The Buffalo Bills faced off against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night, and while the score was close, the game felt anything but that. Just six days after losing a blowout to the Tennessee Titans, the team who lost to Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game in January, Buffalo dropped a 26-17 decision to the defending Super Bowl champs.
Beating Kansas City would have been a great win for an up-and-coming Buffalo team. With a loss that left more questions than answers, the feeling about the team is far more dour than it was just eight days ago.
Buffalo needed big days from all of its key players on Monday. Instead, they had a front-row seat for a performance showing how a truly dominant team operates.
QB Josh Allen
For the second consecutive game, Allen struggled with zone concepts and with pressure. True, he had another element to battle this week—the weather—but given that part of the reason Buffalo drafted Allen was due to his physical traits that would supposedly counteract the effects of said weather, Monday’s performance was a disturbing one overall. We said that Allen would have to avoid another slow start like the one he endured in Tennessee. That did not happen, as Allen completed just 6-of-16 passes for 42 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He ran it six times for 36 yards in the first 30 minutes, as well. Allen finished the night completing just 14-of-27 passes for 122 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He carried the ball eight times for a team-high 42 yards. He missed plenty of easy throws on the night, including the first two of the game. He had a few balls dropped, as well. Overall, Allen was not sharp, as the Chiefs were able to make him hold the ball when they played zone, and they were able to influence him via pressure when defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo decided to bring blitzes. After some early MVP talk, the last two weeks have shown that Allen still has plenty of growing to do.
RB Devin Singletary
Another game, another disappointing performance from the player expected to carry Buffalo’s rushing attack in 2020. Singletary carried ten times for 32 yards. He caught one pass for a 13-yard gain on the first play of the second half. That play was a screen pass, and it was beautifully executed. It’s the kind of play I wish Buffalo would run more often, especially against a team that likes to blitz as often as Kansas City did on Monday. The offensive line isn’t helping Singletary much, as the Bills have been pretty putrid in the run-blocking department this year, and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll admitted that he has to “give the offense better plays” to jump-start the rushing attack. Designing some different run looks should absolutely be a focal point of the offensive meetings this week and beyond.
DT Ed Oliver
Oliver’s performance relative to his statistical output is a nice example of people who are often ignorant of schemes and roles (like myself, admittedly, since I’m blinded by my fan-goggles at times) clamoring for change. Oliver had three tackles in Monday’s game, none of which were for a loss, and he did not register a hit on quarterback Patrick Mahomes. I watched the game and wondered why it was Justin Zimmer breaking through the defensive line, along with Vernon Butler, and not Oliver. Well, our old friend Chris Trapasso watched Oliver’s snaps, noting that he spent most of his night playing the one-tech, which is not the position he was drafted to play. Oliver spent some time as a one-tech at Houston in college, but he was expected to be a penetrating three-tech next to Star Lotulelei. With the latter man having opted out this season, Buffalo has struggled to find a solid one-tech, which has led to some horrendous run defense so far. Oliver did his job on Monday—it just wasn’t the job we thought he’d be doing.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
I outlined the things I wanted to see from Edmunds this week. I wrote, “...it would be nice to see him come in and affect the game from the first snap—dominate run gaps, contain All-Pro Travis Kelce, and maybe add a hit or two on Mahomes for good measure.” Well, it’s safe to say that none of those things happened. With an emphasis on containing the big play, Edmunds was not really used as a blitzer on Monday night, so the lack of hits on Mahomes is expected. And sure, Kelce has made even the best players look bad, like he did to Edmunds on his first touchdown grab when he double-moved the middle linebacker before coming open in the end zone. The play that sticks out to me, though, is that fourth-down run where backup running back Darrel Williams walked untouched into the end zone. Edmunds looked like he was playing musical chairs at the line of scrimmage, dancing in and out of two holes before ultimately picking the wrong one, leaving Williams with a wide-open lane for the score. If Edmunds hits that play hard, he has a shot at blowing the whole thing up in the backfield. Instead, he hesitates, giving Williams the edge. That hesitation is becoming all too common in his game. Edmunds combined to make 12 tackles, but many of them felt like they were of the Paul Posluszny variety—seven yards down the field after Clyde Edwards-Helaire already had a first down. Of all the people who really need to step up on defense, Edmunds is at the top of my list.
CB Cam Lewis
Good news—Lewis started the game as the nickel back in place of Taron Johnson, who has struggled mightily all season. Bad news—Lewis left in the first quarter with a wrist injury and did not return, leaving Johnson to reprise his role as the nickel back. Lewis played just ten snaps before leaving with the injury. What’s interesting is that even with Johnson playing so poorly, nickel back Siran Neal only played nine defensive snaps to Johnson’s 63 on the evening. Johnson had eight tackles and zero pass breakups on the night.