During the Buffalo Bills’ Week 6 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, we saw the Bills blitz more than a few times. Under head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier, Buffalo hasn’t typically utilized the blitz too often. Truth be told, blitzing against quarterback Patrick Mahomes isn’t something most teams choose to do, either. But against the Chiefs last Sunday, the Bills blitzed just enough to add a wrinkle that caused a very prolific offense some acute problems. Let’s head to the tape for a better look!
The Bills blitz linebacker Tremaine Edmunds here. Pre-snap, four defensive linemen are ready to rush Mahomes with Edmunds in the middle. When the play starts, the right tackle takes the left defensive end, while the center and right guard both take the left defensive tackle, the left guard takes the right defensive tackle, and the left tackle takes the right defensive end. Edmunds blitzes around the center (who’s blocking the defensive tackle) and causes pressure inside, which forces Mahomes to scramble right.
Mahomes starts in the gun. At the snap, the Bills rush with one extra defender in linebacker Matt Milano (who sheds guard Joe Thuney). The Milano blitz stresses the pass protection, because right tackle Andrew Wylie doesn’t block a soul, and the tight end ends up trying to block edge rusher Von Miller (a clear mismatch). Additionally, left tackle Orlando Brown gets beat by defensive end A.J. Epenesa. As the play develops, you have both the left-side guard and tackle getting beat, while on the back side the right tackle does nothing. This creates the hit on Mahomes.
Edmunds blitzes on this play at the snap and engages Brown. This causes right defensive end Boogie Basham to come in free rushing at Mahomes, who’s forced to throw the check-down to the running back. But look at Milano, who’s running to cover the running back as soon as the ball snaps and makes an amazing solo tackle once the ball is caught. Buffalo won the scheme battle here with a perfectly-timed blitz and tackle.
This play ended up being a touchdown for the Chiefs, but the illusion of pressure forced Mahomes to make a fantastic play with his arm. Pre-snap, Milano is lined up on the left side of the defensive line showing pressure. At the snap, Mahomes looks at the running back for the check down (thinking Milano is coming off the edge and the running back will be free). Milano drops into coverage and goes to cover the running back, which forces Mahomes off the check-down to instead look back at the center of the endzone.
When the Bills utilize an intermittent blitz, it creates a good deal of confusion for most NFL offenses. Much of the time, it’s not even necessary to blitz because the illusion of pressure can confuse an offense just as much as an actual blitz package. What do you think Buffalo’s defensive game plan will employ the next time they face head coach Andy Reid’s Chiefs—more or less blitzing?