The Bills for another year will miss the playoffs as they continue to circle the wagons. The playoff drought has expanded to 16 years and is now old enough to be drag racing with the rest of the Bills. Now they can look to the draft and see what else Rex Ryan can do to turn this team into the Florida Gators.
Abandon the Neutral Zone
In the NFL before the rule changes of a few years ago, whenever a defender steps into the neutral zone but immediately comes back, it isn’t a penalty unless the ball is snapped. Now however, whenever someone jumps into the neutral zone, one of the offensive lineman jumps up and points fingers like they were back in preschool. The rule change makes it so the advantage is only on offense because whenever a defender jumps due to a hard count or a false count, one of the offensive lineman (even one not even near the defender) jumps up and starts pointing fingers after the defender goes back to his side and boom, easy five yards. It is another disadvantage for the defense who were already behind the eight ball.
How it relates to the Bills-Eagles game is the center for the Eagles for the entire game was doing an illegal snap that was never getting called. What Jason Kelce did before each snap was squeezing the ball like he was going to snap it but he wouldn’t snap it. What it does is move the ball slightly and with defenders trained to move based off the movement of the ball, it deceives the defense and the offense ends up getting an easy five yards. The refs noticed this once and originally called false start but Hochuli would have none of that as he was too busy kissing his biceps and went with the offsides ruling from then on. It was frustrating to watch and another bad mark on officials who have already has a horrible year. Maybe they should replace them with ACC refs.
Deep Ball or Bust
The Bills offense was its usual up and down roller coaster as there were big plays, then the three and out parade. The run game with the running backs has gotten predictable as the majority of the time it will be a shotgun sweep with Incognito pulling. With these slow developing plays, the defense a lot of times was able to pursue and stop it, or even hit it before it even begins. It seems like Roman has adapted to what McCoy does well which is moving outside the tackles and go from there but this is like when Hackett always ran CJ Spiller up the middle, you do it enough and teams figure out how to stop it. If it wasn’t for the QB scrambles, the run game would have been horrible.
The passing game like the run game has also gotten very predictable. It is either a deep go route or a short 3-5 yard pass with little or anything in between. This is nice when the deep balls are connecting and to Tyrod’s credit, he does a really good job throwing the deep ball but after a while defenses figure it out and you need some variety. During the game, the Philly safeties started reacting to the obvious deep ball and started creeping over to that receiver, leading a lot of the deep balls being thrown into double coverage. On one they got lucky Watkins is so good but on the others, the safety made a play to stop the ball or it was bad enough throw that no one caught it. This new change of philosophy has shown the past month as each game Tyrod has completed less than 56% of his passes and the offense has stagnated for long periods of time. Since Tyrod is going to be the guy next year at QB, they might want to figure out how to make him throw more than a go route on 3rd and short.
At Least the Defense played well
Rex has been hit or miss on defense as some weeks he doesn’t know what he’s doing and other weeks he’s a genius. This week like last week was in between as the Bills for the most shut down the Eagles offense. Bradford was his usual awful self and when the Eagles weren’t getting away with pass interference, they were stagnant. The run game did nothing and only Ertz on offense was able to consistently make plays. The only concern was with Bradham out, the linebacker play in coverage got exposed. Overall, it was a performance I would take and hope Rex eventually realizes he has a talented defense.
In conclusion this along with the Chiefs game are what will keep the Bills out of the playoffs. The Bills have been too inconsistent all year in all three phases of the game and unless they are playing the Dolphins, struggle mightily. The Bills will probably be looking for a new return man as Thigpen did his best McKelvin impersonation this week. Now the Bills look towards the draft where their first pick will most likely be a someone on defense to fit Rex’s stubborn scheme.