Notes from the Bills' O-Line: Week 3 vs New Orleans

I postulated before the Buffalo Bills' Week 3 matchup with the New Orleans Saints that New Orleans would blitz (and run blitz) like maniacs. After all, the Pats and Bucs had each worried obsessively about Terrell Owens and Lee Evans. In each case, they were eaten alive by underneath passes and runs; Buffalo won one game and should have won both. Unlike the Pats and Bucs, the Saints had the offense to trade touchdowns with Buffalo, so I thought they'd go with a pressure defense. It turned out that I was half right, or half wrong if you want to phrase it pessimistically.

I counted 22 blitzes on 42 passes, but the Saints only loaded the box on 4 of 20 run plays. The Saints dared T.O. and Evans to burn them on repeated blitzes. Buffalo responded by gaining a paltry 99 yards against those 22 blitzes (4.5 yards per blitz). Combined, the Bills had more drops (3), sacks (2), balls thrown away (1), bad passes (1) and offensive penalties (1) than first downs (5) when blitzed. Look for the Dolphins to bring the heat in Week 4, which could be interesting in that the drops, bad passes and penalties are all unforced errors - and therefore correctable.

Drive 1
Run 1: Fred Jackson -1 yard through the A gap

- 91 got inside of Demetrius Bell. Andy Levitre went to the second level and tapped 51. Geoff Hangartner (henceforth referred to as "Hang") and Eric Wood blew 98 off the line. 94 jumped inside of Jonathan Scott and should have had a tackle for loss (TFL). Scott killed the play. Derek Fine never really blocked anyone.

Pass 1: Fine 10 yards against a 5-man blitz
- Bell stopped 91. Levitre and Hang doubled 98. Wood would have picked up a twisting DT if Scott hadn't. Scott, however, should have directed his attention first to the blitzing DB instead of just waiting around for the twisting DT - who Wood would have gotten anyway.

Pass 2: Josh Reed 14 yards against a 5-man blitz
- Scott tried to pick up 55, but 55 was dedicated to breaking off his rush and hitting Jackson to keep him from being Trent Edwards' outlet receiver. Levitre's DT got around him but too late to stop the play. Hang turned 98 and pushed him past Edwards. Wood stopped 94 and Scott did an okay job on 58.

Pass 3: Reed 9 yards against a 5-man blitz
- Everyone blocked like it was a run to the left while Edwards did a bootleg. The Saints were, as predicted in comments made last week, all over Fine in the flat. While it's great that Buffalo has found some plays that work well, the downside is that defenses start to recognize those plays and take them away. It's time to put this particular play on the shelf for a while.

Run 2: Jackson 4 yards through the right B gap
- Bell pushed 58 upfield. Levitre turned 91 out and away from the play. Hang got no push but neither did 98. Wood and Scott had initial double on 94. Wood kept after 94 while Scott peel to pick up 51. Fine locked up 58 on the edge of the line of scrimmage (LOS).

Pass 4: Thrown away against a 5-man blitz
- Bell abused 20 on the LOS. Hang and Levitre doubled 91. Wood danced with 98 before he dropped into coverage on Jackson. Scott and Fine doubled 94.

Pass 5: Owens juggle-drop against a 5-man blitz
- Bell stopped 58. Levitre was pushed back by 91 but not enough to disrupt the play. Hang did an okay job on 98 who twisted to try to go between Wood and Scott. Wood pushed a DT inside and picked up 98. Scott stuffed 55. Owens dropped a first down even though he had multiple chances to secure it before going out of bounds.

Pass 6: Screen to Jackson for 6 yards
- Fine helped Bell contain 91. Levitre, Hang and Wood got blocked on 55 and 98 and then let them go to get in front of the screen. Jackson outran them so he had no blocking. Scott let 94 get upfield but didn't turn to lead the play.

