The Rockpile Review – by Shaw66
“Preseason is Over”
Memo to Buffalo Bills: The preseason schedule is FOUR games, not SIX.
The Bills rolled over the Minnesota Vikings 27-6 on Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis. Just like their 31-20 loss to the Chargers the week before, the Bills’ win wasn’t as close as the score. Buffalo’s defense dominated the Vikings from start to finish, allowing only one garbage-time touchdown.
The question, of course, is where has this defense been? The Bills’ defense looked good at times last season and figured to be better this season. Then the season opened in Baltimore, and “better” wasn’t the word that came to mind. Nor did “not bad.” Not even “there’s work to be done on the defense.” The only words to be said were “what in the world is going on with the defense?”
The first half against the Chargers in Buffalo was no better. The Chargers put up 28 quick points and the game was over. The Bills’ defense played the Chargers tough in the second half, but it was hard to say whether that performance meant the defense finally had come alive or simply that the Chargers dialed the offense back and cruised to the win.
Against the Vikings, there were no questions. The Bills defense dominated the Vikings. Period. Coming into the game, the Vikings were seventh in the league in yards and ninth in points. In the first half against the Bills, they were last and last. And don’t believe the press, who immediately attributed the outcome to the Vikings being flat – that’s just the press refusing to believe last season, refusing to believe the Bills could be good. The Bills dominated the Vikings. Just ask Cousins.
What changed? The Bills were stout against the run, as they’d been in the previous two games. It was the pass defense that changed. The pass rush woke up, especially Jerry Hughes, with a sack, a forced fumble, and several pressures.
What changed? The back seven stopped watching and started attacking. The Vikings receivers were challenged all day, fighting for 50-50 balls and getting hit as the ball arrived. The Bills had done their film study, and they were prepared. They ran to the ball and they made tackles.
Mike Milano stood out, with an interception, a fumble recovery, a sack and some nice tackles.
Tre White looked like an elite corner.
Tremaine Edmunds is learning. On Sunday, he was IN plays, instead of AROUND plays. He was there on Milano’s interception. He made tackles in the open field. He plugged holes and he defended well. He wasn’t a force, not yet, but ten tackles is nothing to sneeze at. If he continues to learn, he can be an important part of great defense.
On offense, there is only one story in 2018: Josh Allen. The media continue to follow the script: Allen is raw, Allen is inaccurate, Allen is, is, well, Allen is a Buffalo Bill and can’t possibly be any good.
They should forget the script and watch the guy play. He’s special, and he doesn’t play like a rookie. (Except when he got sacked and fumbled. OMG, kid, you can’t DO that!)
The highlights show Allen’s touchdown and his amazing hurdle of a tackler to get a big first down, but the real highlights are his pocket presence and his throws. The guy can play. Eventually, the rest of the country will catch on.
Allen is doing it with a clearly substandard receiving corps. Clay had one of his characteristic drops, Benjamin continued to disappoint, and Foster couldn’t haul in the best deep ball we’ve seen Allen throw. Andre Holmes may be emerging as Allen’s go-to guy, and Jason Croom could become a weapon.
What happened to the offensive line? Nothing, or at least nothing much. The offensive line simply isn’t as bad as so many people would like to think it is. There isn’t that much difference, talent-wise, among all but the very best linemen in the league.
Most teams have a collection of linemen who are less than lights out, and the Bills are no different. They will look bad at times, but if they’re properly coached, they will do their jobs well enough for the offense to make plays. We saw it on Sunday. And as Allen improves and the passing game opens up, the line play will get easier, and the running game will improve, too.
Man, that was fun!
I went to a wedding in Portland, Maine on Saturday and on the way home stopped at the Harp, the Bills Backer bar in Boston. It was the first time I’d been there, but it won’t be the last. Nothing like sitting in the shadow of the TD Boston Garden, in the heart of Patriots territory, in a sports bar filled with Bills fans, with 90% of the TVs tuned to the Bills game. They have a DJ who plays great rock during the commercials and plays the entire “Shout” song after each score. Everyone sings along. What a great venue! Thanks to the Bills Backers.
The Rockpile Review is written to share the passion we have for the Buffalo Bills. That passion was born in the Rockpile; its parents were everyday people of western New York who translated their dedication to a full day’s hard work and simple pleasures into love for a pro football team.
Editor’s babble: What a game! Thanks to Mark Korber for sharing his Rockpile Review as part of our BillsMafia blog. You can’t find Mark on Twitter or any other social media I’m aware of, so be sure to look for his takes here.