Some reactions after reviewing the Bills’ demolition of the Broncos…
The Josh Allen Report
Normally, I start with “What seemed to go right”. In this game, nothing went more right than Josh Allen. He was fantastic from start to finish. I thought it was, arguably, the best game of his career.
There was plenty of the physical dominance. A 24 yard TD run like an antelope galloping through a wide open savannah. A laser beam touchdown throw between safeties to Jake Kumerow that left heat trails like Marty McFly heading back to 1985. By the way, check out the very interesting and educational breakdown from Dan Orlovsky about why Brian Daboll deserves plenty of kudos for that play.
Allen had a few pressure situations where he had likely had to throw the ball a bit earlier than expected and still put passes right on the money. Right off the bat on the first drive, Allen is letting loose to Stefon Diggs in tight coverage before Diggs even turns. There might be a little bit of hoping this works out, but the throw is high and to the sideline. Even if the communication and the read isn’t perfect, Diggs is the only one with a shot to catch the ball.
There’s more. I loved a ton of what Allen did against the blitz. Early in the third quarter, the Broncos got a free run with a corner. Allen just sat there like it was a Wednesday rep against air and waited for Cole Beasley to make his cut. It helps that any blitzer, as the Broncos DB did on this play, must slow a bit to avoid Allen making a move and shaking away from him. Regardless, Allen calmly got a pass over the leaping blitzer and hit Beasley in stride for a first down.
It wasn’t just after the snap. On a third and 4 near the goal line, Allen appears to be pointing at Bradley Chubb and making a pass protection adjustment. Dion Dawkins seems to acknowledge him with a thumbs up. Dawkins ignores Chubb and blocks a blitzing linebacker to the inside. It’s Allen’s responsibility to get the ball out before Chubb gets home. He does that on a short pass to Diggs. This was the drive that ended on the Zack Moss 4th down stop, but it’s still a very positive play.
The last two paragraphs are me taking forays inside Allen’s brain. I may be right, but they can’t be considered anything above educated guesses. I can show you a more obvious and, perhaps, physical piece of evidence from Allen, the thinker. In the 4th quarter, the Broncos brought a nickel blitz and left Beasley one on one with safety Kareem Jackson. Beasley is open with a slant route off the line, but the Bills hit with this play in the first half and linebacker Josey Jewell is ready. He starts leaning to cut off the passing lane. Allen pumps once quick to chase Jewell to that passing lane. Then, Allen calmly re-cocks and connects with Beasley over the middle where Jewell used to be. I’m not sure if the pump fake is a reaction to the linebacker or intentional to move him. Either way, it worked brilliantly.
On top of all that, Allen tossed a pair of perfect rainbow throws to Diggs. The first was half a step out of bounds, but the second was the 50-yarder on the first possession after the Jerry Hughes TD. It’s a throw that Allen hasn’t needed (or succeeded a ton with) this season because the short to intermediate plays are plenty good. These two, however, were picture perfect and they were into pretty good coverage. They had to be perfect.
Allen, against the Broncos, was a QB at the top of his and darn near impossible to stop.
What (Else) Seemed To Go Right
I really liked Zack Moss‘ game. On the fourth quarter drive where the Bills chewed nearly eight minutes of clock, Moss started with a quick cut and a strong finish to get nine yards. He later converted a third and nine on a draw by being patient and reading blocks a bit more. He also had an excellent cut block on a blitz pickup in the first half. I’m not going to campaign for less Devin Singletary, but Moss showed a variety of high level skills.
Daryl Williams had a very solid game before leaving in the third quarter with a groin injury. He didn’t face Chubb too much, but won the reps he did have against the Broncos top pass rusher.
Vernon Butler was pretty good. Again. He was the catalyst on a second quarter three and out for Denver. His penetration on second down slowed a Melvin Gordon run until friends could arrive. On third down, he barreled in scot free to force an uncomfortable Drew Lock throw that went incomplete. This was a continuation of recent good play for Butler.
I thought Tre White had one of his better games beyond the pass covering stuff. He flashed in run support on a pair of plays in the second half. The Hughes fumble was also a result of White’s determined blitz. He’s deceptively quick on blitzes. It would be a good idea to use him more, were it not for the whole lock down corner thing.
Matt Milano had his best game since getting hurt. He’s an excellent blitzer and showed it on a couple of occasions. His open field tackling was also high level.
What Seemed To Go Wrong
Tremaine Edmunds was fine. He wasn’t bad, but there were multiple plays which made me think “this is what gets you in the Pro Bowl??” Edmunds has turned it around after a slow start, but I don’t think he’s really been close to last year’s “Pro Bowl alternate” level of play, let alone actually getting into the all-star game. So, he makes this category only unfairly based on Pro Bowl expectations.
Jon Feliciano is another semi-reach for What Seemed To Go Wrong. There were multiple blocks I really liked from Feliciano in this game, but he also allowed a team high five pressures. Feliciano will play well for most of a game, but have one pass protection where he’s the barn door swinging open. Usually, it’s only the one bad snap, but this game featured five.
Odds and Ends
The Bills mostly did a good job of neutralizing Chubb. In the first quarter Dawkins drove Chubb backwards off the ball seven yards. Chubb did have some dangerous looking moments in the second and third quarters, but nothing that disrupted the Bills offense (obviously). It was the second game in a row where the Bills weren’t decimated by an elite pass rusher (T.J. Watt).
Ty Nsekhe was a concern when he first came into the game. On at least two occasions, he got off the ball a full beat slow and was causing the Bills problems. He rallied later and hit the key block to spring Singletary’s 51 yard TD.
The Hughes touchdown return was pretty funny to watch. First of all, Hughes 100% stole a TD from Taron Johnson. Of course, Johnson already has one. So, that sounds fair to me. There’s a lot of standing around and unsure movements from both teams on this play. That includes Lock staying on the ground for nearly five seconds during the play.
Hughes finally gets free because lackluster blocks by most of his teammates leave all of the Bills closer to the sideline than all of the Broncos. When Hughes makes a move back to the outside, he’s got a wall of white jerseys to run behind. In Denver, everything was working for the Bills. Even 32 year-old defensive ends masquerading as Barry Sanders.