Building on youth
It has taken three seasons, but Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane have finally filled the Bills’ roster with players with their DNA. MMQB’s Albert Breer has taken notice of how the improved roster has led to a 3-0 start.
I’m bullish on the job Bills GM Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott have done team-building, and it really does show up in the young core on a week-to-week basis. This week, 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year Tre’Davious White (two interceptions) and 2019 third-rounder Dawson Knox (first career TD, 49-yard catch on which he ran through two tacklers) were the ones illustrating it in the home opener against the Bengals. We’ll see who steps up next for 3-0 Buffalo, with the Patriots coming to town.
Keep your January open
ESPN’s Dan Graziano believes the Buffalo Bills will not only make the playoffs but it’s not an overaction to think that as well. Here’s what he wrote about the Bills heading into Week 4:
The verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION. Since 1990, 73.8% of teams that started the season 3-0 reached the playoffs. So, start right there. They have a much better chance of making the postseason at this point than missing it. And you don't have to believe they'll beat the Patriots next week in order to believe they can claim a wild-card spot in the AFC._
Look at the schedule. The Bills play Washington, Denver and the Jets at home. They have a road trip to Tennessee. They still get to play the Dolphins twice. We just got them to nine wins right there. Beat the Pats next week at home, and you have to fire up the playoff ticket printer in Buffalo for the second time in three years.
Buffalo has the best defense in football
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell states that it’s not surprising the Bills are 3-0 because they have the best defense in the entire NFL.
It's a testament to the coaching in Buffalo to see just how many players have come to town and improved on their established level of play. Castoffs like Jordan Phillips and Kevin Johnson have vital roles in this defense. Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer were both converted cornerbacks with short track records as starters when the Bills signed them to take over as their starting safeties in the spring of 2017. Now, they're one of the best safety duos in football, both for their ability as ballhawks and their ability to eliminate big plays. The Bills have allowed just nine pass plays of 30 yards or more since the start of 2018, four fewer than any other team in football.
They are stout at all levels of defense. They don't make stupid mistakes, and they take advantage when offenses make mistakes. It would be easy to play into the small-market story about how the Bills have a no-name defense and like it that way, but put that aside. This is a unit every bit as good as the teams we laud for great defense, and while they haven't played an incredibly difficult slate of opposing offenses this season, no defense in the league has had to shoulder a larger portion of its team's workload over the past year than the Bills.
Game balls for the entire defense
While grading every team from Week 3, John Breech from CBS Sports mentioned that every player on the defense deserves a game ball from their performance against the Bengals.
The Bills should give a game ball to every player on their defense, because they shut down the Bengals for nearly the entire game. Not only did the Bills force four key turnovers (two interceptions, two fumble recoveries), but they also limited Cincinnati to just 3 of 11 on third down conversions. Offensively, the Bengals had no answer for the oldest man on the field: Frank Gore. The 36-year-old averaged 5.43 yards per carry in a game where he totaled 76 yards and one TD on 14 carries. Josh Allen didn't make many mistakes -- he threw one interception -- and seems to be getting better by the week. If Allen continues to improve, the Bills offense could soon be as good as their defense.
NFL analyst Brian Baldinger appeared on the Howard and Jeremy show, presented by WGR 550 on Tuesday and is impressed with the Bills so far.
Here was his comment on Josh Allen.
Well, first of all, the guy plays with incredible poise. I mean, he never looks like he ever gets tired. Even that last drive when he's just running it and scrambling and the guy never fatigues. It's something that only the great athletes really have like Lebron James and Michael Jordan. He has that ability. I've never seen him get tired in a football game. He is a leader. People didn't think he could ever become a passer. Well, look, he's not ready to be Drew Brees yet. Right now he's making third down throws, he sees the field well, and for all those things, I think that we're seeing an unfinished product, but an improving product.
Baldinger credits John Brown and Cole Beasley for Allen’s overall improvement.
I mean it's important to get guys that can fit the system, Cole Beasley is a perfect fit for the system. On third downs he runs those routes and drives people crazy. He's just got great quickness and he knows how to separate. … John Brown has great speed as always. I mean that's why Bruce Arians drafted him in Arizona – that guy can fly. And he was good in Baltimore last year but he's, he's a good fit for this offense right now. And that speed is something that every quarterback loves.