Yeah, I know. There’s been a lot of pass rush analysis to start the season. Deal with it. The Buffalo Bills’ defensive line has been fantastic, which is fun to watch. And the offense hasn’t exactly dealt well with the pass rush, which makes for a good opponent preview. So here we are, taking a look at the pass rush of the Washington Football Team, the most fun team name to type out.
I think we all know by now I’m a big fan of the time-to-throw metric. Josh Allen is toward the slower end of the league at 2.89 seconds average time from snap to release. You might notice a common thread in the GIFs this week. Time markers are pretty consistently worked in so we can see how quickly Washington is disrupting things. On this play, there’s some bad news at the two-second mark, but not terrible. There’s enough time/room to get the pass off. Note though that three seconds might have resulted as a hit. Note further this is only a four-man rush.
Here they rush five. Additionally they make it look like it could be six or more, and use a stunting player to try to cause confusions. At two seconds the pocket is rapidly shrinking and passing lanes have hands ready to go up. The pass is complete again so for these GIFs a major takeaway is that QBs haven’t needed supernatural speed to get the ball out, but trying to extend things could be playing with fire.
The Bills have faced the Pittsburgh Steelers who basically never blitzed, and the Diami Dolphins who love to do it (but cooled it a bit against Buffalo last week). Washington is closer to the Miami side of the ledger. Like other blitz-heavy schemes, Football Team likes to mix up where the heat is coming from. You may also be reminded of how the Bills aggressively handled Miami (the Ron Rivera/Sean McDermott connection is alive and well).
Two things to note here. First, the defensive back blitz doesn’t stop the offense but limits the options it has. Second, can you believe I drew that circle free-hand? Enjoy it, the rest are my usual crappy circles.
The blitz beater was needed on this linebacker blitz as the heat was coming quick. Clearly, though, the offense was successful.
Finally, a clear victory for the defense. I have Montez Sweat highlighted—who beats his man off the edge with a stutter and swipe. There’s no way to get the pass around him and no time to find another target.
Like most teams/units some are wins and some are losses. A lot of these clips are somewhere in the middle, with the pass rush impacting the play but not necessarily stopping it. This one is a clear win.
I could have easily highlighted Chase Young (#99) who led Washington in sacks last season. Honestly that would have been a good use of time because Young is still looking pretty darn good. I pulled two Sweat clips because I felt like it’s worth a reminder that there’s more than one threat on the defense.
Last season Washington’s defense was sneaky good. They allowed the fourth-least amount of points, were second-best in yards-per-play allowed, and third-best in points-per-drive allowed. The season is still quite early but so far the results are...less good. In the cited metrics they’re now currently 16th, 17th, and 22nd. If you’re curious, Buffalo has allowed the fourth-least amount of points this year and leads the league in yards per play and points per drive.
Back to Washington. There’s a good chance that the regression is real, but don’t count on it. And even assuming they regress overall this year, I’d wager they put together some solid games. It’d be nice to see the 2020 Buffalo Bills’ offense return this week.