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.
This week the Seattle Seahawks come to town with one of the worst defenses in recent memory. The Bills’ offense has an opportunity for a return to its first-month form and they’ll likely need it to keep pace with Seattle’s explosive league-leading offense. How can the Bills clip the wings of the sea chickens and announce to the league that they’re contenders? I have some thoughts.
Throw the ball
It seems obvious, but with last week’s game plan offensively for Buffalo being run-heavy in nature and New England obliging by playing six and seven defensive backs, it should be said that a return to 60/40 pass-run ratio should be on tap this week for Buffalo. In 2019, the Seahawks played base 4-3 defense more than any team in the entire league, even consistently matching up their base 4-3 against opponents 11-personnel. They drafted linebacker Jordyn Brooks already having a stellar linebacker combination of K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner in part because of how often they run with three linebackers on the field. These tendencies make it improbable they utilize a defensive game plan similar to New England, and the running game won’t necessarily find the easy room it found against dime and quarter looks from the Patriots.
The solution is to return to passing the ball. Expect pressure from Bobby Wagner and the return of Jamal Adams, as both have been effective blitzers. In addition, the Seahawks will have former Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap on the field for the first time since they traded for him. The Bills should counter with RPOs to take advantage of vacancies and quick screens to get numbers advantages on the perimeter.
Zone on defense and maintain rush lanes
Russell Wilson, like Josh Allen, has a tendency to hold the ball. The Bills’ secondary is going to be asked to cover two explosive Seattle receivers longer than they should. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are one of the best receiver duos in football and have the speed to break away from Buffalo’s lack of secondary speed. The answer is to drop into zone and stay disciplined in their pass rush lanes to keep Wilson drifting back in the pocket. The key is to avoid giving zone defenders facing him difficult decisions between crashing down and taking away the quarterback run or staying true to their zones and getting gashed on key third down plays. A similar game plan to the Kansas City Chiefs game might be utilized, but the Seahawks may not be able to take advantage of it as well as the Chiefs did with a banged-up running back room and a less formidable defense.
...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!