1. Bills showcase athleticism on offense
I can't remember the last time the Bills had an offense with this type of makeup. The rookie tight end Dawson Knox had an incredible game averaging 22.3 yards per catch off of three receptions. The 49-yard reception Knox had in the fourth quarter to set up the game winning touchdown was the icing on top of his productive day. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll also got Knox involved in a jet sweep, which you don't see too often to a tight end. It has been a ton of fun to watch this offense unfold. It has to be tough for a defensive coordinator to prepare for all the different looks, motions and personnel groupings the Bills present each week. Through three weeks it has been tough to identify the player of the game on offense because they spread the ball around so well. They have so many different weapons but also so many consistent players.
General manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott did a great job of building this offense. They were able to do a lot with the $60 million in cap money in free agency and the draft. The Bills added four players on offense in the draft and all four are getting consistent playing time. All these additions make it tough on an opposing defense. With running back Devin Singletary not playing on Sunday, you stick T.J. Yeldon in the game who has made a lot of plays in this league. When you have a third running back that caught 55 passes last season for Jacksonville and averages over four yards a carry in his career, it shows off the depth of this offense. The Bills should be able to make it through the entire season, even with injuries, being capable of putting out quality skill players on the field every single week.
2. Defense remains unbreakable
The Bills defense was completely dominant in the first half. The Bengals didn't get a first down until very late in the second quarter. The crowd was loud and provided a great atmosphere, which makes it difficult for an opposing offense to operate. The defense came up big in the fourth quarter with a huge Tre'Davious White interception when it mattered most. They have made an impact in a number of ways—pressuring the quarterback through blitzing, rushing four, and mixing up coverages. In a number of situations, they have shown their strength with a number of short-yardage stops. It's hard to say enough good things to compliment this defense. They will get their best test so far of the season this coming Sunday in the Patriots.
Coming into this game the Bengals were no joke in their passing attack - ranking second in the NFL after putting up 418 yards in the air against the Seahawks and 311 against the 49ers. To not allow a first down until very late in the second quarter just shows how disruptive this defense is.
Another thing to point out is the fact that the Bills go eight deep on their defensive line. Most NFL teams don't even dress eight defensive linemen, and the Bills play all eight. An opposing offense constantly has to deal with fresh bodies coming at them. It's also unique that all eight look very different in their size and provide different challenges for opposing offensive lines. There's rookie end Darryl Johnson who is tall with long arms at 6-6. Jerry Hughes is a shorter defensive end by league standards at 6-2 and he can bend so low to the ground. Shaq Lawson is a bigger end that can run right through an offense. Trent Murphy is a big leader on this team and is so slippery coming at you. The rookie Ed Oliver is a shorter tackle but is very quick on his feet. There's Star Lotulelei, Jordan Phillips and Harrison Phillips who are big powerful tackles. These linemen give you so many different looks and it must be so tough to prepare for from an offensive linemen's perspective.
3. QB Josh Allen gets the job done when it matters most
Josh Allen naturally has a gunslinger mentality. He is an absolute competitor. I love that about his game. He is always willing to put it all out there for the Bills. But, at times, that comes with some risky decision-making. Through three games there have been some risky throws, but the Bills are 3-0 and he gets to learn from his mistakes while winning. Yes, he has to make better decisions at times. But, I've been around Bills quarterbacks throughout my career that were much more conservative in their decision-making. I think in this league to be successful consistently, you have to make plays down the field. I believe that as Allen matures and progresses in his career, those decisions will get tightened up.
Allen is phenomenal at making plays out of the pocket with his legs. Daboll calls a number of designed quarterback runs that you don't see a lot in the NFL. One of the things I thought he did extremely well yesterday was getting down at the end of runs and not taking big shots. But in crucial times, with the game on the line, you saw him try to make a play and he didn't slide. He's trying to score a touchdown, which is smart. Early in the game, there's no need to take a shot. It's not more important than losing a quarterback for the rest of the game. This year when Allen has scrambled, he's doing a great job of looking downfield. Sunday, we saw him make an incredible throw over a defender to John Brown who was working back to the ball. Since Allen is keeping his eyes down the field when he scrambles, the receivers know that and are continuing to work to get open. As Allen extends a play for six or seven seconds, it is very hard for a defensive back to keep up with a receiver that long.
4. Looking ahead: Patriots vs. Bills
Playing against the Patriots, you have to score points. The Patriots offense is so good and they have so many weapons that you're likely not going to beat them 17-14. The Bills need to put up at least 24-27 points to beat the Patriots. It will be a tough matchup with the talent the Patriots have on defense as well, but the Bills offense has shown they can be explosive.
This Bills defense will give the Patriots offense the biggest test they've had so far and I do think the Bills defense can have success against New England. A big factor in that will be getting pressure on quarterback Tom Brady and doing that without blitzing. I think through Brady's career, the teams that have been able to be effective against him provide pressure up the middle to affect Brady's vision. That can be batting balls, physically hitting him in the pocket, whatever it may be, you have to get him flustered. He is so good at identifying the blitz that you can't simply bring six or seven guys on blitz schemes because he will pick you apart. You have to be able to pressure with four guys and you have to disguise your coverages. The two safeties in Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde might be the best in the league at disguising coverages.
We could potentially see Daboll open up more of his playbook on Sunday. But, what Daboll does extremely well is week-to-week he builds off of looks that he has already shown. He will give you the exact same look and formation that you've seen in the past on film and he will do something different off of it. Playing against his former team that he spent 11 seasons with, I am sure there will be a lot of attention given to this game plan.
The atmosphere will be rocking on Sunday. One of my most fun games I've played in was when we were 2-0 in 2011 and beat the Patriots at home to get to 3-0. I still remember that game and atmosphere. I would expect something similar, maybe even a notch ramped up with both teams coming into this game 3-0.
Scroll through to see photos of all the action as the Bills take on the Bengals during week 3 of the 2019 football season.
5. Observations from around the NFL
Lamar Jackson vs. Patrick Mahomes
It's funny to think that the new Brady-Manning matchup may be Jackson-Mahomes. The matchup did not disappoint yesterday, there was a lot of points put up. Mahomes finished the day completing 27 of 37 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns. Jackson completed 22 of 43 passes for 267 yards and had 46 rushing yards. Both offenses are playing so well this early in the year. This may be the next wave of NFL quarterbacks - you have two guys that are mobile and can sling the ball down the field. I'm familiar with Jackson because he played at my alma mater Louisville and I've watched him play for several years now. It's interesting that we could be seeing this next generation of football in Jackson and Mahomes.
Daniel Jones takes over as starting QB of Giants
Anytime you replace a likely Hall of Famer in Eli Manning, all the eyes are going to be on you. When you do it in the Big Apple, that's going to create even more attention. Daniel Jones was the sixth overall pick in this year's draft and there was a lot of criticism with that pick. Now you have Jones replace Manning and in his first start he gets a win. Prior, the Giants were 0-2 and haven't looked good this season. The Bills were in control of the entire game when they beat the Giants in Week 2. Jones played well and it will be interesting to see if he can sustain success. As a young quarterback in this league, it becomes tougher and tougher with each start because you get more and more film on you and they find out more and more of your tendencies. It will be interesting to follow Daniel Jones throughout this year, Giants fans have to feel encouraged with him getting a win in his first start.