"Do you Lose or do you Learn?"

"Do you Lose or do you Learn?".

I love this quote. Let's say it again and let it sink in.... "Do you Lose or do you Learn?".....

Emmanuel Sanders said this in an interview recently in reference to his approach after the embarrassing loss to the Jags. I hope that this approach is embraced by the whole team. If it is, then I feel good about the remainder of the season.

I am not one to wish for Losses, but if you do lose, I think this is the only way to proceed. Despite the Bills' fairly good start to the season, there have been a lot of warning signs that the offense was not running on all cylinders. Prior to the Jags game, there were some slip ups against the Steelers and the Titans, the defense was very good and they were taking the ball away to give us short fields, the offense was stuttering, but Josh and company were pulling some magic plays out of their butts so we were scoring points at a good clip. When you win concerns are not as concerning. When you lose, concerns are magnified. Sometimes over magnified.... . Either way, I think the only way to take this loss as a reason to look hard at yourself, learn from it, and move forward. This team is still very good and it is not time to knee jerk and throw the baby out with the bath water. But I do think this loss can be used by McD to re-focus the team into the "Growth Mentality" culture and turn this into a positive.

"Learning" Resources:

The natural tendency is to look for the one thing or person to blame and if we can fix that, then everything will be better. I do that too sometimes. However, in this case, I don't think it is that easy.

For me, when I have concerns, I like to dig in and understand. Here are some resources that have helped me.

Interior OL:

In this article Skarekrow focused on the Titans game, there were some points that stuck out

  • The OL does not handle stunts well. Some of this is consistency, but I think a big part of it is that they don't see stunts in practice. Frazier rarely stunts, so they may only see them in the film room. It is hard to get good at this unless you practice it live. This is just a hunch of mine, but it makes sense to me. If it is not something that you defense does in games, then I can't imagine they practice it much.
  • This game showed how matchups with this OL matter. Feliciano drew the matchup with Jeffery Simmons and it did not go well. This is not a Feliciano-only issue. The whole OL has this issue. They are all average. Matchups matter. Here are some of the examples from the rest of the season...
    • Steelers - Williams vs TJ Watt. Feliciano vs Heyward, Dawkins vs Melvin Ingram
    • WFT - Ford vs Daron Payne
    • Titans - Feliciano vs Jeffrey Simmons
    • Phins - Feliciano vs Raekwon Davis
    • Jags - Dawkins vs Josh Allen, Williams vs Duane Smoot, Ford vs Taven Bryan

Red Zone Offense:

In this article Jon Boccacino discusses how defenses have collectively defended the Bills in the red zone with a 3-man rush and dropping everyone else into coverage. This leaves fewer receivers open and amazingly teams are still getting pressure on Josh. Even so, our 2021 Red-zone TD % was only 6% less than 2020. What this meant to me...

  • Our OL is not great -€” 3-man rush and they are getting the 3rd highest pressure rate
  • Teams don't respect the running game of the Bills
  • Even considering these stats, Josh is not far off of the 2020 Red-zone TD %. So he is still making it work. This article was posted before the Miami game and in the Miami game, the Bills were 3 of 4 in the Red-zone, but I think it proved this specific point even more. If you saw how we scored in the red-zone, it took some herculean and Houdini-like efforts by Josh to convert on some of these plays. This was a big "aha" game for me. It showed that the base offense struggles with miscues and moving the ball on schedule, but is rescued by some heroic plays by Josh. As we know from the Jags game, the hero effect doesn't always work. We need to make the base offense work better to limit the number of heroic moments. I know Josh is getting crushed for being a "sugar high" hero, but be careful for what you wish for. I still think that he makes more than he botches. He is a special talent. He needs to still improve his decision making and come up with better tactics to beat the blitz, but the team also needs to be better around him.

General Offensive Woes:

In this article Skarekrow highlighted the Miami game and the struggles in the 1st half. Things that stood out to me...

  • It has been a team effort in creating stumbles for the offense
    • Dawkins and Feliciano blown up in zone runs
    • WRs are important in zone run blocking and our WRs are not good at it either, specifically Emmanuel Sanders
    • Sweeney is not the blocker that I thought he would be
    • Some miscommunications on plays
    • Botched blitz pickups

The Run Game:

This was a really interesting video. It touched on the topic that everyone is talking about. Her are some great insights

  • The Bills run a high rate of RPOs. RPOs and specifically Power/Gap run blocking do not work well together. O-linemen are hamstrung in this concept because they cannot push their defenders downfield or they will be penalized for illegal receiver downfield. This is why most RPO teams use zone blocking
  • A great explanation of how good zone run scheme blocking makes the decision for the RB
  • The OL struggles with run blocking, but the Bills RBs are also not great at it
  • Getting better at the running game will help counter all of the 2 high safety defenses that are stifling the pass game

The Offense vs the Jags:

This video was a pretty comprehensive look at many offensive woes, but also some good plays

  • The pocket collapsed quickly, specifically up the middle (Ford and Boettger)
  • Josh missed some quick early reads
  • Josh made some crazy good throws and plays. He also made some smart check downs
  • Drops
  • Stupid penalties
  • More OL issues with stunts and exotic pressures, but also some 1:1 failures with Dawkins, Williams, and Ford
  • Some bad decisions by Josh due to pressure and just late throws
  • Beasley played hurt and it showed


For me, these resources were good therapy. Even though these articles and videos showed some flaws in the team, it was good to "learn" and understand. The issues were very broad. No one issue or player to blame. There were a fair number of the flaws that are correctible. That gives me hope. I hope the team takes Emmanuel Sanders' advice and "Learn" instead of "Lose". I think they can. I am not one to root for a loss, but when it does happen, a loss like this could be the motivation that the team needs to focus on "Learning".

What did you see in the analysis?

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of