Blitzes: 5
Stacked box: 0
Drive killed by: Owens' drop of a certain first down

Drive 2
Pass 7: Thrown away

- Bell pushed 22 past Edwards. Levitre stuffed 91's spin move. Hang helped Bell with 94 who stuck with 94 instead of passing him off to interior linemen - thus letting the DB force Edwards to throw the ball away. Wood never turned his head to see the rushing DB, though really it isn't the typical assignment for a guard.

Run 3: Jackson 2 yards through the left B gap
- Bell missed the cut on 91 who made the tackle. Levitre chucked a DB then locked up 58 and kept him out of the play. Hang got a 3-yard drive on 98. Wood drove 94 and put him down. Scott chipped 94 then drove 51 five yards. Fine was thrown down while blocking 55 but kept him busy until the play was all but over. Jonathan Stupar followed 93 on a circle around and behind the play.

Pass 8: Reed for 18 yards against a 5-man blitz
- 91 zipped past Bell and almost had a sack. Levitre tried to follow 58 on a stunt and lost him in the mass of humanity. Hang handed 98 to Wood and picked up a twisting 94. Wood blocked 94 until he twisted to Hang. Scott helped with 94 but never turned his head to see blitzing safety. Fine saved the play by throwing a leaping DB, sending him rolling into another DB.

Pass 9: Evans drop against a 5-man blitz
- Bell pushed 58 past the corner. Levitre stopped 69 and Hang stopped 98. Wood kept 94 on an outside arc and Scott beat 55 to the corner.

Pass 10: Jackson for 9 yards against a 5-man blitz (plus 15 yard roughing the passer penalty)
- Bell stopped 58. Levitre was pushed back into Edwards by the DE. Hang turned Hargrove from the passing lane. Wood easily handled a spin move by 94. Scott pushed 55 past Edwards.

Pass 11: Jackson 0-yard catch against a 5-man blitz (Jackson slipped after catching pass)
- Bell and Levitre doubled 69. Bell didn't even look at a blitzing 20. Hang handed 92 to 70. Wood waited for 92 but 92 dropped back when the pass was thrown. Scott handed 97 to Fine and picked up a blitzing 51.

Run 4: Jackson 4 yards through the A gap
- Bell got inside of 69, who managed to get in on the tackle - but only after Jackson was four yards downfield. Levitre put an arm on 69 then stood up 55 at the second level. Hang pushed 92 to the right and opened the run lane. Wood popped 51 at the second level. Scott locked onto the DE and wouldn't allow him a clean release. Fine did a great job on 52 on the edge of the LOS.

Pass 12: Fine drop (may or may not have been a first down depending on run after catch)
- Bell stuffed 91 and kept his arms down. Levitre and Hang tag-teamed 92. Wood waited for a LB to blitz and helped Scott with 94 when the LB stayed in coverage. It looked like Scott's initial good block turned into an uncalled hold.

Fake FG for a 25-yard TD.  Bobby April bailed out the offense.

Blitzes: 4
Stacked box: 0
Drive killed by: no one

Drive 3
Run 5: Jackson 4 yards through the right C gap

- Bell pushed 91 down the line and around the pile. Levitre and Hang drove 98 down the LOS. Wood got an 8-yard push on 94. Scott went to the second level and hit 51, who eventually got in on the tackle. Stupar kept 55 out of the play. Fine had a half-hearted block on 58, who made the tackle.

Run 6: Jackson 12 yards through the right C gap
- Bell and Levitre doubled 91 and then Bell peeled and shoved 50 five more yards. Hang stood up 98. Wood chucked 98 and then hit 51 at the second level. 51 slipped his block and was in on the tackle. Scott got under 94's pads when he tried to move inside and wouldn't let him turn back to chase the play. Stupar drove 55 all over the field. Fine kind of ran in circles without blocking anyone.

Run 7: Jackson 6 yards through the left C gap
- Bell went to the second level and popped 50, who was in on the tackle. Levitre turned 91 in circles. Hang didn't follow 98 when he dropped back to chase the play. Wood chucked 98 and missed a filling 51. Scott locked up 94 and rode him down the LOS. Stupar did another solid job on 55 while Fine corralled 58.

