It’s back to the drawing board for the Buffalo Bills.
After a 4-0 start fueled by a high-powered offense, the Bills have now dropped back-to-back games before a prime-time audience. Buffalo looked anything but the heir-apparent to the New England Patriots in the AFC East.
Hosting Kansas City Monday night at Bills Stadium, the Bills dropped a 26-17 final in a contest that was not nearly as close as the final score indicates.
The Chiefs turned to their ground game, and punctured the Buffalo defense to the tune of 245 rushing yards.
Bills head coach, Sean McDermott, after Monday’s loss: “We’ve got to look at our football team, and be truthful with ourselves, and say what do we have to get corrected.”
What needs correction? Read the five takeaways after Monday’s game:
For much of Monday’s game, Allen was under the 50 percent completion mark, and he missed open receivers a la his rookie season. There may have been a bad read or two, but it looked like Allen’s mechanics were off. His misfires – including his late-game interception – he was backing up, throwing off his back foot, or was a half-second late releasing the ball.
Some quarterbacks are just gifted at throwing the ball from any position (Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes to name two). Allen is not one of those guys. Allen has a missile for an arm, and when his footwork is good, he can squeeze the ball into any tight window. That said, when the footwork is off, Allen’s accuracy is akin to a backup JV quarterback.
Singletary is not a franchise running back
The second-year product has elusiveness and some initial quickness at the point of attack, but he’s a step slower than your prototypical tailback.
The metrics do not lie. Singletary’s 40-yard time in last year’s combine was 4.66 seconds. As a comparison, the Titans’ Derrick Henry – who is eight inches taller and 40 pounds heavier than Singletary – ran a 4.54 40-yard time in his combine.
Rookie running back Zack Moss isn’t much better. Singletary’s backup, ran a 4.65 40 in his combine, which was the fourth slowest out of 28 backs at this year’s NFL combine.
Singletary is good at making the first person miss, but he lacks the burst or explosion that yields chunk runs.
Based on his 40 times at his Alabama pro day and the NFL combines, third-string back T.J. Yeldon offers a better overall option.
Yeldon, to me, is vastly underutilized. He’s bigger, faster, and a better pass receiver than Singletary or Moss. Given the anemic nature of the Buffalo running game, perhaps Yeldon should see more game-day touches.
Let’s just say it: The Bills’ defense is bad
Buffalo’s has yet to put together a complete defensive performance. In fact, other than the opening half against the Jets, little has gone right for the Buffalo on that side of the ball.
Sure, incumbent starters such as Tre White, Matt Milano, and Tremaine Edmunds have missed some time, but those absences do not explain the severe dropoff from last year to this year.
The Bills rank in the bottom 10 of the NFL in total yards allowed and are giving up 86 more yards per game than last season. They’re also not helping with the turnover battle.
Through six games, the Bills have recorded just two interceptions, and forced seven total turnovers. Worse than that is the third-down defense
Overall, Buffalo is 30th out of 32 teams in third-down defense, and it is worst in the NFL over the last three weeks allowing opponents to convert 60.5 percent of their third down opportunities.
If you’re thinking, “wow, the Bills can’t seem to make a big stop,” you’re absolutely right.
To start 2018, and obviously in rebuild mode, Buffalo allowed 78 total points in losses to the Ravens and Chargers. At that point, McDermott took over the defensive play-calling from coordinator Leslie Frazier. Going forward, largely, the Bills played stern defense finishing second overall in the NFL.
McDermott eventually ceded defensive play-calling back to defensive coordinator Frazier, and for nearly two years, Frazier has had the Buffalo defense humming.
As consistently bad as the Buffalo defense has played, McDermott may want to temporarily return to calling the defense.
Defense isn’t playing physical – or smart
The Chiefs, not known at all as a physical running team, bulldozed the Buffalo front four creating huge running lanes for their running backs.
Give Kansas City some credit for its motion, play calls, and scheme, but the Bills never did adjust. Except for late-game situations where Buffalo was prepared for a KC run, the Buffalo front seven was confused and outmuscled.
We also saw some uncharacteristically dumb penalties from a usually heady defense. White was called for a late hit when he shoved a KC receiver out of bounds. No, it wasn’t a bang-bang play, either. White hit the Kansas City player at least three or four yards out of bounds.
On the same drive, Buffalo safety Jordan Poyer was flagged with an unnecessary roughness call after rag-dolling KC running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was already out of bounds.
Paraphrasing McDermott in his post-game comments, he summed up that there is no room for that, and we’re more disciplined than that.
Oh, and an after-thought in Buffalo’s woes is the absence of a consistent pass rush. Like nearly every other defensive stat, Buffalo is in the bottom-half of the league in total sacks.
Likely the Bills are better than this, but the game film does not lie.
Special teams are getting better
Returner Andre Roberts popped a nice punt return Monday, kicker Tyler Bass made his longest field goal of the season connecting from 48 (although he missed badly from 52), and punter Corey Bojorquez is playing out of his mind.
Bojorquez has the NFL’s longest punt this season, and he’s averaging 50.8 yards per kick this season – third in the NFL. He’s also consistently flipping field position with more than half his punts ending up inside the opponent’s 20.
Virtually zero big plays from the receivers
The last two weeks, Buffalo has had little more than a possession- to medium-range passing game. John Brown had zero catches again – although he did draw a pass interference. Meanwhile, Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley are helping move the chains with 8- to 12-yard plays but nothing much else.
And the fourth wideout, Gabriel Davis, is averaging only three targets a game. That stat seems almost criminal as he will catch virtually anything in his zip code.
The Chiefs’ defensive scheme was geared to stop the big play, but Allen is not taking many shots. Provided he doesn’t overthrow his target by 10 yards, good things have happened when Buffalo goes deep. That comes in in either a defensive penalty, or a nice completion.
And what about the tight ends? Let’s just say, tight ends are not an integral part of a Buffalo offensive game plan. Through six games, the four Buffalo tight ends have a combined 14 catches.
Not a lot of good news coming out of Buffalo, but things are looking up. Buffalo clashes with the winless Jets this Sunay.
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