In what was as close to a must win for the Bills, the Bills pulled a Bills and lost to a team they had no business losing to. Against a Chiefs team that really isn’t great, the Bills blew ample opportunities to win, just like they did the last two years against the Chiefs. Just like the last 2 years, the Chiefs game might be a turning point when the wheels fall off.
How Not To Play Defense: Rex Edition
Rex Ryan inherited a top 10 defense that retained the talent and even upgraded at the #2 corner spot. This year has been a bumpy right for the defense as Rex has had no idea how to use a talented front four, dropping them into coverage and not letting them do what they were paid to do. Last week against the Patriots was Rex Ryan’s best game of the year as he did everything possible to create havoc and kept the Bills in the game. However against the Chiefs, with a front four missing Kyle Williams and Mario Williams, decided to not create pressure and instead drop as many guys into coverage as possible. Against an offensive line playing backups in multiple positions, the Bills dropped 8 or 9 in coverage and relied on guys like IK and Carrington to create pressure instead of Jerry Hughes and Dareus. The result was Alex Smith actually throwing a deep ball and connecting on them. On both TD passes, Dareus was in coverage because apparently a 300+ pound lineman is great in coverage. The Rex play calling showed yet again he has no idea how to use talent and why he should have taken the Falcons job.
It Was Fun While It Lasted
The gameplan this week seemed to be feed Watkins and feed him often as the first half he was targeted 9 times and was dominating a Chiefs defense that many thought was pretty good. Even if he was being double covered, he was still winning match-ups and was on pace to have a huge game. However in the second half, he was only targeted one time for zero yards and that is when the offense shut down. Rex said the reason why was they were dictating coverage on Watkins, however after watching coaches film, they really didn’t do anything different than the first half. The had a corner play press with safety help and even then, Watkins was getting open and needed the ball. For how talented he is and how well he does when he gets the ball, you would think he would be targeted all game long.
Tyrod Taylor had a fantastic 1st half. The deep ball was working and when the deep ball is working for Tyrod, good things happen. Based on his 1st half, he was on pace for a gigantic game but like Watkins, the 2nd half was the exact opposite. In the 2nd half Tyrod was a completely different QB, he wasn’t throwing to Watkins and was playing very timid. I still believe he is at least a little injured as I noticed his arm slot has changed to more of a sidearm motion instead of his usual 3/4 motion. Also a lot of his throws had nothing on them and throws that needed zip (the back shoulder throw to Shady in the 1st for example) were floaters and the defense was able to either bat it down or drop a pick six. There was also a hesitant Tyrod as a lot of times he had a guy open and about to pull the trigger, only to hold up and scramble around and do nothing. For as good a 1st half Tyrod had, his second half was equally as horrible and yet again he couldn’t make it happen when the game was on the line.
When Greg Roman was hired I was initially very pleased with the hire as he was a very good run creator and was an upgrade over Nate Hackett. Early on he looked good as the offense was explosive and scoring points for the most part. However since the bye and when not playing the Dolphins, the offense has become extremely painful to watch as the playcalling became very bland and repetitive. In Buffalo, the offense is primarily in the gun and the pistol formation has been as scarce as an UF touchdown. In the gun, the favorite play for Roman has been the sweep as the majority of the run plays have been the sweep with Incognito being the pulling guard. That’s fine with Shady, however Los and especially Boobie are not quick twitch backs which makes the sweeps to them odd. Also under center, he really likes the naked bootleg which has not worked since the weak side end never bites and is able to get a free release on the QB.
The worst thing Roman has done has been his passing game which has been either a go route or a short underneath pass. Sammy Watkins was a dynamic receiver who could take short passes to the house or be a deep threat. With the Bills, it seems all he does is deep balls or sideline catches and it shows as his average depth of target this year is 20.3, highest in the NFL. Screen passes are largely gone and the middle of the field past eight yards is a barren wasteland. The passing game has been far too reliant on the deep ball and if they aren’t hitting or attempting them, the pass game is shut down. A fair part of this is on Tyrod who as a passer largely ignores the middle of the field and the intermediate routes and that limits what can be called, but for a guy who made Colin Kaepernick look like a NFL QB, he sure does make Nathaniel Hackett look competent.
Overall the defense yet again laid an egg and the offense was unable to come from behind in the 2nd half. This loss has far more damage than a loss to the Patriots or Giants as the Chiefs are a direct competitor for the Wild Card. With this loss the Bills are on the win two lose two road and look like 8-8 is in their future. The Bills have become the Dolphins.