Run 8: Xavier Omon 5 yards through the right C gap - Wood called for holding
- Bell got a 2-yard push on 94 with Levitre's help. Hang got a little push but lost his balance and fell, allowing 98 to get in on the tackle. Wood went to the second level and locked up 58 - very clearly without holding him. Scott drove 94 inside and was almost certainly the guy they called the hold on. It really didn't look like a hold, as the defender turned while being blocked, but was the sort of call the refs had promised to make this year. Stupar and Fine shut down 55 and 58 on either end of the line.

Pass 13: Fine 9 yards
- Bell and Levitre stopped 91 while Hang and Wood stopped 92. 94 turned Scott in a circle and got a run on Edwards.

Run 9: Jackson -3 yards through the left B gap against an 8-man front
- Bell and Levitre blew 50 and 51 well into the second level. 91 shot inside of Hang and made the TFL, killing the play. 92 got inside of Wood but not quickly enough to stop the run. Scott missed a cut on 94. Stupar was pushed back into the run lane by 53. Fine missed 41 at the second level.

Blitzes: 0
Stacked boxes: 1
Drive killed by: Hangartner's missed block on 91

Drive 4
Run 10: Jackson 4 yards through the left C gap - Stupar holding

- Bell chucked 91 then peeled and picked up 51 in the second level. Levitre turned 91 from the run lane and drove him 4 yards. Hang popped 98 and when they separated hit him again. Wood went to the second level and locked up 58, refusing to turn him loose to chase the play. Scott got a little push on 94. Stupar literally tackled 55 by the ankle when 55 shed his block. Fine kept a LB on the other side of the formation.

Pass 14: Fine 7 yards
- Bell allowed 91 to get under him and turn the corner. Levitre and Hang doubled 98. Wood pitched into 98 when no blitzers appeared. Scott stuffed 94.

Pass 15: Sack -12 yards
- 91 got around the corner to chase Edwards. Levitre and Hang kept 98 on the LOS. 94 knifed inside of Wood and got the sack. Scott hand fought with 93.

Pass 16: Horrible overthrow
- The line easily handled a 3-man rush

Blitzes: 0
Stacked box: 0
Drive killed by: Wood allowing the sack

Drive 5
Pass 17: Reed 10 yards against a 6-man blitz

- Scott beat 55 to the corner. Levitre pushed 91 away from the pass lane. 98 took himself out of the passing lane but then spun back inside to get to Edwards. Wood dropped back like a tackle but had no one to block. Scott fired into 94 like he was a guard.

Pass 18: Scramble for 11 yards against 5-man blitz
- Bell pushed 58 well past the corner. Levitre did an okay job on 91. Hang pushed 98 to 70 in order to pick up blitzing 55. Wood had 94 and pushed him to Scott to pick up 98. Scott shoved 94 to the ground.

Pass 19: Parrish for 5 yards against a 6-man blitz
- Bell chucked 91 but never looked at the blitzers (41 and 27). Levitre handled 91. Hang took 98 on a wide arc around Edwards. Wood helped Levitre with 91 and Scott beat 94 to the corner.

Pass 20: Intentional grounding (as good as a sack) against a 5-man blitz
- Bell kept 58 on the edge. 91 got around Levitre's outside shoulder leading to an uncalled hold. Hang was doing okay on 98 but then abandoned him to pick up a blitzing 55. 98 promptly tackled Edwards. Wood fell down while helping Scott with 94.

Pass 21: Evans 8 yards
- 91 threatened Bell upfield then came back inside to hit Edwards. Levitre and Hang doubled the DT. Wood had no one to block so he and Scott handled the DE.

Blitzes: 4
Stacked box: 0
Drive killed by: Hang leaving 98 to block a blitzer who Edwards may well have beaten to the outside of the pocket, making the intentional grounding a manageable 3rd-and-5.

