The Buffalo Bills finally had their “get right” game on Sunday with a thorough beat down of the talent-deficient and heavily injured Miami Dolphins. Similarly to how every worry Bills Mafia was harboring became legitimized in the loss to the Cleveland Browns last week, this game was the antiseptic to nearly all of those concerns.
The phish were certainly squished
Brian Daboll’s play calling consisted of a heavy dose of Devin Singletary with 16 productive touches for 79 yards. Josh Allen connected on his first pass of the season where the ball was in the air for 25+ yards—a frozen rope touchdown to John Brown. Allen also nearly aced the eye test with four total touchdowns and what looked like a solid step forward in his development. The Bills’ run D shackled the Dolphins to 23 total yards on the ground. The pass rush was alive and well with seven sacks on Ryan Fitzpatrick and several more QB hits.
The 17-point win marks the team’s largest margin of victory this season and epitomized the “FINISH HIM” game fans have been clamoring for all season. Finally, when the opportunity to take control of a game early without looking back was there, the Bills capitalized.
Despite all these positives, Bills fans are taking a sigh of relief rather than giving a shout of excitement. Why the hesitation to let this game mean more? Simply put, because it was the Dolphins.
The Bills did what they were supposed to do on Sunday; beat down an inferior and heavily injured team. And it is precisely because a decisive margin was the only acceptable outcome that this game is providing the fan base with calm rather than joy.
Rarely has it seemed like the phrase “supposed to” haunted a team like it has the 2019 Buffalo Bills. Buffalo was supposed to beat inferior opponents like the New York Giants, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins (twice), Washington Redskins, and New York Jets in hindsight. (Side Note: Oh how sweet it has been to see all the preseason proclamations of the Jets by the likes of Manish Mehta and Colin Cowherd whither in the blistering sun of regular season football.)
Those games have supplied the Bills with six of their seven wins and left them 1-3 in their remaining “competitive” games against the Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, and Cleveland Browns.
Whether or not the Bills should have won those four games is debatable, which is precisely the point that the 2019 Buffalo Bills are doing almost exclusively what they are “supposed to.” No more. No Less.
Fool’s gold or turning point?
It’s now likely in the eye of the beholder as to whether or not this game constitutes a turning point for a newly self-actualized Bills team. There are certainly meaningful indicators that would suggest this could be a game we look back on and point to as the moment things clicked.
Josh Allen found some semblance of his deep ball and continued to keep his greater demons (reckless throws, taking unnecessary hits, fumbles, hero ball) at bay. He continued to show near-supreme ability in the mid-range/intermediate passing game. Allen’s accuracy in that part of the field, his pre-snap recognition and adjustments, along with his ability to read the field during the play continue to literally astonish those who were hesitant to embrace his selection in the 2018 draft (this podcaster included).
Lest we ever forget how far we’ve come from the fears of Allen consistently skipping balls off the turf to players or sailing them over the head of his receiver in the flat, you need only one thing to remember. There are no hospitality-tent throws in Josh Allen’s arsenal and we had all better damn well remember how much progress that means he’s made with evidence that progress is still being made.
Fearless and free
Additionally, the coaching staff and players seem to have recognized that the time for playing “fearless” has come. Much was made of coach Sean McDermott telling Josh Allen to play fearless this week and what that may have brought out of him and Brian Daboll’s offense as a whole.
In what seems to have been a moment of synergy, a story from Matthew Fairburn at The Athletic described how Tremaine Edmunds gave an impassioned speech to the team Saturday night encouraging his teammates to remember what motivated them to play the game as kids and to recapture that energy to play “free.” Safe to say it seems that encouragement manifested itself in some way on Sunday.
Whether or not these messages from McDermott, Edmunds, and others have any staying power to next Sunday and beyond is the question that remains. Fans will spend the next six days hoping that they do until the Denver Broncos come to New Era Field in another match-up the Bills are “supposed to” win.
You can follow me on Twitter @NickBat and look for episodes of “The Nick & Nolan Show” podcast on the Buffalo Rumblings podcast network.