Preparation for a three-headed WR attack + a star-studded QB
The Cincinnati Bengals will pose an offensive threat to the Bills defense on Monday night, starting with Joe Burrow. The franchise QB ranks in the top 6 in passing yards (4,260) and passing touchdowns (34) and is tied with QB Josh Allen for 39 offensive TDs this season.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier points out that his defense is going to have to plan accordingly to combat Burrow's ability to get rid of the ball quickly.
"They've had some sacks over the year, and one of the ways to reduce that is getting the ball out fast and having complementary routes to that," Frazier said. "And the coaches and the quarterback, they've done a really good job of adjusting and getting the ball out and then having a route to complement getting the ball out."
When pressure does come to get rid of the ball, the Bills can expect Burrow to look for any of his wide receivers to complete a play. Between Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd, Burrow has a handful of options to successfully move the ball down the field.
Chase leads the Bengals with 79 receptions and eight receiving TDs despite missing four games, while Higgins leads the Bengals with 1,022 receiving yards this season.
"They've got some really good receivers, and the quarterback is a good player as well," Frazier said. "It definitely presents some issues for you, but I think our guys are looking forward to the challenge and we'll have our hands full. I mean, all three of those guys are very, very good at what they do."
While the DC typically has a "play our game" mindset heading into any given matchup, he said they're going to have to look at different things at times throughout the game because of the level of talent throughout the Bengals roster and the way they spread it out on the field.
"It's not like it's one guy, one featured guy, or two guys," Frazier said. "The running back is pretty good as well. (Joe) Mixon does a good job coming out of the backfield. So, at the end of the day, you still have to be who you are and what has helped us to be a good defense, so you can't completely get away from what you do best. And we'll see how it all works out."
Success of the run game vs. the Bears
The Bills' run game was in full effect in the midst of windy and cold conditions last week against the Chicago Bears.
RB Devin Singletary led all rushers with 12 carries for 106 rushing yards while RB James Cook had 11 carries for a career-high 99 yards. The two running backs, as well as QB Josh Allen, contributed three rushing touchdowns out of the team's total five offensive TDs. When asked about the run game's success, offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey credited the play of the offensive linemen for allowing the run game to take off.
"Anytime we could get our backs into the second level, I think good things will happen because of the talent that they have," Dorsey said. "I think they took it upon themselves upfront to really, have a good understanding of what we were trying to do, understanding their defense, and then understanding their technique and kind of how to use that. So, just a combination of those things, they really did a great job up front in all areas."
Looking specifically at Cook's performance and overall growth since the start of the season, Dorsey feels that he's getting a better feel for certain runs while also hitting routes cleaner now.
"He's done a great job, and he's really putting himself in a position to have the success by working extremely hard to understand the playbook, to where as coaches, we have no problem having him in at any time," Dorsey said. "So, it's a true credit to him and the hard work he's put into it."
"He's done a great job, and he's really putting himself in a position to have the success by working extremely hard to understand the playbook, to whereas coaches, we have no problem having him in at any time," Dorsey said. "So, it's a true credit to him and the hard work he's put into it."
The recent increase in production for the run game has allowed Dorsey to keep the offense as balanced as possible which presents a challenge to opposing defenses.
"I think they're all schemes that we can execute, and we have a good understanding of, while at the same time whether it's just lining up stationary, motioning, shifting out things, I think that's a big advantage for us that creates, hopefully, issues for a defense," Dorsey said.
Dorsey explains recent usage of Diggs
Having the ability to spread the ball out around the offense results in players who typically see the ball a lot not getting as many touches, which partially explains how WR Stefon Diggs fit into the offensive production against the Bears
"We've got a lot of guys within the system who can really help us, and you want to be diverse and how you're attacking defense, so that they can't just focus on one guy, and then all of a sudden your offense is shut down," Dorsey said. "I think Stef knows that and knows that we're always going to make sure that he's a part of our thought process, but at the same time, we got to make sure we're attacking defenses in order to help us win games."
Last week, Josh Allen targeted Diggs twice and he tallied just 26 yards. Dorsey said they had some things that didn't work out that were designed for Diggs. But when in this position, Dorsey emphasizes the importance of trusting what you see to Allen because the defense a lot of times is going to dictate certain things based on the coverage.
Dorsey went on to share that Diggs knows where they're at with him and how they game plan. While the main focus is on staying balanced, the OC said that definitely includes Diggs as well.
"Stef wants to win games. I think that's the biggest thing with him is, he's as passionate as anybody about winning football games," Dorsey said. "I think he understands that in the big picture. And it's a long season, and there are ebbs and flows and everything ... I think there's always that balance, and there's always that fine line you walk to make sure you're doing what's right for everybody, including, but especially your offense and your team as a whole."