Drive 6
Run 11: Jackson 6 yards through the left C gap

- Bell pulled and cut a filling 51. Levitre pulled really wide but wasn't fast enough to get in front of the play. Hang got inside of 98 and kept in from of him, shielding him from the play. Wood missed a cut on 98. 94 knifed inside Scott and chased the play from behind.

Run 12: Jackson 10 yards through the left C gap
- Bell drove 91 inside and then down. Levitre locked up 57 and drove him 7 yards. Hang popped 98 and turned him away from the run lane, then drove him 2 yards for good measure. Wood wouldn't let 94 of the LOS when he tried to chase the play. Scott popped 58 at the second level but 58 shed his block and was in on the tackle.

Pass 22: Thrown away
- The line again blocked like it was a run to the left while Edwards rolled out. The Saints were all over the play. So much for shelving a play that isn't working...

Pass 23: Incomplete long pass to T.O. against a 6-man blitz
- Bell kept 93 from making the turn at the corner. Levitre kept 91 near the LOS and hang took 98 on an outside arc around Edwards. Wood had no one to block and waited for a blitzer in his area. Scott did a good job keeping 94 from cutting inside and then stopped him when he tried to go outside instead. It wasn't a great pass - it seemed to be underthrown - but it also didn't seem that T.O. was overly interested in trying for it either. Give Edwards credit for going for the long pass when he knew T.O. would be open, even if it wasn't a good throw.

Pass 24: Fine -1 yard
- The Saints rushed 3 and the line easily contained it, particularly since Fine chipped 94 for Scott before going out on his useless pattern.

Blitzes: 1
Stacked box: 0
Drive killed by: Edwards' miss on the TO pass

Drive 7
Run 13: Jackson 4 yards thorugh the right C gap

- 91 jumped inside of Bell to chase the play. Levitre locked up 58 at the second level. Hang fell while trying to block a DT. Wood drove 94 3 yards and put him down. Scott chucked 94 then went to the second level and wiped out 51. Stupar helped Bell with 91 and Fine blocked 55 well enough to let Jackson get past.

Pass 25: Evans 11 yards against a 5-man blitz - defense late hit penalty
- Bell's LB fell before reaching the corner. Levitre stuffed 91's spin move. Hang stopped a DT. 94 slipped as soon as he made contact with Wood. Scott helped keep 94 down when 93 stunted away from him.

Pass 26: Evans 9 yards
- Bell never looked at a blitzing DB and really had no one (else) to block. Levitre, Hang and Wood easily stopped a pair of DTs. Scott, unlike Bell, learned from the earlier play in which 2 DTs and 2 DBs rushed and easily stuffed the DB rushing on the right side of the formation.

Run 14: Jackson 5 yards through the right C gap
- Bell drove 51 in a wide arc around the edge of the play after chipping 69. Levitre aggressively pitched into 69 when he tried to spin. Hang and Wood initially doubled 98 and then Wood peeled and pushed 58. 94 obligingly jumped inside of Scott so he drove him to the left side of the formation. Stupar tried to block 93 but wasn't fast enough. Fine did a good job on 55.

Run 15: Jackson -1 yard through the right C gap against an 8-man front
- Bell got under 69's pads and drove him down the LOS. Levitre pitched into 69 then went to the second and missed a block on 58. It looked like he grabbed and tried to hold 58 - uncalled. 98 worked inside of Hang and got in on the tackle. Wood dug 94 off of the LOS and back 2 yards. Scott fell down helping with 94. 55 shed Fine's block and made the TFL. Stupar crossed the formation and missed the block on a LB.

Pass 27: Edwards scramble for 2 yards - ticky tack personal foul on 69
- Bell pushed 69 inside like Bell was a guard. Levitre dropped back like a tackle to pick up a LB at the corner. Hang and Levitre doubled 94. Scott couldn't beat 32 to the corner, though at least he saw him and tried. Omon picked up 32.

