ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — Josh Allen was not afraid to call the win over the Giants ugly.
He acknowledged the offense has to be better. He pointed out slow starts the last two weeks have been a problem. It’s been costly and it’s something the Bills need to figure out.
Things could have easily been way worse.
Had the Bills lost to the Giants they’d be 3-3. The same record as the Zach Wilson Jets. It would be three losses already with games still left against the Eagles, Chiefs, Dolphins, Cowboys and Bengals. Forget the Super Bowl. There would have been a real discussion about whether the Bills would even make the (Jim Mora voice) PLAYOFFS?!?
Instead, Sunday night, the defense stood up late when it absolutely had to at the end. It’s a defense now filled with young players and new starters. With the game on the line, that’s where the Bills leaned to a disaster-avoiding win.
Taron Johnson finished it off with a plenty good 1-on-1 win against Darren Waller. Was it pass interference? Letter of the law, of course it was. However, where Johnson grabbed Waller mostly was immediately behind the line of scrimmage with Waller facing his quarterback. There’s no official in a good position to see that foul. Ever. There are lots of illegal things that happen immediately behind the defensive line. It’s just how the game goes now with the umpire moved to behind the quarterback.
I don’t want to hear any complaints from Giants fans Monday morning. They blew plenty of chances to win this game on their own. Can’t go 0 for a million in the red zone. Can’t have your QB just flat-out dropping a snap on the plus side of midfield. Can’t melt into a puddle mentally at the end of the first half. That ridiculous lack of awareness cost the Giants at least a field goal, if not a couple of shots at 7. The end of the game obviously plays out a whole lot different with any more New York points at the end of the half.
The Bills defense that is now led by the likes of Terrell Bernard, Christian Benford and rookie Dorian Williams won this game for Buffalo. I’m not sure how much credit each individual player deserves, but I do know Bernard and Williams both had double-digit tackles. I know Benford was on the business end of an important fourth quarter, fourth down stop.
The Bills held an NFL team to single-digit points. I know it’s the terrible Giants with a backup quarterback helping along the way, but you can’t ask any more from a defense. And that goes double for a squad that’s been shuttling players in and out of the lineup the last two weeks.
Dawson Knox and Josh Allen hinted at something Quintin Morris was willing to say–the Bills defense bailed their offense out. Buffalo’s alleged juggernaut of a scoring machine could barely get off the ground against one of the league’s worst defenses. Every other team the Giants played had 20 points on the board by the end of the third quarter. The Bills had zero.
The refrain was that the offense simply did not get into a rhythm. That’s not a reason. The only way to get into a rhythm is to succeed. To move the ball. It’s like saying, “Why didn’t we win? We didn’t score enough points.” It’s a non-reason.
So, we are left to theorize. Maybe the London trip caused extended jet lag. I know my week after has felt way worse than the weekend I was in England. But you can cross that one off the list. The other 12 teams that played the week after a London game are now 9-3 after Jacksonville handled Indy with ease.
Perhaps old friend Brian Daboll provided his defense with a cheat code from his lengthy experience coaching and building the Bills offense from the ground up. Allen thought the Giants played an excellent game and pointed out the current Buffalo offense is the same thing Big Blue spent over a month practicing against in training camp.
The problem with that idea is that the Bills offense has looked this way for three of their six games. The Jets and Jags don’t have insider knowledge. They flummoxed the Bills all the same. The external explanation would have to be the Jets D is really good, the Jags took advantage of trans-Atlantic wear and tear while the Giants had a unique coaching insight. It’s a tough needle to thread, but it’s possible.
That theory would have more legs if the whole offense was impotent for those three games. Stefon Diggs, however, has been quite unbothered regardless the opponent. His only game below 100 yards was against the Raiders. Two of his three games with TDs are against the Jets and Jags. His two 10-catch games are facing the New York teams.
It’s the lack of a supporting cast that continues to be the issue. James Cook was able to find some success running the ball in the second half and that helped open up the offense. This time.
The offensive line has been noticeably better and that might be an understatement. The Bills just don’t have anyone else among the skill positions that can win without being schemed into it. When the offense first ascended, the Bills had Diggs and Cole Beasley. A handful of plays a game, Allen would identify single coverage on Beasley, drop back and stare at him until he was open. That guy does not currently exist on this team.
I don’t have a solution. If I did, I’d be telling it to Sean McDermott and not talking to you right now. The drum beat for more operating under center is getting louder. I’m open to trying it, but I’ll tell you the under center success before this week has been driven by coincidental circumstances. Blown coverages that happened to occur when Allen started under center. I’m very interested to study the under center vs. shotgun results from this game.
When teams look at film to study for an opponent, they usually look back to the last four games. There’s no need to spend time in week ten watching film from week one because the teams are always much different. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence the Bills offensive struggles began in week five after opponents had a full four games of film to work from. Defenses seem to have digested what the Bills were trying to do with the short passing game early this year and discovered an answer. Now, Ken Dorsey must respond with his own adjustment.
Fortunately, the Bills have Allen and he continues to be a walking trump card. Two weeks after he pulled off what I thought was his best throw ever (the running right 30-yarder to Diggs in Washington), Allen may have reset the bar with the touchdown to Morris. To extend a play that long and throw across the body 25 yards to a player moving deeper down the field and to the inside is ridiculous by itself. To do all that between a trailing and closing defender is otherworldly.
Allen went 11 for 11 passing on the Bills two touchdown drives. He converted four third downs. When the offense needed saving, Allen was equal to the task. No matter the issues moving the ball, number 17 can always be the solution.
The goal is need to Hero Josh less. Allen said the Bills offense has been efficient before. He’s right. It was only two weeks ago the Bills dropped 48 on Miami.
However, we’ve also seen this version of the offense before. Josh, Stef or Die has been forced on the Bills plenty of times going back to last season. It’s not going to fly when Buffalo plays the likes of the Jets, Cowboys, Chiefs and Eagles.
The good news is the Bills don’t see those teams for a while. Next up is two games in five days against a Patriots defense Allen has owned lately and generally middling Tampa Bay side. There’s every reason to believe BillsMafia will go trick or treating with their team positioned nicely at 6-2.
Like I said, things could have been way worse.