Buffalo Bills vs Cleveland Browns at First Energy Stadium on November 10, 2019. Photo by Craig Melvin

1. Advice on how to improve the offense's passing game

Anytime you're looking at the passing game, you need to look at everything involved. That means quarterback play, receiver play and offensive line play. I think part of the issue yesterday was Cleveland's pass rush was able to collapse the pocket at times, forcing Josh Allen to scramble, take sacks or throw the ball quicker than he wanted to. I remember on the play that Isaiah McKenzie got three-deep coverage, Josh Allen overthrew the ball and it ends up being a roughing the passer call so he got 15 yards out of it. But, the offensive line let the pass rush get home and that affected the throw. Those are potentially game-changing plays.

At other times, it seemed like some throws were just off the mark. Often times when throws are just off the mark, it's hard to say if the route was run exactly how it was supposed to or was the throw off target. That's something only Allen, Brian Daboll and the players involved could give an accurate assessment on.

The offense was five of 13 on third down and you'd like to see that number improve. Several of those third downs were also key points in the game. I think maybe the biggest problem was how slow the offense started. As the game progressed, they were able to move the ball and they ended up with 260 yards through the air. The passing game was a big emphasis for them yesterday. The Browns were in man defense a lot on third down situations and the Bills just simply couldn't separate from the coverage.

You'd like the see the completion percentage higher for Allen as he completed 53.6% of his passes, but the NFL is such a game of inches. If Allen completes some of those passes that could have been taken into the end zone, you're looking at a 300-yard game for him and we would have a completely different story. Allen again does not throw an interception, that's four games without one. He does have the fumble near the goal line and Jon Feliciano made an incredible play to save that drive. They eventually score on that drive and here is Josh Allen again showing up in the fourth quarter. He threw for 108 yards and had a rushing touchdown.

The offense did a great job of handling business in the red zone again, two of three in reaching the end zone when they got into the red zone. Allen came into this game with the NFL's second-highest quarterback rating and the second-highest completion percentage in the red zone. Allen is making great decisions and making big plays when they do get into the red zone which is extremely impressive, especially for a young player.

2. Tremaine Edmunds game-changing plays in year two

Tremaine Edmunds had a terrific game with a safety yesterday when the Bills desperately needed a big play. Edmunds has had a great couple of impactful plays in the last few weeks especially in the second half yesterday against the run. The play to force the safety was phenomenal. I'm not sure what the pre-snap communication was, but he looked over and signaled something. He then took the edge and Baker Mayfield was completely caught off-guard. The goal-line stand the defense had and the eight plays that the defense ran inside the two-yard line without being able to score a touchdown was incredible. The defense really allowed the Bills to stay in this game.

Anytime you're a captain of a defense that came into this game third in the NFL in points allowed, you are doing something well. He's communicating the plays coming in and often times signaling out on the field. For a guy that is as young as he is, it's extremely impressive to watch what he's able to do. When you meet him, it's not surprising because he is a very mature young man. He has an extremely bright future here in Buffalo.

3. Dawson Knox's ability to expose linebackers and safeties

Josh Allen loves throwing the ball to John Brown and Cole Beasley, Brown especially on third down. Lately he has been targeting Dawson Knox on a number of these throws. Yesterday, we saw Knox make a catch on third down and break away from safety Morgan Burnett. Anytime Knox gets the ball in his hands he likes to pull that stiff arm and get yards after catch. He currently has 97 total yards after catch this season. For a player that came out of Ole Miss without any touchdowns and was drafted in the third round, he has been able to make a number of plays for the Bills early in his rookie season. He was the third leading receiver against the Browns with four catches for 55 yards. That's a great sign for the future of the tight end position with him there.

4. Looking ahead: Week 11 Bills at Dolphins

The Dolphins gave the Bills a good run the last time they faced each other in Week 7. That was a tough road environment for the Dolphins to play in and Ryan Fitzpatrick has a way of unifying a team. Fitzpatrick has those guys playing extremely hard for him. Earlier in the season when they really struggled and were getting rid of a lot of players, Fitzpatrick said he was having to introduce himself to players in the huddle the Friday before their first game and teach them the snap count.

Fast forward to Week 11, Fitz is catching a little bit of a rhythm offensively and the defense is playing better. They played the Bills tough in Orchard Park, then they played the Steelers close and now have won the last two games. This is looking like a tougher matchup than it appeared it would be a few weeks ago.

5. Observations from around the NFL: Wild Card contenders

Looking ahead, the Bills now have four teams within a game and a half of them in the wild card. In the next seven weeks, Buffalo faces the NFL's two top offenses and four top 11 defenses. The Bills have some tough matchups coming up and they've positioned themselves well at 6-3. They are a game and a half up in the wild card, still securing a playoff spot at this time. Moving forward, Buffalo does not need to scrap everything it has done. The Bills have been productive this year in a number of ways. They just need to continue to grow, especially on the offensive side of the football. They're hovering just below an average of 20 points per game, in their last seven games, if they can get that average up into the mid 20s, that will go a long way in continuing to secure a playoff spot.

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