Run 16: Jackson 5 yards through the A gap
- Bell chucked 91 then hit 51 at the second level. Levitre drove 91 three yards and put him down. Hang and Wood doubled 98. Hang turned him away from the play while Bell peeled and got enough of 55 to put him down. 69 jumped inside of Scott and almost had a TFL. Stupar kept 55 on the edge of the LOS and Fine neutralized 93.

Run 17: Jackson 2 yards through the left C gap
- Bell turned 91 inside and into the pile. Levitre hit 55 at the second level and drove him 5 yards. Hang got a bit of a push on 92 but 92 slipped his block and was in on the tackle. Wood blew 69 3 yards off the line and put him down. Scott chucked 69 then locked up a LB. Fine kept a LB on the edge of the LOS while Stupar let 58 run upfield and out of the play.

Pass 28: INT against a 5-man blitz
- Bell and Levitre doubled the DE. Hang stuffed a DT and Wood kept 69 from elevating. Scott picked up 58 at the corner. It was just a bad pass that looked like it hit the DB's hands. Once it was up in the air there were 8 or so Saints right there to make the INT.

Blitzes: 2
Stacked box: 1
Drive killed by: Edwards' INT

Drive 8
Pass 29: Thrown away

- The line easily handled the 3-man rush, but the 8 defenders meant there was no one open to throw to.

Run 18: Jackson 6 yards through the right B gap against an 8-man front
- Bell rode 91 across the formation. Levitre couldn't get in front of 92 to block him. Hang went to the second and flattened 51. Wood gave a little ground to 94 then cut him. Scott went to the second level and planted 50. Fine had a half-hearted block on 41, who was in on the tackle. Stupar locked up a LB.

Pass 30: -3 yard sack - Wood called for tripping
- Bell pushed 91 around the corner which would have been fine had Edwards not been stumbling around. 91 got the sack but it wasn't Bell's fault. Levitre put 58 down when Hang handed 58 to him. After handing off 58 Hang helped Scott with 94. Wood cut 92, unfortunately right into Edwards' feet, causing him to stumble and letting 91 sack him. The tripping call was completely bogus.

Blitzes: 0
Stacked box: 1
Drive killed by: Wood allowing the sack

Drive 9
Run 19: Jackson 4 yards through the right B gap against an 8-man front

- Bell missed the cut on 91. Levitre pulled and plowed into the scrum. Hang got an initial stiff arm on 98 and popped him again as 98 reached the point of attack (POA). Wood pulled and nailed a LB at the second level. Scott pulled and took out a LB at the POA. Fine shielded 55 from the play and Stupar did an okay job on 94 at the POA.

Pass 31: Evans 3 yards (Seriously? Gazelles running in between rhinos?)
- Bell beat 55 to the corner. Levitre took a DT to the inside. Hang set to block 98 but 98 dropped into coverage. Wood had no one to block. Scott took on a DE early and slowed him to a crawl.

Pass 32: Overthrow to T.O.
- Bell beat 91 to the corner while the rest of the line stuffed twisting DTs. Fine was left to handle a DE on his own, which he did just fine (pun). T.O. was open but the pass was just a yard or so too long. It was a TD waiting to happen.

Blitzes: 0
Stacked box: 1
Drive killed by: Edwards' inaccurate throw

Drive 10
Pass 33: Reed 12 yard against a 5-man blitz - Wood called for being downfield

- Chambers, in for Bell for the rest of the game, pushed 69 past the corner. Levitre and Hang planted 92. Wood abused a blitzing 20, again pretending to be a tackle. Scott, pretending to be a guard, pushed 94 into 92.

Pass 34: Fine 11 yards
- The line easily stuffed a 3-man rush.

Pass 35: Fine drop against a 5-man blitz
- Chambers hit 41 and pushed him into the DT. Levitre and Hang doubled the DT. Wood had no one to block and Scott beat the DE to the corner.

Pass 36: Reed 8 yards against a 6-man blitz
- Chambers went to the corner with 91, who then beat him back to the inside. Levitre and Hang doubled 98. Wood picked up a blitzing LB and Scott stuffed a LB on the LOS. Needing 2 scores with only 7 or 8 minutes in the game 4th-and-1 seems like a pretty good bet...

