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Monday Morning Breakdown

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Eric Wood | How downfield blocking and creative playcalling opened up the Bills offense this week


1. Offensive line executes in downfield blocking and pulling

The offensive line showed up again when it came to creating open running lanes with their ability to pull and finish blocks on the second level. However, it wasn't just the offensive line though, several players on offense played a part in making key blocks downfield.

When you look at it, the Bills almost have two different types of run game with Devin Singletary and Frank Gore. Gore is more of a power back and you still use pulling guards, but it's more of a power scheme. When the rookie Singletary is in the game and they pull, it's more of what we call a G Scheme. That means the guys on the front side are pulling, you'll have a down blocker to the front side and then pullers out in front. The one thing the offensive line is doing a great job of pulling out in front of him.

The thing I'm most impressed by on the longer runs is they've been able to hit with those pullers, especially with Devin Singletary in the backfield. Singletary does a great job of setting up the offensive line because it's not that easy to pull in space on guys that are much faster than you. You need the running back to be patient, to put the defender right on you and then break off of you. As a rookie, he's just phenomenal at it. You have to tip your hat to Singletary and Gore. Singletary has been attached to Gore's hip and you know he is helping him in these types of situations.

There's never going to be a perfect game for the offensive line, but I thought they had a really productive first half. I thought center Mitch Morse pulled and played extremely well against the Giants. Morse led the way on the Singletary touchdown. I'll give a shout out to a non-offensive lineman. On the touchdown catch to Isaiah McKenzie, essentially a jet sweep, tight end Dawson Knox was in front of that play leading the way, blocking extremely well. Tight end Lee Smith had a number of guys that he put on the ground. That type of physicality sets the tone, especially when it comes from one of your tight ends.

2. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll shows creativity in playcalling

I think offensive coordinator Brian Daboll does a great job creating formations and concepts that complement each other. From week to week, a certain formation will give you different looks. Last week we saw a lot of an "I" back set that motioned to an empty. This week, they started in an "I" set and they motioned the tight end Tommy Sweeney to a different spot. They just have great movement with the motions presnap. The offense has motions that look like previous run plays and they'll run a play action off of that. They run naked bootlegs, then they will run that same bootleg and pull up Josh Allen in the pocket and throw it back across the formation. It can just be really tough to prepare for as a defensive coordinator because you don't know what you're going to get week to week.

With more weapons this year, I think we are seeing Daboll open up more of his playbook. There are more playmakers on the outside and more depth at skill positions. I think because of that we are seeing more of Daboll's creativity. I've been extremely impressed through two weeks.

The Bills ran a unique play against the Giants, it was only for four yards but they were trying to run the clock out. It's a play that just makes the defense stay honest. They ran a fake jet sweep across the formation on a hard count, then they brought McKenzie back across the other way and handed it off to him. It's plays like that, that make the defense have to stay honest through the entire game.

3. Defensive line has another strong performance

The defensive line played great for the second week in a row. They had a few batted balls at the line of scrimmage this week including one that caused an interception after posting five tipped passes last week. That takes so much pressure off of the secondary. The way they pass rush, bat balls, get to the quarterback, it's why they have one of the best pass defenses in the league through two weeks. Running back Saquon Barkley had more than 100 yards on the ground, but when you consider that 55 came on the first drive, the defense did a good job of limiting big plays throughout the game. The defense went up against two great running backs in Le'Veon Bell and Saquon Barkley and showed they can limit some of the best running backs in the league.

When you think about it, the Bills defensive line is eight players deep and all of them are productive. You saw as the game went on, the Giants had to change their game plan and rely more on the pass than the run because they did a good job of shutting down Barkley. The interior defensive line has been stout with Star Lotulelei, Ed Oliver, Jordan Phillips and Harrison Phillips. What they do is push the pocket and free up space for the defense, a lot of time the defensive tackles are freeing up the defensive ends so they can get into one-on-one matchups.

4. Looking ahead: Bengals vs. Bills in Week 3

The Bills will have their home opener in Week 3 and face a Cincinnati Bengals team with a first year head coach in Zac Taylor. It's a franchise that's on a little bit of a rebuild seeing that they moved on from Marvin Lewis who had been there for so long. Quarterback Andy Dalton has won several games as a Bengal and they have several productive players across the board, so this is a game that can't be overlooked. The Bills have to come in prepared for this matchup. Coming home with two road wins, the atmosphere on Sunday is going to be incredible.

5. Observations from around the NFL

Patriots vs. Dolphins

In an AFC East matchup on Sunday, the Patriots shutout the Dolphins 43-0. Miami is in an obvious rebuild mode. They trade away their left tackle Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills and a few other guys as well. My only issue with them dumping so many players is, yes they are gaining draft picks, but they trade a franchise left tackle in Laremy Tunsil who was a first rounder and Kenny Stills for two first-round picks and two second-round picks. Well, one of those first-round picks is going to have to go towards a quarterback. The second first-rounder is going to have to go towards another left tackle and who knows if you get the right guy. To me, you trade away your left tackle who could have been your blind side protection for your future quarterback. How many weapons can you add to make this first year quarterback successful?

The Patriots are absolutely loaded on offense. Any opposing team is going to have to score several points against them, which is not easy to do. The Patriots will be extremely tough to play against this year. With that many weapons on offense, it comes down to getting pressure on quarterback Tom Brady. But, with Brady you can't simply just blitz him. You need to be able to get pressure with four guys up front because otherwise as you bring secondary players, he will pick you apart. The teams that are going to play well against the Patriots are going to be teams that can disrupt the game through their front four on their defensive line.

Browns vs. Jets

In a Monday night matchup, Cleveland gets to face a very depleted New York Jets roster with quarterback Sam Darnold, defensive lineman Quinnen Williams and linebacker C.J. Mosley out. Mosley is a tremendous middle linebacker, when he left the Bills game last week there was an obvious drop off in their defense. The Browns are a 6.5 point favorite and neither one of these teams wants to fall to 0-2 to start the season.

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