The Buffalo Bills are recovering from a brutal loss against the Giants. The good news is they get to leave the potentially hostile confines of Buffalo and head to Tennessee to play the Tennessee Titan Ducks. At 2-2 and have not reached the tough stretch of the season, this is as close to a must win game for the Bills as possible this early in the season.
The Titans offense through three games has been up and bad depending on the defense they were facing. Against the horrible Bucs defense they looked great but struggled mightily against the average Browns defense. This week the Titans offense will have their toughest opponent in a Bills defense that has dominated every offense without Tom Brady.
The Titans offense is led by their first round pick Marcus Mariota. Ken Whisenhunt has done a really good job building an offense around Mariota’s strength and not forcing him to make NFL reads before he’s ready. A lot of his throws are from designed quick throws and the majority of his throws he doesn’t have to go through his progressions. A lot of the Oregon offense has been incorporated and lets Mariota move around to give him easy throws to build his confidence up. At running back they use whoever the hot hand is whether it’s McCluster, Sankey, Andrews or West, they will use all of them if possible.
The good news is Rex Ryan has owned rookie QBs and Mariota isn’t any different. I expect the Titans to incorporate primarily quick passes to avoid Mariota getting sacked ten times. The Bills defense has been playing primarily press which will mitigate those quick plays from killing them as unlike Eli and Brady, Mariota is not a precision passer. The Bills defense will shut down the short passes and force Mariota to attack downfield. Like the Giants, in the deeper passes they will have seven or guys blocking and only have one or two guys go out. The good news is the Bills corners have done a pretty good job stopping the deeper passes and unless Rex does something stupid like put Darby on Dorial Green-Beckham, the secondary should limit the deep passes. The biggest potential mismatch will be Delanie Walker and if Aaron Williams is back, that threat might be mitigated as Duke Williams will not be out there ever. The run game is also not a problem as the Bills have had no problem stopping the run. I expect the defense to shut down Mariota and unless the Titans get gifted some flags, should struggle to get points.
Boobie and Boom Show
The Giants copied the Patriots blueprint and shut down the Bills offense. The Titans don’t have someone clueless like Kevin Coyle at DC which means they probably will be using a similar strategy this week. For the Bills to be successful like they were against the Dolphins and Colts, they have to adapt or else they will struggle yet again.
The run game will be the biggest key for the Bills. Shady McCoy and Karlos “Los” Williams both look to be out this week which means Boobie Dixon and Boom Herron will be getting the bulk of the carries. Neither is a great runner which means the Bills will have to get creative. The Titans don’t have a great run defense which means if the Bills should be able to have success running the ball. I expect more exotic runs and if Tyrod is healthy, use his legs more. The Bills shouldn’t be passing 40 times a game which means the run game is necessary for this game.
The passing game was shut down in the first half of the Giants game and the Bills can’t let it happen again this week. The Titans will more than likely play contain with their defensive line and take away the short passes and force Tyrod to throw it further than ten yards towards the middle of the field. Tyrod hasn’t been able to do that effectively so far and if he wants to have success today he needs to do that. If the Bills want to have success throwing they need to abandon the short hitch route that Tyrod loves throwing as defenses have keyed in on it and have shut it down. Look for Big Play Clay to get involved again as with Sammy Watkins nicked up, Clay is the main target on offense. Last week the Bills did a great job designing plays to get him the ball and this week I expect nothing to change. The Bills should attack the Titans vertically as the go route is the throw Tyrod is most comfortable throwing. The passing game doesn’t have to be great, just better than it was last week.
Overall the Bills need this win. It is a very winnable game against a team with an extremely overrated QB. The defense if they stick to press coverage and pressure Mariota constantly should yet again have lots of success. It’s the offense that needs to improve, and if Roman can call a better game, it should happen.