Sean McDermott preaches playing complimentary football, offense, defense and special teams. On Sunday they played complimentary football but in reverse. All 3 phases of the game contributed to what was a tough, bitter, ugly loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Whatever needed to be done to lose the game they did. Miss 2 field goals. Check. Get gashed on the ground. Check. Have a helter-skelter offense with no fluidity or continuity. Check. Commit 3 offensive holding penalties in the 2nd half when the game is on the line. Check. Give up chunk yards on defense when a stop wins the game. Check. Play sissy ball offense with over 40 seconds on the clock in Browns territory, playing for the field goal rather than going for the win. Check. Huddling up as the clock runs down then throwing up a prayer play. Check. Missing open receivers on shots down the field. Check. My goodness that was exasperating. Does this look like a playoff team to you? It doesn’t to me. Fortunately next week could be a completely different story (or not, who knows).
Now for what I liked:
- Robert Foster caught a pass. And it wasn’t on a go route. Of course he wasn’t heard from again.
- The goal line defense. It stunk all the way down the field until the goal line but stopping a team 8 times inside the 2 is pretty amazing. It was the only thing keeping them in the game in the 1st half.
- Corey Bojorquez’s punting. The 59 yarder in the first half was his best of the season.
- The safety. Nice play call. Nice rush by Edmunds.
- John Brown with another very steady, productive game and Cole Beasley made some plays as well. They are in desperate need of a 3rd receiving option they can use with regularity. The smurfs with McKenzie and Roberts just are not good enough as receivers and between those 2 plus Duke Williams and Robert Foster, it’s like the box of misfit toys. They have lots of component parts but don’t function well because you can’t combine them.
- They are still 6-3. If you had told me that in August, I’d have been ok with it.
- Josh Allen made some good throws when he had time and had no interceptions. His TD run was well blocked and executed.
- The nice Andre Roberts punt return to set up the 2nd touchdown.
What I didn’t like:
- The offense, conceptually, seems schizophrenic. Devin Singletary goes M.I.A. for long stretches. So many pass plays look like they are throw it and hope specials but then every once in a while it looks fluid and smooth and like a pro attack. The personnel groupings are dizzying but to seem to me to be a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. What is this offense? What is it’s identity? Every week it looks like they are throwing something on the wall and hoping it sticks.
- The first quarter offense: 12 yards on 7 plays. One pass interference call gave them their only chunk play.
- The offensive line struggled to give Allen time quite a bit. Lots of free runners immediately coming at the QB. Some of that may well be on Josh if they are bringing more than the line can block and he’s not getting it out quickly or accurately or on the receivers if they aren’t getting open quickly vs man coverage.
- Overthrowing a wide open McKenzie. It’s the NFL. That throw has to be made.
- Holding penalties on Ford, Smith and Dawkins in the 2nd half.
- How clueless the Bills look on defense against the run. My goodness, there are just gaping holes over and over again. It got straightened out a little in the 2nd half until the Browns went back to it on the final drive for a 25 yard gain.
- Levi Wallace’s coverage throughout the game wasn’t firm. He was close to breakups but just didn’t get it done. The pass to Landry inside the Bills 10 on the last drive was a beautiful throw but he literally needed to stick his hand out. He is definitely getting picked on.
- No forced turnovers. That WAS a forward pass by the rules of the game on the Jerry Hughes play but Tre White (who was otherwise very steady) dropped one that could have been a difference maker.
- The tipped ball on the screen to Singletary on the last drive may well have been the biggest play of the game. I thought he had oceans of room to run as no one seemed to be near him. It would have set them up in field goal range for sure and perhaps more. After that it was a hodgepodge of rushed plays no seeming focus followed by huddling and playing for the field goal. Ugh. After 2 successive successful plays the Bills had the Browns back on their heels but the Bills went away from the no huddle and let the Browns collect their thoughts.. As soon as they stopped, the pressure defense came out.
- Has anyone figured out what Tyler Kroft’s role in this offense is? I haven’t.
- Very little pass rush unless they blitz. It is a screaming need for next year. Mayfield had tons of time to survey the field, move around and make his throws.
- 3rd and 3 and Allen lofts a deep ball 5 yards over Beasley’s head who is in double coverage. What are we even doing out here man?
- Josh Allen’s obligatory weekly fumble. They are getting old every week. It was incredibly fortunate Feliciano fell on it. Horrible ball security. Again.
- Lee Smith penalties. They are getting old every week.
- Dawson Knox drops. They are getting old every week.
- Why do the Bills look so lost when teams use 2 backs in the game? It’s more than random chance after the last few games.
- Where is Singletary? Eight rushes and none in the 4th quarter? Really? He is one of the few weapons they have. Use the man.
It is only one game but when the season’s tale is finally written, we may look back at this one as the one that got away. Their playoff margin of error took a real hit Sunday in a game they definitely could have won with any kind of execution on all sides of the ball. Onward to resurgent Miami, now on a 2 game winning streak. Most assuredly it won’t be easy.
Editor’s babble: Yup. This is the one we may look back on with serious amounts of regret. Thanks to Joe for his contributions to our blog. You can find Joe on Twitter @Joe_Tauriello.