It is time for some serious concern. The Bills were dominated on both sides of the ball in a 31-13 drubbing at the hands of the Eagles in windy, wet, cold and miserable New Era Field. The Bills and their fans seek respect but it is hard to insist on it and then see them play like they did Sunday, especially in the 2nd half when the game was on the line.
It is really hard to win games in the NFL when your offense can’t score more than 13 or 14 points. If the Bills defense has taken steps back off early season play, their offense better start scoring more if the Bills are to have any chance of winning consistently.
It was not a day to feature the passing attack and the team that ran the ball the best was likely to win. That team was the Eagles with over 200 yards on the ground to the Bills 98.
The one big 65 yard run by Miles Sanders was huge in that regard. Coming off a game against Miami where the Dolphins had good success on the ground against the Bills D, the Eagles followed it up with a punishing performance of their own. The Eagles seemed to use a lot of misdirection to get the Bills flowing one way on defense then hit them with cut back runs and screens to use the Bills’ quick reactions against them.
Of major concern to me is the Bills inability to get chunk plays on offense. With no big plays other than the Singletary dump off and with the run game stifled, they really seem to have almost nowhere to turn with their offense other than John Brown. Brown performed admirably, but the coverage was aggressive (to the point of multiple penalties, but there were none called).
There was a lot of Allen patting the ball, looking then tucking and running. Again one shot down the field to Foster was available but was under-thrown when it looked like the wind knocked it down, even though the wind appeared to be at their backs. I’m not saying the Bills should start throwing deep a lot but I’d like more intermediate throws in the 15-25 yard range.
The Bills actually held in there for the 1st half but the key play was Josh Allen’s fumble deep in Bills territory on a 3rd and 2 run. When the Eagles recovered, scored, made the 2 point conversion then came back with a 65 yard td run to open the 2nd half (after Hauschka’s missed 52 yard field goal ended the 1st half), the Bills went from up 7-3 to down 17-7.
I am starting to HATE called Josh Allen runs. His lack of ball security makes those runs dicey at best, especially deep in Bills territory.
Now for the things I liked and didn’t like (with a caveat, I went to the game and it is really hard to clearly see details of plays without tv replays). The things I liked:
- Corey Bojorquez did an excellent job punting given the wind conditions.
- I thought Matt Milano was flying all over the place making plays. He was, however, blown up on that long Sanders TD run. The fact that the defensive tackle was nowhere to be seen and there was a free runner straight at Milano didn’t help him any.
- Tyler Kroft caught his first pass as a Buffalo Bill.
- It only counts for 1 loss in the standings. There will be another game next week.
- The Bills got at least occasional pressure on QB Carson Wentz, but with the number of quick throws they made it didn’t help much this game.
- Tre White had a couple of nice pass break ups.
What I didn’t like:
- The Bills had no answers for Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. They basically ran amok all afternoon.
- I’ve not been happy with Star Lotuleiei’s play, nor Kyle Peko’s. Just too many gash plays with them in there. It’s a concern.
- The lack of running room for both Gore and Singletary.
- Josh Allen’s ball security. 3 fumbles and one key one lost. It was a game changer.
- The lack of tight end completions. It seemed like a day for them to be more involved.
- As is the case every week, the false starts/offsides penalties. They are drive killers (or drive enhancers for the opponent).
- Not enough Singletary and not used as creatively as I’d have liked.
- The lack of a good screen pass.
- The decision to make MacKenzie inactive. His threat of getting to the edge on a jet sweep, even against a defense as spread out as Philly’s was, still opens space for others. The Eagles did not have to respect any kind of speed on the outside.
- I was underwhelmed by Brian Daboll’s play calling all day plus another mediocre 1st quarter. It is now a pattern that this team does not start fast. Why? Why are the Bills always reacting to other teams and not making them react to the Bills? This offense is Jaronesque. That is NOT a compliment.
- There were thousands of Eagle fans at the game, perhaps up to 10,000. (including 3 truly obnoxious ones behind me). The two next to me, however, were nice and sociable.
This loss is not the end of the world or the season. It is, however, troublesome in that it reveals the large gulf that still separates the Bills from the better teams in the league. When the game was on the line the Eagles took it.
There can be no sugar coating it. Perhaps this Bills team is still a couple of drafts away as a lot of the starters are other team rejects, better than what the Bills had when the strip down of talent started but not good enough to beat the upper class in the NFL.
The fact that Wentz outplayed Allen on Sunday and that it was a key variable in the game cannot really be argued. The Bills’ lines on both side of the ball did not stand up to this major test. We’ll see what the Washington game brings. The Washington D line and Adrian Peterson will offer another tough test.
Editor’s babble: Thanks to Joe Tauriello for his bang-on contributions to our blog. You can find Joe on Twitter @Joe_Tauriello.