On a dreary and fateful Thursday night in the not so distant past, not a single break seemed to fall in favor of the Buffalo Bills. The very first offensive snap resulted in a 12-yard sack that seemed to forecast the rest of the contest. Watching the game, it may have felt that the New York Jets knew what to expect on that opening offensive play. What if they did?
As you might have guessed, the Bills started their first drive of the night with a pass. This certainly deviates from the “same old Bills” and the run, run, pass rhythm we became so fond of. It might be shocking to learn that in eight games this year, they’ve opened with a passing attempt six times with games against the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos being the exceptions to the rule.
By itself, this may not be considered all that predictable. However, of those six passing attempts, five of them shared a common element? All but one of these passes have been off play-action. To be fair to Rick Dennison, these have come from differing formations and packages, but they do show a clear predisposition toward one type of play to start the game.
Right after the 12-yard sack, commentator Tony Romo noticed that Jets defender Jordan Jenkins never even looked toward LeSean McCoy when deciding what to do on the play. When Jenkins was pinpointing where to aim himself with his best impression of a missile, he may have been fully aware there was over a 70% chance of a pass play. And furthermore, that it was highly likely to be a play-action setup which would maximize the time for a rusher to hit home.
As a defensive coordinator, it’d be hard not to like those odds.