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Crumbling their cookies: How the Buffalo Bills should attack the Los Angeles Chargers

Every week, I write an opinion column on a few general game-planning tactics I like for the Buffalo Bills to use against their upcoming opponent—ones I think have a chance to be successful based on personnel usage and scheme along with the strengths and weaknesses of each team. These may take many forms, though I typically try to come up with at least one tactic on offense and one on defense.

The Bills come out of their bye week hopefully recovered from a heartbreaking Hail Mary (I refuse to call it “Hail Murray”) loss to the Arizona Cardinals the last time they took the field. They will face a Los Angeles Chargers team with a sensational rookie quarterback and Offensive Rookie of the Year frontrunner in Justin Herbert. What can the Bills do to send their opponent back to the West Coast with an L? I have some thoughts...

Corners are key

Justin Herbert targets Keenan Allen almost twice as much as the next-targeted receiver on the Chargers’ roster. It’s the “Randy Ratio” all over again in Los Angeles and with good reason. Good things happen for the Chargers when they target Keenan Allen so keep going to that well. Tre’Davious White, it’s time for you to do that thing you do. White’s ability to cover Allen one-on-one will free up safety resources to help over the top of secondary wide receiver Mike Williams, who possesses the size and vertical route tree to create problems at the catch point down the field for any combination of Josh Norman, Levi Wallace, and Dane Jackson. In this particular game, I’d prefer to see Norman and Jackson take the majority of the reps against Williams. They possess the physicality that will be necessary to compete for the balls that Williams has been prone to winning thus far this year.

Do to them what Arizona did you to

The Arizona Cardinals were able to confuse the Bills’ protection on multiple occasions by putting multiple men at the line of scrimmage in a muddled front and bringing a different four or five every time they did it. Zone pressures created by the dropping of a lineman to replace the blitzer on the back end ensures you’re not losing numbers in the secondary. The Chargers’ offensive line is a weak point, and although Herbert has been a revelation thus far as a rookie, he’s still a rookie. Make their jobs harder, not easier. The blitzing capabilities of Jordan Poyer, Taron Johnson, Tremaine Edmunds, and even A.J. Klein should not go unutilized here.

Bust out the zone beaters

Gus Bradley’s defense is what it is, plenty of zone, usually not blitz heavy, and based on execution precision and pressure from the front four. At this point in the season and coming off their bye week, the Bills should have answers for any soft zone that is designed to limit big plays, and they’ve seen it multiple times this year. Whether it’s a smash concept or routes to the flats, the team and Josh Allen should be ready with the expected ways to win against zone and in particular, Cover-3.

...and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’m Bruce Nolan with Buffalo Rumblings. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @BruceExclusive and look for new episodes of “The Bruce Exclusive” every Thursday and Friday on the Buffalo Rumblings podcast network!