There are positives from Bills’ win in NOLA, but big problems are still to be solved

Buffalo Bills

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – NOVEMBER 25: Dawson Knox #88 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates a win over New Orleans Saints with fans at Caesars Superdome on November 25, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WROC)— I’m not going to tell you that the Bills fixed all their problems in their Thanksgiving thrashing of the Saints. You’re not that hungover. Well… maybe you are.

The Bills did what they always do. They took a team with less talent (healthy) and made them appear as if they didn’t even belong in the NFL. They got ahead quickly with the offense. The defense was smothering and save for one fourth quarter touchdown, the Saints barely had time to come up for air.

As the Bills have proven lately, dominating wins like this should not be taken for granted. As Josh Allen said afterward, “winning in this league is hard”. After the last few weeks, I even think Allen now sees that statement as more reality than cliche.

The Bills’ last dominating road win against the Jets was followed by utter embarrassment at home against the Colts. There’s not a whole lot that happened in this win over New Orleans that suggests Buffalo will be any significantly more prepared for their gigantic showdown with the Patriots in two Mondays.

There were certainly positives in this win over the Saints. Matt Breida continues to impress. Another touchdown receiving and he averaged five yards per touch on 11 opportunities. I still don’t think Breda is a long-term offensive solution, but he’s certainly providing a spark. The Bills should ride that spark for as long as it’s providing heat.

Dawson’s Creek continues to run directly to the end zone. Knox’s two touchdowns on Turkey Day gave him the Bills franchise record for tight end touchdowns in a season with seven. And he still has six games to go. Sean McDermott joked after the game that he thought Knox’s breakout season was based on a change in hair products.

When told about that line, Knox asked incredulously ‘Did he really say that’? After a beat, Knox followed with ‘Do you think he’s jealous’? He could have been on stage at the Improv.

The Bills are always fun and games when they beat up on someone out of their class.

Ed Oliver finally got his sack this year, even if it went into the stats as a half-sack. There was still nothing halfway about how Oliver controlled a pretty decent Saints interior offensive line group.

I think we need to give Cody Ford some credit. Early in the game, I saw him working on the sideline with Jamil Douglas using his arm to create to pass protect. Ford played the second half after missing a few snaps early with an arm injury. He looked to be in some serious discomfort at times late in the game. Although the offensive line had some of its usual issues, it did not seem like Ford was at the heart of many of them. Regardless, that was a gutsy effort for a guy who’s had a rough season and has paid for it with his spot on the starting O-line.

All those positives still don’t address the big problems that have plagued the Bills the last few weeks. They didn’t face a physical team that can punch him in the mouth. At least not from what was left of the Saints. That New Orleans offense didn’t have near the talent the teams like Indianapolis and Tennessee did when they casually dropped 30-plus points on the stellar Bills defense.

The Buffalo problems this year are with teams that can fight in their division. No one knew that was not the case Thanksgiving night better than the Saints. Sean Payton was chasing the game with 4th down tries and fake punts almost from the first possession.

The Bills might even now have a new problem–Tre’Davious White. The Bills All-Pro corner left in the first half with a knee injury. He went into the blue tent and put his hands on his forehead as if he had just been given bad news. He walked from that tent to the locker room with a towel covering his face, his head down the whole way. There was no limp. There was no one providing assistance. In every way, it appeared Tre White was admitting that there was nothing anyone could do to fix whatever was wrong.

It’s no mystery that White would be a big loss for the Bills if he were to miss an extended period of time. This season, it might hurt even a little more. I think the Bills’ secondary has been the driver of the defensive success. Their coverage abilities and how well they work together are unmatched around the league.

I believe in Dane Jackson. I think he can play in the NFL and play at a fairly high level. He’s still too inconsistent. It’s why Levi Wallace won the second corner job in training camp. Jackson doesn’t have the same kind of knowledge and chemistry with the other four guys that make up the primary part of the Bills pass defense. That secondary would still be very good, but it would be a lesser group and, therefore, a lesser defense.

Josh Allen has not played at a level this year that makes it appear like he could overcome a defense that allows 30 points to the teams Buffalo will see in January and February. Allen spent the last few weeks talking about how you must protect the ball. Yet, he had two more turnovers against the Saints. That’s now eight in the last four games. You can count on Bill Belichick’s crew to be much more punishing if Allen turns it over two more times on Monday night.

It’s weird to think that a 25-point win would not Inspire confidence in a football team’s ability to win the following week. However, the Bills have already proven to be the team that cried wolf in that department.

The problems Buffalo has still need to be addressed. I’m not sure if Breida and Spencer Brown and, potentially, Jackson will be enough. Counting on a third round rookie and a player that couldn’t even earn his way into a helmet most Sundays to soothe what ails isn’t the formula for a championship-winning team.

Give this Bills team credit for making sure that last week’s loss in Indianapolis didn’t turn into a bigger Thanksgiving disaster. They handled their business. It’s definitely something they’re good at.

Bills Mafia can still think of Black Friday as a term that refers to bargains for TVs. Enjoy your weekend without having to worry about the Bills. We’ll find out if this team’s problems have been fixed some other time.

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