The Bills Eye: Hughes, Murphy pace defensive resurgence

The Bills Report

Some good, some bad watching Bills 18, Jets 10 on the All-22 feed. No surprise there.

Here’s who stood out…

What Seemed To Go Right

Jerry Hughes was as good on film as he was on TV, just like Leslie Frazier said. He seemed to get better as the game went on. It felt like a shark smelling blood in the water. Not only was he active and disruptive in the pass rush, he was especially alert. Both his sacks came on plays where he recognized and/or anticipated a Sam Darnold scramble and got to the right spot to make a play. It’s not always about strength, speed or moves with getting to the quarterback. Hughes also had all of those working, but the plays he finished were just as much about smarts.

I liked the chemistry Hughes and Quinton Jefferson seemed to develop late in the game next to each other in the pass rush. Jefferson got a late pressure working a stunt with Hughes. I’d like to see Jefferson-Hughes remain the left side combo in pass rush situations with Ed Oliver-Mario Addison the right side combo.

Trent Murphy had a very underrated game. He had multiple plays bulldozing a Jets blocker backwards or even into the ball carrier. He also got some pressure on Darnold. He was the second best defensive end on the field in this game.

Trent Murphy tosses a Jets tight end at the pile during a first quarter run

There were many who believed Leslie Frazier should give up the reins calling defensive signals not too long ago, but he was brilliant in this one. In the first half, he called a similar safety blitz around the defensive left three consecutive pass rush plays and all three caused problems. In the second half, the Bills blitzed six of 14 pass rush snaps and each one was a new adventure from the last. The Jets are not a good pass blocking team. Even on the snaps where Darnold had time, Frazier still had the Jets O-line sideways.

Dane Jackson played a very solid game. The interception was nothing special, but he appeared to be doing his job properly. There were two coverage breakdowns on his side, but I’m not sure either were his fault. He was unafraid to stick his nose in stopping the run. I would not be overly hurried bringing back Josh Norman or Levi Wallace from injury.

The Bills offensive tackles were very good. I thought Dion Dawkins had a top notch game and Daryl Williams was just an iota below. Dawkins opened both sides of a hole that sprung Devin Singletary for 12 in the second quarter.

If there was Bill Belichick directed “Do Your Job” film about this game, Cole Beasley would have been the star.

What Seemed To Go Wrong

The Bills must be ecstatic to get Jon Feliciano back, because Ike Boettger had a rough day. The Jets had a ton of success running stunts his way in the passing game. He seemed slow reacting to most rushers in space. There were a couple good moments in the run game, but not many. Brian Winters was not much better.

Not Brian Daboll’s best day. The Isaiah McKenzie jet sweep was possibly a halftime decision/adjustment that just flat out didn’t work. The Bills had five second half drives that all stalled inside the Jets 25. On all five, the first down call that eventually led to a third down fail was a run. One run was for Josh Allen, but this offense needs more chances with the ball in Allen’s hands as a passer. Easier call in hindsight, for sure.

Hughes and Mario Addison both came into this season as right defensive ends. After some feeling out, it seems Addison is going to be the one to keep the spot. His reward on Sunday was a long afternoon facing Mekhi Becton. The Jets first round pick was not very impressive, but he did just about erase Addison from the pass game. Addison did win a rep late in the fourth quarter. The sack that officially was split between Matt Milano and Tre’Davious White should have also been shared with Addison.

The Josh Allen Report

No shockers here. The Jets defense spent the day dropping zone after zone deep and forcing Allen to attack the short areas. For the most part, Allen took what the defense gave him and moved the ball well between the 20’s.

On the final drive of the game, the Bills had a second down in a spot where running some clock would seem the play. Allen dropped back to pass and the Jets zone defenders were leaning a bit towards the short, safe, logical receiver running a flat route. Allen spotted it and quickly beat the Jets over the top on an 18 yard pass to Beasley. It was a good spot to be aggressive and proved he won’t be lulled to sleep by incessant reads that force him to stay conservative.

The play at the end of the first half was also genius. The Jets blitzed nickel corner Brian Poole a healthy amount and they brought him with seven seconds to go here. Allen and Beasley both recognized it and threw right at the blitz without hesitation. It’s a play that must be practiced and discussed to be executed that well. I was impressed how much both guys were on the same page.

Allen had his share of foolish force jobs. The last pass of the first drive to Gabriel Davis and the first throw of the second drive to Stefon Diggs were super fortunate not to be intercepted. He also tried an across the body 15-yard throw to Diggs on 3rd and 18 that was not only pointless, but had INT written all over it.

Allen was a bit more jittery in the pocket than usual. I had him vacating a clean pocket four times, a season high. Tyler Kroft’s lack of balance may have cost Allen a TD throw in the 4th quarter, but Allen missed Kroft on a pair of second half touchdown opportunities. Neither was a primary read, but both were there and Allen gave neither a look.

Odds and Ends

Quinnen Williams had a really good game for the Jets. Very active against both the pass and run. Kinda looked like a player who might just be starting to figure things out. There were rumors Tuesday the Jets might be trying to trade the former third overall pick. I’d want him.

Diggs is many things, but a good blocker is not one of them. He was the author of a Keystone Cops block in the third quarter. Singletary was running straight ahead and Diggs’ job was to get from his spot in the slot just outside the tackle to block Poole, who was a yard inside Diggs. At the snap, Poole came down in run support to fill the hole where Singletary was going. Diggs hustled inside and got a solid shot at Poole that sent him flying. However, Diggs finished his block standing in the hole blocking Singletary’s way. Not only did Singletary have no where to go, but Poole slammed into Boettger and bumped Boettger off Williams. It was Williams who made the tackle. The worst good block ever.

AJ Epenesa did not get many chances, but he did beat Becton on a couple different snaps. The first was the dual Murphy/Epenesa sack. Epenesa just bolted inside and seemed to stun Becton with his quicks. In the third quarter, Epenesa went outside and easily batted Becton’s hands away to get around the corner. Darnold had gotten the ball out, but another second and Epenesa may have been in.

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