1 – Buffalo has their quarterback
Sunday’s game was not a win in the end, but it wasn’t due to any lack of effort from rookie QB Josh Allen. Demonstrating noticeable progress in just his second start since returning from an elbow injury, Allen laid it all on the line in the comeback effort against the Dolphins.
“I thought he played a heck of a game. He really did,” said head coach Sean McDermott. "An emotional game. He played hard. Led us on a two-minute drive at the end there. The guy is a competitor man. He’s a competitive sucker. I’ll take him on my team any day. It was a great performance.”
Allen accounted for 366 of the Bills 415 total net yards of offense, including a team-record 135 yards on the ground. He led the Bills back from a 14-6 deficit in the second half, as Buffalo scored 10 straight points to take the lead, before a couple of questionable calls by officials put Miami in scoring range to re-take the lead.
Allen led a two-minute drive at the end the game that saw Buffalo drive from their own 10-yard line 60 yards before the quarterback’s fourth-down, last-play heave to the end zone came up just short as Charles Clay was unable to come up with the ball.
Allen, like most quarterbacks, shouldered a lot of the shortcomings the offense experienced.
“Our line did a good job of protecting. We took advantage of a few opportunities, but at the end of the day we didn’t win the football game and this one hurts,” he said. “It hurts a lot for our team. A lot of missed opportunities on my end where it’d be a different story.”
Even though the Bills came up short in the game, they learned that they have their guy at quarterback.
“Josh is the guy,” said Zay Jones. “This team, our organization, the front office, from the owners to management has done a great job of finding a young leader who wants to win and has all the intangibles and the mindset. Of course, there’s a lot of sharpening to do for everybody on this team, but Josh is our guy. I know it. Everybody knows it. Seventeen is the man. He works hard. He prepares hard. He gives everything he has on Sunday. I can’t say enough about him.”
Allen admitted he was gassed by the end of the game, but his opponents may have been even more exhausted trying to chase him down.
“Yeah, my lungs hurt," said Dolphins DE Robert Quinn of chasing Allen. "What do you all call those? Dashers? Like I said, he’s deceivingly fast and elusive."
Even Miami head coach Adam Gase was impressed, and not all that encouraged about the prospect of facing him twice a year.
"He’s a big guy that can run and obviously (if) somebody shakes free down the field he, can throw it a long way. So, he causes a lot of problem in that area," Gase said. "You’ve got to stay in your coverage when he starts scrambling around. That’s why it’s hard for guys to just take off and start chasing him because they know if they leave their guy and he sees them, it’s going to be a touchdown. He’s only going to get better. He’s going to be a tough guy to go against for a long time."
2 - Zay Jones shines in a loss
Just three weeks ago, Zay Jones was proving to be an emerging weapon on third down as he helped in the win over the Jets with five of the team’s eight conversions. On Sunday against the Dolphins, he looked uncoverable.
Targeted nine times, Jones had four receptions for 67 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 12 minutes left in regulation. He also had the ensuing two-point conversion to give Buffalo a three-point advantage.
“He’s been doing a good job. He works extremely hard,” said Allen.
After the game Allen and Jones were lamenting what would’ve been a third touchdown pass between the two of them. On a 3rd-and-6 at the Dolphins 14-yard line, early third quarter, Jones broke away from his man coverage assignment across the back of the end zone.
He thought he should continue taking the space in the end zone, but Allen on the play was expecting him to sit down once open. The pass sailed behind Jones, who continued his route.
“I missed an opportunity with him on that third down in the first half,” Allen said. “He made a football play, an instinctive play to keep going. It was cover zero. I didn’t see that. I was throwing to where I thought he was going to spot up. He saw zero coverage and green grass so I’ve got to put that one on him.”
“It sucks because that’s a play that I want back. I could’ve been a stationary target. I should’ve been. I should’ve just sat for him,” said Jones. “I saw green grass so I thought it was an easy read. I’m not in his shoes and it’s hard to be back there at quarterback. He expects something. The route is supposed to be sat down. I can’t start freelancing so it hurts. You want those back.”
Despite the miscommunication, Jones is emerging as the go-to receiver in Buffalo’s passing attack. Allen relied on him for a few third down conversions and constantly sought him out on key passing downs.
3 – Blitz package bolsters pass rush
Buffalo’s pass rush has been productive all season long, but on Sunday against the Dolphins, the Bills added a new wrinkle. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is not one to make many blitz calls, but against Miami they took advantage of a few opportunities in Miami’s protection scheme.
Frazier sent each one of his safeties on blitzes through the course of the game and just about every one proved effective. Rafael Bush had a QB hit in the first quarter on a blitz off the edge, but got a questionable flag for roughing the passer.
“Just overall good plan by the defensive staff,” said McDermott. “Coach Frazier made good adjustments. They had a good opening drive and then I thought we settled down on defense. This is a tough pill to swallow now because there were opportunities to win that game, but we’ve got to learn from it.”
Bush later cashed in with a successful sack on another blitz later in the opening quarter. Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde were also sent on delay blitz calls to get pressure.
The ploy showed enormous faith in Buffalo’s coverage abilities on the back end. Poyer got a hold of Ryan Tannehill’s arm as he threw to help force an incompletion to end a series. Micah Hyde also had a quarterback hit on a third down play to force a punt.
These pressures combined with Buffalo’s wins in one-on-one pass rush situations by Lorenzo Alexander and Trent Murphy for sacks helped make for a formidable pass rush by the Bills all afternoon.
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