You might have heard that the Buffalo Bills lost to the Indianapolis Colts in a pretty brutal game. You might have also heard the Bills had some issues stopping the run. And you may have further heard that the interior of the defensive line didn’t exactly do well. Let’s see what happened.
NOTE: The coaches films (aka “All-22”) was not available at the time of writing, so we went with the broadcast angle. Most of the notes here were pretty obvious from even that view so at least we got lucky there.
This is 3rd & SHORT, where it’s imperative to just stay put. If the defense can just freeze the line they win. On the interior, Ed Oliver is pushed to the side and Harrison Phillips is driven back. This run got the first down, and would have likely gotten a bit extra if it weren’t for Taron Johnson shooting in.
This play is pretty similar in many respects. Vernon Butler is pushed to the side rather than Oliver this time. Phillips is pushed back again. He reacts quickly to the run going to his left, but the swim move doesn’t free him fast enough to get into the mix.
One thing that popped is how much better everyone was on pass plays. That includes the interior guys. I bring this up, because Ed Oliver shows off good skill in navigating through the line and nearly gets there for a tackle for loss. The GIF shows Butler being pushed to the side out of the gap again.
I’m not really sure this GIF needs much explanation.
Harrison Phillips is pushed aside, then knocked over. Ed Oliver has his shoulders turned, which negates any kind of leverage he might have had. It also prevents him from being able to shed the block and fill the gap. Ordinarily this isn’t considered a big gain. In this part of the field where the defense needs to deal with less space, this is definitely a big gain.
I’m not sure if you realized this yet, but ALL of these plays are from the opening drive of the game. That’s six plays of a 12-play drive, seven of which were rushes. There are enough bad snaps to do an entire recap in ONE drive. I did watch the entire game on defense again and things didn’t really improve overall.
I think it’s obvious that at Buffalo Rumblings we’re fans as well as writers and that can make articles like these tough to write. I’ve never thought of Vernon Butler, Harrison Phillips, and Ed Oliver as world beaters when it comes to run stopping, but they sincerely looked like different players between pass rushing and playing the run. Losses in one-on-one, getting turned away from the play, zero push. You name a problem and they showed it. To be fair to Ed Oliver, he started improving as the game went on, but by then it was too late.