Arrow Up/Arrow Down: Bills-Redskins

The good and the bad from the Bills' 24-9 win over Washington

Sal Capaccio
November 03, 2019 - 11:00 pm
Categories: 

The Buffalo Bills beat the Washington Redskins 24-9 on Sunday to improve to 6-2 for the first time since 1993.

It’s good to get back to the arrows pointing up to start:

 

ARROW UP:

  • Second half run defense

I’m not sure yet exactly what adjustments were made yet, but the Bills defense had an incredible turn around in the second half as opposed to the first half when it came to stopping the Redskins' running game, and particularly Adrian Peterson, who already had 101 yards on just 10 carries in the first half. In the second half, he ran for only seven yards on eight carries, and all of them came on their third play of the half when he ran for eight yards. After that run, here are the yardages of Peterson’s runs the rest of the game: -3, 0, 4, 0, 0, -2. Whether it was scheme or simply playing better, whatever they did worked.
 

  • The opening drive

Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll called a terrific opening drive, and the Bills offense executed it perfectly. The drive covered 54 yards in eight plays, which, in sequence, gained four, three, 11, nine, two, 17, two, and six yards for the touchdown to cap it. Every play was for positive yardage. No miscues. No penalties. Great balance of five runs and three passes with a variety of personnel and formations. It played out exactly how it was scripted.
 

  • RB - Devin Singletary

Bills fans had been clamoring for Singletary to get more touches. Well he certainly did with 20 rushes and three receptions, and he made the most of all of it, totaling 95 yards on the ground (4.8 yards per-carry) and another 45 from the air. His 140 yards from scrimmage was the most by a Bills player since LeSean McCoy’s 147 against the New England Patriots in 2017.
 

  • DT - Jordan Phillips

Phillips actually started this game instead of Ed Oliver, who had been there since opening week. He’s been playing well all season, but showed why he’s the team's best interior defensive lineman right now, finishing with three tackles, including two for a loss, a quarterback hurry, and a sack late in the fourth quarter. That sack was Phillips’ sixth of the season, which leads all NFL defensive tackles.
 

  • WR - John Brown

I have to go back and check, but Brown may actually have an arrow up in every single game this season, and it’s been well-deserved just like it is after this one. Brown finished with four catches for 76 yards, becoming only the second Bills player ever with eight straight games of four or more receptions and 50 or more yards, joining Hall of Famer Andre Reed, who had a streak of eight games spanning the 1988-89 seasons. He’s also the first Bills receiver to open a season with 50 or more yards receiving in the first eight games since Eric Moulds did it in the first nine games of 2002.
 

  • Josh Allen’s efficiency

Allen didn’t do anything special, but he played well and was extremely efficient. He completed exactly 70% of his passes, going 14-for-20 for 169 yards, and for the third straight game didn’t throw an interception. Allen has now gone 89 straight passes without a pick, which is a personal high. He also threw for his second-highest yards per-attempt of the season at an even 8.00.
 

  • CB - Tre’Davious White

White picked up his first career sack and added four tackles and a quarterback hurry. He covered Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin wherever he lined up, which was a change for the defense. Prior to Sunday, White had primarily only been on the left side all season. McLaurin had four catches for 39 yards. I'd expect White to travel with Odell Beckham, Jr. next week against the Cleveland Browns.
 

  • Andre Roberts' kick return

The Redskins had just scored for the first time in the game, cutting the Bills lead to 10-3. Roberts was about four yards deep in his own end zone, but decided to take the ball out anyway. He found a lane and zoomed though it for 66 yards. The Bills then went 39 yards in 11 plays to score a touchdown and go up 17-3. That return was the longest for the Bills since C.J. Spiller went 102 for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in 2014.
 

  • K - Stephen Hauschka

Despite a stiff and swirling wind that definitely had an impact on the ball, Hauschka converted all three of his 33-yard extra point attempts, and also a 42-yard field goal attempt.
 

  • Third down offense

The Bills converted half of their third down attempts, going 6-for-12.
 

  • Third down defense

The Bills held the Redskins to converting 2-of-11 attempts on third down, which is only 18%.
 

  • Red zone offense

The Bills came into the game with the best red zone offense in the NFL, converting 70.6% of their trips there into touchdowns. They were even better than that Sunday, going 3-for-4 (75%).
 

  • No touchdowns allowed

The Bills held the Redskins out of the end zone, despite Washington getting down to the Buffalo 21-yard line or closer three different times. The Redskins have now failed to score a touchdown in three straight games for the first time since 1950.
 

