The Buffalo Bills made the playoffs in 2017 and were one of the truly feel good stories last season. It had been 18 years since the Bills made it to the postseason but in head coach Sean McDermott’s first season, they ended the long drought. This organization is headed in the right direction under McDermott’s leadership, even though they’ve had a few bumps in the road so far in 2018.
The Bills have won two of their last three, beating two 2017 playoff teams in the process. They held the Vikings and the Titans to a combined 18 points. In fact, they were 17 point underdogs up in Minnesota and put one on the Kirk Cousins-led Vikings offense in US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. This is a tough, physical team that has taken on the demeanor of its head coach. It doesn’t score much, but the defense more than picks up the slack. It will be one of the best units the Texans will face this year.
It’s been three seasons since the Texans faced the Bills and plenty has changed since that December 2015 matchup. In fact, the Bills only have two offensive starters/two defensive starters from that game less than three years ago. Furthermore, over the past two years, the Bills named a new GM, signed a new head coach and drafted a rookie quarterback to take the organization into the future.
With that as a backdrop, let’s get to Know the 2018 Buffalo Bills
Schedule - Record (2 - 3)
L, 47-4 @ Baltimore Ravens
L, 31-20 v. Los Angeles Chargers
W, 27-6 @ Minnesota Vikings
L, 22-0 @ Green Bay Packers
W, 13-12 v. Tennessee Titans
Rushing Yards Per game - 99.4 ypg (20th in the NFL)
Passing Yards Per game - 121.8 ypg (32nd)
Total offense per game - 221.2 ypg (31st)
Turnovers lost - 8
Bills starting offense last Sunday v. Tennessee:
QB - JOSH ALLEN
RB - LeSean ‘Shady’ McCoy
WR - Kelvin Benjamin
WR - Zay Jones
LT - Dion Dawkins
LG - Vladimir Ducasse
C - RUSSELL BODINE
RG - John Miller
RT - Jordan Mills
TE - Logan Thomas
*TE - JEREMIAH SIRLES
*Started 6 Offensive linemen
Other Key Offensive pieces*
RB - CHRIS IVORY
WR - RAY RAY McCLOUD (Rookie)
TE - Charles Clay
WR - ROBERT FOSTER (Rookie)
WR - Andre Holmes
**All Caps indicates a 2018 off-season addition
Key to the Bills Offense
Bills quarterback Josh Allen has as much god-given talent as any quarterback that I’ve ever seen in my draft prep. Here’s my scouting report on him heading into the 2018 NFL Draft.
OVERALL: Tools...he has them all...size...arm strength...mobility...confidence...can also throw his team right out of a game with his inconsistency...accuracy and ball placement...when he sets his feet, he can make any throw on the field...tends to open his shoulders due to his feet which forces some balls to sail on him...decent runner out of the pocket...at 6-5, 247, he's prototype size...gets locked in on his receivers, trusting his arm to get it into small spaces...touch throw in the Senior Bowl for a touchdown was as impressive as the bullet throws he completed...must show that he has command of that fastball at all times...loves to compete...played in the Senior Bowl with no concern about getting injured, in fact said as much in interview...made a throw in 2016 where he was chased to the right sideline by a defender and then let fly a bomb, a 60 yard strike as he was nearly out of bounds...loses his awareness of rushers when he has to pull the ball down...doesn't always make right decision on type of ball to throw...should he stick it or put touch on it? All in all, he's as polarizing as it gets in this draft, but the arrow points up for me.
His rookie season has gone about as expected. McDermott and the coaching staff have pulled the reins back to keep Allen from throwing the Bills out of games. McDermott and Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll manage the game for Allen very well. Case in point, he threw the ball only 19 times for 82 yards against Tennessee. Even in the win over Minnesota, he threw only 22 times. In contrast, he threw the ball 33 times each in losses to Los Angeles and Green Bay. Consequently, he completed only 54.5% and 48.5% of his passes in each loss.
He hasn’t thrown a TD since that win over Minnesota and the Bills have only scored six touchdowns with Allen at the helm. My worry, though, is that he can create and keep plays alive with his ability to get out of the pocket, like Deshaun Watson. He’s 6-5, 237 lb., is awfully difficult to bring down and has more rushing touchdowns than passing (three to two). Sacks aren’t nearly as important this week as keeping Allen in the pocket, forcing him to deliver from the well is.
Rushing Yards Allowed Per game - 96.2 ypg (12th in the NFL)
Passing Yards Allowed Per game - 234.6 ypg (11th)
Total offense Allowed per game - 330.8 ypg (5th)
Turnovers generated - 9
Bills starting defense last Sunday v. Tennessee:*
DE - TRENT MURPHY
DT - Kyle Williams
DT - STAR LOTULELEI
DE - Jerry Hughes
LLB - Matt Milano
MLB - TREMAINE EDMUNDS (Rookie)
RLB - Lo Alexander
CB - Tre’Davious White
S - Dean Marlowe (released earlier this week)
S - Jordan Poyer
CB - RYAN LEWIS
Other Key Defensive pieces
DE - Shaq Lawson
DE - Eddie Yarbrough
CB - TARON JOHNSON (Rookie)
S - RAFAEL BUSH
All Caps indicates a 2018 off-season addition
Key to the Bills Defense
At first glance, the Bills defense being ranked 11th against the pass is solid. Yet, take a little deeper dive and it’s clear that the Texans passing game has its hands full with one of the better pass defenses in the NFL. The only receiver to register 100+ receiving yards was Vikings star Adam Thielen and that was in large part due to the fact the Vikings trailed 27-0 at the half (Thielen had only three catches for 22 yards in the first half). Just look at the numbers the Bills have allowed the leading receivers they’ve faced this year.
Ravens - Willie Snead - four for 49, one TD
Chargers - Keenan Allen - six for 67 yards, no TD
Vikings - Stefon Diggs four for 17 yards, no TD
Packers - Davante Adams - eight for 81, no TD
Titans - Corey Davis - four for 49 yards, no TD
That’s outstanding pass defense, to say the least.
Take it a step further. After giving up three passing touchdowns to the Ravens and three to Philip Rivers and the Chargers in the first two weeks, the Bills have put the clamps down. Over the last three weeks...
Vikings - one passing TD
Packers - one passing TD
Titans - no passing TD
Furthermore, the Bills have not allowed a passing touchdown to a receiver over the same time period.
Cornerback Tre’Davious White is a major reason why as he can lock up number one wide receivers in a quick minute. Safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde form one of the best safety duos in the league. It’s an excellent secondary with a very, VERY underrated pass rush.
Whoa, boy, this is going to be tough through the air, to say the least.