I’m not sure if you heard or not, but the Buffalo Bills beat Kansas City in preeeeeetty convincing fashion on Sunday Night Football (that turned into Monday morning football). A major factor in this victory was a plus-four turnover differential favoring Buffalo. That’s just fun, and I felt this week it warranted some All-22 attention. This is in no way an attempt to use my weekly analysis feature as a means to rub it in.
Siran Neal’s forced fumble
With this kind of play there’s always a bit of luck. Things are happening super fast, and targeting the ball for a turnover is sketchy at best. That said, Siran Neal absolutely does a lot of what the Bills have been coaching for years to try to generate turnovers. Neal takes a nice angle and launches (legally) toward the ball. He’s almost certainly going to end the return with a possible turnover as a bonus.
As an aside, if you’ve followed my analysis over the years, you know that Buffalo has been average to slightly above in turnovers since head coach Sean McDermott took over the team. Overall, data suggests it’s very difficult to “coach” a team to a high turnover rate. However, I do think coaching helps set a floor. I don’t anticipate Buffalo’s defense ever falling off a cliff, even if some years aren’t sky-high (this year is starting to look like it might be sky-high).
Micah Hyde’s interception
At first glance it’s easy to chalk this up as “right place, right time.” And that’s true to an extent. The thing I want to highlight though is WHY Micah Hyde ended up in the right place. If you’ve been keeping up with analysis following this game you’ve likely heard that the Bills rushed four almost the entire game. Pro-football-reference.com lists A.J. Klein as the ONLY player on the Bills called in for a blitz. It was only once too. On 54 passing attempts by KC.
Look what that did for the back end of the play. At the pause, every single receiving option has someone glued to them. And the safeties are in boxes rather than circles because they’re free to read Mahomes and react to the play. Micah Hyde does. The best case for KC is a short gain as Hyde is screaming in for the tackle. Look at his trajectory. He’s coming in so fast toward Tyreek Hill he can’t avoid a collision even after catching the ball.
Greg Rousseau’s interception
One of the reasons Greg Rousseau has seen the field so much is because of how much he doesn’t act like a rookie. Groot is not a one-trick Buffalo. While he’s raised eyebrows with pass-rush skills this is classic Frazier/McDermott contain. Groot is reading and reacting to Mahomes. He sees the ball about to come out and slips the block to get in the passing lane. Clearly it worked. Here’s the other angle...
I wanted to show this angle too because the Bills are still playing the back end like we saw above. The stop in the GIF is a serious question. Where was this play going even if it HAD been a completion?
Patrick Mahomes’s fumble
And yeah, sometimes there’s luck. I point out Hughes because he has a good shot at ending this play no matter what. His quick victory around the edge is the reason Mahomes can’t field the ball as the lineman accidentally kicks it out of reach.
Coming into the game there was a LOOOOOOOT of chatter about how the Bills’ defense hadn’t “faced anyone” yet. My counter to that was simple. Yes, the Buffalo’s D had bested some backups and faced a fading Roethlisberger. However, they hadn’t just beat the teams they should have. They had drawn legitimate comparisons to teams that were historically good. And the defense proved it this week. They’re legit.
The Bills are on pace for 51 turnovers. That’s not likely to occur (though I hope it does). However, looking at these turnovers as a snapshot of what Buffalo is up to shows a lot of what’s making them successful this year. The front four is good enough to cause chaos on their own against many teams. The back-end players are able to hold up in coverage. Basically all 11 players can rush at any given time and the Bills aren’t shy about letting the opponent see that first hand. Simply put, the Bills are fielding a full defense of good to great players and the Frazier/McDermott tandem seems to know how to scheme.