1 – Big plays hurt early
The Bills defense did not give up many big plays at all in Sunday’s game against the Packers, but there was one on each of Green Bay’s first two scoring drives. On a 3rd-and-4 from midfield, Aaron Rodgers found Ty Montgomery deep down the left sideline for a 43-yard pass play. Three plays later the Packers were in the end zone.
On Green Bay’s second scoring drive, the defense surrendered a 30-yard run to Aaron Jones, which moved the Packers from their own 31 to the Bills 39-yard line. Jones also caught a 17-yard pass on the drive and he also eventually found the end zone on a three-yard run to cap that drive.
“I thought in the first quarter we let the quarterback get into a rhythm back there,” said head coach Sean McDermott. “I thought we made proper adjustments defensively and did some good things. Guys were playing hard and just too many third and short situations with Aaron (Rodgers). A good quarterback is going to kill you in those situations.”
Those early scoring drives by the Packers put the Bills in a 13-0 hole just three minutes into the second quarter and they were unable to recover.
“I think the effort is there. It comes down to execution,” said Kyle Williams. “Rodgers did what he does. He put them in a lot of different plays. He put them in a lot of different situations and capitalized on it. When it comes down to that we can’t let one big play lead to another and lead to another.”
2 – Bills ‘D’ still posts takeaways
Buffalo’s defense may not have been able to duplicate the pass rush success they enjoyed last week at Minnesota, but they did still manufacture turnovers. Tremaine Edmunds used his long wingspan to tip an Aaron Rodgers pass over the middle and Jordan Poyer ran under it for an interception.
“They tried to run a counter pass that we’ve seen quite a bit, and Tremaine had a great read on it and was able to get a hand on it,” said Poyer. “We always talk about tips and being able to make plays on the football.”
In the second half, Taron Johnson on a blitz sacked Aaron Rodgers to force a fumble that was recovered by Kyle Williams.
“I thought we were playing hard all four quarters,” said Poyer. “We weren’t able to get the ball back to our offense in better field position. That’s one thing we want to do, and we also want to take it away and score ourselves.”
“We didn’t capitalize on the opportunities that we had,” said Allen. “Our defense played fantastic, but we have to be better on the offensive side of the ball.”
Unfortunately, the Bills were not able to turn those takeaways into points. Last week Buffalo scored 10 points off turnovers. In Green Bay they came up empty.
3 – Offense stuck in neutral
When you have a rookie quarterback who is learning on the fly there are going to be ups and downs. Week 3 there were a lot of ups. Week 4 brought some downs. Josh Allen was hesitant at times when he dropped back to pass and found himself under a world of pass pressure, but that pressure was magnified by the lack of running game.
“In a perfect world you would want the run game to be 10 yards a carry, but that’s football,” said Allen. “They knew what they wanted to do. We’ve got to be better executing. We’ve got to be better, myself getting the ball out on time when it needs to be. I’ve got to help the running game, whether it’s quick passes that gets them backed off a little bit enabling us to run the ball. I’ve got to be better in all aspects. This is going to be a learning experience and we’ll be better as an offense.”
Whether Allen was hurried or held onto the ball too long, it led to some errant throws and a general inability on the part of Buffalo’s offense to string positive plays together. Allen was sacked seven times, which often put the Bills in long down and distance.
“I thought first and foremost credit the Packers, they had a good plan. It kept us off balance a little bit offensively,” said McDermott. “We were out of rhythm on offense and needed to find some consistency. We’d make a good play and then have a no gain or a negative play. And you can’t do that in this environment against a good football team.”
On four of their first six possessions the Bills went three and out as they managed just 82 total net yards of offense by halftime. Allen threw a pair of interceptions and lost a fumble in the contest, but the run game also proved to be a trouble spot.
Even with LeSean McCoy’s return to the lineup Sunday, the ground game managed just 58 yards on the ground and averaged 3.6 yards per carry. McCoy didn’t have many chances because for the third game this season in which he has played, the Bills were down early.
“I didn’t play well. (I felt) a little rusty. I had five carries. That’s not what I’m used to, but that’s how the games have been going when I’ve been out there,” he said. “We were up and down and just didn’t get it done. Simple as that.”