JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WROC) — This wasn’t just some unlucky afternoon for the Bills.
This wasn’t the Jags getting three or four weird bounces and having everything go their way. The Bills just flat out got beat. Physically and on the scoreboard.
The Jags really should have won by more. Jamal Agnew dropped a sure touchdown. Jacksonville had one of the weirdest hat tricks in sports when kicker Matthew Wright missed three consecutive tries on essentially the same field goal. The Jags were even the team with the most important player sitting out injured in running back James Robinson.
Give credit to Urban Meyer. His team was more ready. His coaches had a better game plan. The Jags attacked on defense. They dictated. All three of Josh Allen’s turnovers were forced by pressure. Not a deflection. Not something crazy. Just bad decisions and bad football.
The better team on this day won.
This defeat is something that’s been building for a while. Buffalo beat the Dolphins by 15 last week, but escaped a muffed punt in their own end zone, had a single fingertip block of a short Miami field goal and, up six in the fourth quarter, survived an Allen pitch to nowhere. This Jags loss could have easily happened last week.
A shocking loss like this never has just one reason and the failure of the Bills offense was wide-ranging. You can start with Allen. The crazy hero plays have always been a big part of his repertoire. No football coach would ever teach them to a young quarterback, but the Bills have benefited far more often than not. It was probably only a matter of time before Allen got bit trying to do too much and this was it.
The penalties were a monster problem, but no way is this an excuse for the Bills. Sean McDermott said afterward the Bills knew that this crew called more taunting flags than any other in the league. They should have been ready for a game where every little thing was going to be 15 yards.
The biggest surprise to me was the offensive line. I’ve always complimented Brandon Beane and the Bills’ ability to have quality depth up front. I thought that was still going to be true against the Jags. It’s not like the Bills trotted out brand new rookies to sub for the two injured starters. Cody Ford and Ike Boettger have had success at times. It’s not fair to say the issues were all on them because Daryl Williams and Dion Dawkins each took turns playing the swinging door, but the group with Ford and Boettger was not nearly good enough. It ruined Allen for the day.
“When you don’t give your quarterback time early, even when the pocket is clean (later), you still feel someone breathing down your neck,” Mitch Morse explained. “It’s just human nature.”
The worry going forward is that this isn’t the last time we might see the Bills’ offense look like this. I think six points is a safe bet to never happen again, but the days of weekly video game numbers might be gone for a while.
Allen has looked confused and unsure early in the last three games. The first read is rarely there and neither have the big plays. After spending an entire evening in Kansas City throwing the ball over the Chiefs’ heads, Buffalo has only one pass play over 30 yards since that game. Against the Titans and the Dolphins, the Bills were able to find enough answers to score a respectable amount of points. Not against the Jaguars.
The Bills can’t run the ball with their running backs. Prevent the deep pass and this Bills offense will struggle a bit. As the Jags proved, if you can also force a few turnovers along the way, you can keep this offense out of the end zone.
Jacksonville isn’t some wild inventive team that’s going to come up with something brand new to surprise the Bills. You can bet that they’ve built their defensive game plan upon what teams like the Dolphins and Titans did that was effective against the Bills the last few weeks. How many other teams on the Bills schedule are going to look at what the Jaguars did against the Buffalo and think, ‘We should try this. And we can do it with players that have talent’.
The Bills are a flawed team right now. That doesn’t mean they’re bad or can’t win a Super Bowl. It just means they’re the same as almost every other team in the NFL with things to improve.
This loss to the Jags is not an aberration. This is who the Bills are. At least for now.