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All-22 analysis: Buffalo Bills and the Sack-a-palooza

Kinda ridiculous actually

In celebration of the Buffalo Bills’ defense taking the number-one spot for the 2021 season let’s celebrate with some gloating All-22 analysis. Here are some fun stats to think about. Zach Wilson threw for 87 yards. The Bills defense pushed the Jets back 82 yards via sack. The Bills had more sacks (nine) than Zach Wilson had completed passes (seven). I think it’s clear what the topic is this week.


Play 1

The first sack of the day didn’t really look like a sack. Zach Wilson throws the ball backwards to Jamison Crowder who...sorta, kinda looks like he might try a pass for half a second. As a result of that half second, Crowder is a passer and therefore this gets logged as a sack.

Not that it matters much, it could have just as easily been logged as a tackle for a loss. The Bills racked up ten of those. Jordan Poyer, who is working contain on the edge is the last player to purse Crowder and gets the credit. This was a team effort to penetrate the backfield and make sure wherever Crowder was supposed to pass was locked down.

Play 2

Boogie Basham gets the credit on the stat sheet, deservedly. Credit is also deserved just about everywhere else on defense. Zack Wilson navigates the pocket and buys plenty of time as noted in the GIF. He can’t find anywhere to go with the ball.

Play 3

The move I point out by Mario Addison is a whole body affair, but it’s the shoulders that are the easiest to see. Addison fakes like he’ll cut inside, but changes direction to the outside. It’s not just the cut that makes this work though. The shift in his upper body means the attempted block is a whiff and Addison is around his opponent.

Play 4

There’s likely some shared responsibility in not identifying Jordan Poyer as blitzing and getting a block on him. Anyone who had a hand in it failed and Zach Wilson is seeing the turf. Now’s a good time to mention that Buffalo also had ten QB hits. On 20 attempts.

Play 5

I’ve spent a lot of time this year talking about the versatility of the defensive ends. Specifically, the tendency Buffalo has in kicking them inside for passing downs. Versatility is a trait they like for all of their linemen. Here’s Ed Oliver not only playing end, but playing Wide 9.

Here are the three things I wanted to call out on Oliver’s move. First, watching his left arm and upper body, you can see Oliver lean in and essentially uppercut. His opponent’s shoulders turn as a result. Think of Oliver as a gear meshing with another. He forcefully causes the other “gear” to rotate. The second thing is that this gear action allows the resulting spin move to be very effective. The offensive lineman’s body is nowhere near the position he needs to stop Oliver.

The third thing is this: That’s pretty wild from a tackle.

Play 6

Here’s Mario Addison in Wide 9. Then Wide Other 9. Then Wide Running Crazy Across the Field.

Play 7

Zach Wilson is nearly taken down by Jerry Hughes. There’s a brief moment where he looks like he might throw it left, but Matt Milano is unblocked and patient enough to watch Wilson. Milano hesitates (in a good way) to read the play, jumps to cut off the passing lane then runs down the quarterback.

Play 8

This pocket is decimated nearly immediately from all sides. Wilson tries to bail out and make something, anything happen. Ed Oliver and Jerry Hughes are there to stop him.

Play 9

A.J. Epenesa has to work for this, with three Jets players getting their hands on him. None of them do a particularly good job but, more importantly, Epenesa keeps his balance and surges forward.


Summary

One fifth of the Buffalo Bills’ season totals for sacks occurred in this game. On one hand you might think that this level of success on defense shouldn’t be expected on the regular. On the other hand, the Bills have led the league in pressures pretty much all season. While they may have some games/stretches where the ultimate pressure of a sack doesn’t occur that often, they’ve made a habit of making quarterbacks uncomfortable.