  • Penalties

The Bills committed only two enforced penalties for 20 yards.

 

ARROW DOWN:

  • First half run defense

The Bills looked exactly as they did last week against the Philadelphia Eagles when it came to not stopping the run in the first half. Maybe worse. Adrian Peterson tore through them for 101 yards on just 10 carries.
 

  • Short yardage offense

The Bills were not good on critical short yardage plays. They were stopped three straight times form the Redskins' one-yard line (running the exact same play each time) before scoring a touchdown on an Allen sneak. Then, they were stopped on a 3rd-and-1 for negative yardage, causing a punt, and a 4th-and-1 for no gain, turning the ball over on downs.
 

  • Josh Allen’s fumble

As much as Allen was efficient throwing the ball and, once again, not throwing any interceptions, he did fumble again, and again on a designed keeper after gaining good yardage but then running into defenders. This one was on 3rd-and-7, Allen gained six yards and fumbled. The Bills recovered it, but that set up the 3rd-and-1 they didn’t convert that was mentioned above.
 

  • From the two-yard line to the 24-yard line

On their second possession of the game, the Bills were set up with a golden opportunity having 1st-and-goal from the Redskins' two-yard line. Then, Allen took a sack for minus-6 yards, Isaiah McKenzie was tackled for minus-8 yards after a short pass, and a poor snap resulted in Allen scrambling and getting sacked again for minus-8 yards. That’s 22-yards in the wrong direction. From the two to the 24, the Bills had to settle for a field goal instead of, what should have been, a touchdown.

 

THE BIG PICTURE:

Jim Kelly. Thurman Thomas. Andre Reed. Bruce Smith. 

Those are just some of the names on the Bills the last time the team started a season 6-2 or better back in 1993. It’s been 26 years since the franchise has been in this position.

They’re not perfect by any means, and no one is going to mistake this group of players for the Hall of Famers. But so far, through the first half of the 2019 season, they’ve taken care of business, with their only losses coming to the Patriots and Eagles, the teams who’ve won the last two Super Bowls and have three Super Bowl appearances between each other in that time.

Of course, the Bills' wins haven’t exactly come against the heavyweights of the NFL this year. In fact, the Bills have played the easiest schedule in the league through the first half of the season, with their opponents having only a .328 win percentage. However, as I’ve stated many times, that’s not the Bills' problem and doesn’t matter. They didn’t pick their schedule. They’ve played the one that was handed to them, and they’ve beaten the teams they’re supposed to beat, according to those records. That’s the sign of a well-coached team.

After this game, I read a lot of Bills fans on social media still upset or complaining about how they won. Not having a 300-yard passer, again. Not scoring more points. Not beating a 1-7 team by more than they did. People can look at it how they want, but here’s the reality: the Bills beat the Redskins by more than they were expected to, according to oddsmakers in Las Vegas (they were favored by 10 and won by 15). The Redskins' point differential for the season was -12.0 per-game coming into this contest. The Bills beat them by 15. They played the exact game we should expect from them by now, especially against an inferior opponent, and that is to play excellent defense and not give up many points while scoring enough points on offense but not pulling away and struggling to be consistent.

That’s who the Bills are, and so far, who they are has translated into 6-2.

Looking ahead, the teams coming up on the Bills' schedule don’t have very good records. In fact, the next three opponents have a combined 6-19 record as of right now.

However, there are going to be plenty of challenges, starting next week in Cleveland, who even though they’re 2-6, they have so much talent that many picked them to win their division this year. Coming into this week, the Browns had averaged 5.56 yards per-run, which is best in the NFL. Given the Bills' struggles against the run the last couple weeks, that will certainly be a challenge. Then it’s the Dolphins and Denver Broncos, who both looked good this Sunday in wins.

They are all winnable game. Chances to build even further on their 6-2 record and keep inching towards a playoff spot.

If they were to get that seventh win, it will exceed what oddsmakers in Las Vegas had them pegged at for the entire 2019 season! 

So you can keep telling everyone how the Bills haven’t played anyone good. You can keep citing passing statistics, or the run defense, or whatever holes you want to find to pick them apart. There are plenty of them to use for ammunition.  

Or, you can take a look at the standings, realize they’re 6-2 and a full two games up in the wild card race, and enjoy the second half ride. It’s about to get a lot more exciting.



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