No way this group was going to let another letdown happen

Buffalo Bills

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (WROC) — Whatever the message was from Sean McDermott this week after the embarrassing loss in Jacksonville, there was not a single member of the Bills organization who did not hear it.

Or take it to heart.

This team top-to-bottom was 100% ready for a dominating, bounce back win. That’s exactly what they got and almost every single person had a part in it.

McDermott credited the team leadership for helping to make it happen. One of the big advantages for Buffalo is they have a thousand team leaders. There aren’t just two or three captains on each side of the ball that make sure guys are taking care of their responsibilities and doing what they’re supposed to do.

When the Bills got humiliated last week in Jacksonville, Mitch Morse said players had to look inward. Every single member of this organization had no problem doing that. They were all motivated to make sure the upset didn’t happen again.

There aren’t many free agents in Buffalo for a paycheck or rookies still trying to find their place in the NFL. These are mostly seasoned pros who have been with the Bills multiple years. I think guys are much more willing to do that when they’re trying to fix something they had a hand in building.

And, boy did everybody have a hand in this 45-17 win over the Jets.

It is unbelievable to think that the Bills had five different players force turnovers, three different running backs score touchdowns and two different receivers get over a hundred yards. I don’t have to dive into my Pro Football Reference search tool to figure out that’s never happened in the NFL before.

Guys who didn’t play much like A.J. Klein and Matt Brieda had big roles in this game. Depth guys like Efe Obada and Gabriel Davis made big plays. Stars played like stars. Stefon Diggs almost scored the end of the first half touchdown by himself. The football bag probably went back on the plane as an empty sack because so many guys deserved a game ball.

I hope the Bills secondary get some notoriety after this amazing game. Each starter getting a turnover underscores how good and how dominant they’ve been this year. To me, they’ve been the driver of the Bills defensive success. The talent of Tre White, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer has long been undeniable but Taron Johnson and Levi Wallace are quickly ascending toward that level.

More important is the experience and cohesiveness they’ve built together. This is their fourth year not only playing together, but also in the same system. It’s an ungodly advantage that most NFL teams probably can’t even imagine. At least, not since great defenses of the 80’s before free agency and player movement was a much more common thing. In a league where the rules are built to get receivers open, this secondary takes away options like none other.

If they had a catchy nickname or played in a city where everyone makes plane connections, they’d be an NFL headliner. (I will get to work on the former, at least)

Matt Breida certainly gave the Bills a spark in their running game. Sean McDermott was right when he said exactly that. Morse was also accurate about something else. “It’s just one game.”

The Jets are one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, so 123 yards on 20 carries isn’t anything that will transform Buffalo’s running game into something that should be feared. It was still certainly a good step.

Although Brieda scored two touchdowns on just six touches, I’m not going to tell you that he’s the solution that will make Buffalo run the ball like the Electric Company 2.0. There’s a reason it took 10 weeks to give him a shot and why he’s on his third team in three years. I do know one thing. He damn well deserves another chance to play next week.

The end of the first half drive was the turning point in this game for me. It was only 10-3 at that point with just two minutes to go in the first half. The Bills offense had stuttered a bit after a strong start. That’s when Diggs made things happen.

The Bills are loaded with B+ and A- players. Professionals who are really, really good at their job, but aren’t superstars. Diggs is one of the few no-brainer A+ players. I don’t think he’s been used as such a lot this year. Josh Allen rightly says that the open man is where the throw should go. At the end of the first half, Diggs became the open man, no matter what. I loved that the Bills went at Diggs twice in a row 1-on-1 in the red zone. That’s a mentality I think they need to have more often.

I think this week was a good example of one of the Bills’ best qualities. They care about each other probably like no other team in the NFL. You heard it when McDermott talked about Isaiah McKenzie after the game. About understanding what Mackenzie had been through as a child and what it took for him to get where he is now. And why McDermott was so proud to see Mackenzie contribute as he has the last couple years with the Bills.

“You love when you see a person like that have success,” McDermott said. “He’s part of the reason why we are who we are.”

So many guys have been a part of this team for so long, it’s become more than a job. Calling it a ‘family’ might be a bit too far in the direction of a Wednesday afternoon Hallmark movie, but being a Buffalo Bill is something important.

When players and coaches are that invested in something–not just because they getting a paycheck or not because some coach tells them to–they won’t let it fail. That’s why the Bills rarely lose stupid games to bad teams and why the Jacksonville loss last week was all the more stunning.

It’s also why this Bills team is probably going to be pretty good for a pretty long time. When the head coach wants changes or wants focus, it happens. Not because the coach says so, but because everyone cares.

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