Blitzes: 3
Stacked box: 0
Drive killed by: Fine's drop

Drive 11
Pass 37: Owens incomplete out of bounds against a 5-man blitz

- Chambers stuffed 41. Levitre pushed 91 to Hang who stopped him. Wood had no one to block and Scott beat the DE to the corner. It sure looked like Owens could have gotten both feet down instead of just going out of bounds. He can cry all he wants about his ‘consecutive games with a catch' streak (which is complete and total BS since he has missed games due to injury) coming to an end, but this was the second time in the game he had a ball on his hands and didn't make the reception.

Pass 38: Sack -5 yards
- Chambers kept 91 from turning the corner. Levitre had no one to block. Hang was destroyed by 98 for the sack. Wood tried to help with 98 when Hang went down, but wasn't fast enough. Scott kept 98 on the edge.

Pass 39: Sack -8 yards against 6-man blitz
- Chambers stopped 20. Levitre stuffed 91 despite the fact that 91 had, and kept, his hand under Levitre's facemask - uncalled illegal hands to the face. Hang circled 98 around the QB. Wood helped with 98. Scott was beaten around the corner by 94 for the sack.

Pass 40: Jackson 12 yards
- The line easily managed the 3 man rush.

Blitzes: 2
Stacked box: 0
Drive killed by: Owens' drop

Drive 12
Run 20: Jackson for no gain through the right C gap

- 59 slipped Chambers' block and made the tackle. Levitre pressed 92 into 97, who was being stood up by Hang. Wood and Scott sealed 92, 97 and a LB to open the run lane. Fine ignored a run blitzing DB who was in on the tackle.

Pass 41: Reed no gain
- The line easily stopped 3 defensive linemen while Fine and Jackson took on a LB.

Pass 42: Thrown away against a 7-man blitz
- Chambers stopped a LB. Levitre hit 92 who then backed out and stunted. Hang stood up a DT. 20 got inside of Wood who then held him grievously - uncalled. Scott beat 39 to the corner but when Edwards was flushed 39 was in position to chase him.

Grades

Player Run Pass
D. Bell 77.1 72.6
K. Chambers 55.0 72.8
A. Levitre 78.0 74.5
G. Hangartner 73.0 74.0
E. Wood 80.0 73.1
J. Scott 73.0 73.1

I wouldn't read too much into Chambers' 55%. He was in for exactly one run play and it was a bad one for him. Of greater concern are the combined 18 bad pass plays the line had. The Saints had the equivalent of 5 sacks, an awful lot for a team not exactly renowned for defensive prowess. Look for defenses to begin to mimic some of the rushes the Saints threw at the Bills, specifically rushing 2 DBs and 2 DLs. Bell never did figure those out.

Run plays by gap
LC LB A RB RC
5-28 2--1 3-8 3-14 7-29
5.6 ypa -0.5 ypa 2.7 ypa 4.7 ypa 4.1 ypa

As with Chambers' 55% I wouldn't worry too much about the dismal -0.5 ypa in the left B gap as the team only ran there twice. The yards were there to be had, though it seemed that Buffalo got away from the run game. Quite often it was out of necessity as someone created a negative play. That, in turn, led to bad down and distance combinations in terms of rushing.

On that note, there was a piece Brian wrote yesterday regarding unforced errors, and the Bills made many of them. I was appalled at how many times Edwards was reduced to picking up snaps from the turf during the game. That should be automatic, but apparently isn't with the Bills. I counted 7 bad snaps, or one out of every six passes. When the passing game is predicated on quick reads, it doesn't help that the QB has to spend the first second of the play looking down at his feet.

Drops continue to be a problem, as do errant passes from Edwards. Drops led to several punts, while bad throws cost the team at least 10 points - the INT stopped at least a tying field goal, and Edwards' overthrow of T.O. would have been a go-ahead touchdown. Buffalo can't afford to let those opportunities slip away.

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