The Buffalo Bills’ defense has been fantastic so far this season against the run, ranking fourth in the NFL. That elite run defense showed some chinks in the armor against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football, though. The Packers were able to rush for 208 yards at a massive 6.7 yards per carry. What happened Sunday night? Was it due to volume, personnel, or something else? Let’s review the tape!
Aaron Rodgers starts in the shotgun, with running back Aaron Jones to his right side and tight end Josiah Deguara to the left. At the snap, Deguara runs right to block defensive end Greg Rousseau, while the right guard blocks down (which leaves a hole for Jones to run through on the inside of Rousseau). Then, both the center and right tackle go to the second level to block the linebackers. Jones is left one on one with cornerback Taron Johnson; Jones runs through Johnson’s arm tackle and shows great contact balance. This was a beautifully-blocked play by Green Bay, and great running by Jones.
The Bills mess up with the blitz of safety Damar Hamlin on the left side. Running back A.J. Dillon takes the handoff from the gun and runs left. Edge rusher Von Miller comes across the edge and cuts Dillon off. This forces Dillon to cut inside and run up the middle. The right tackle gets to the second level and pushes linebacker Tremaine Edmunds back, which leads to Dillon having nothing but an open field to run through. The biggest reason this long run is able to happen is because Hamlin blitzes at the snap. If he doesn’t, he’s right in the middle of the defense to make the play on Dillon. The Bills outsmarted themselves on this play.
On this play, the right guard pulls left to block Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson, while left tackle David Bakhtiari goes to the second level. Bakhtiari gets just enough of Edmunds to keep him out of the play. The most important thing to note here is the left guard pushing defensive tackle DaQuan Jones out of the play and to the ground. Deguara is then the lead blocker in the hole that opens up, and Jones follows him for a big gain.
When facing 3rd & 1, defenses can’t afford to have linemen getting blown back off the ball and using arm tackles. Unfortunately, both happened to Buffalo on this play. The run play starts with the center and right tackle both going to the second level to block Edmunds and Johnson. Jones breaks defensive end Boogie Basham’s arm tackle as he goes inside. Then, to top it all off, defensive tackle Ed Oliver gets pushed back all the way out of the play. Something important to note on this play was that linebacker Matt Milano lined up on the left edge of the defensive line (due to the Packers’ unbalanced look on that side of the line). If Milano is in the middle with Edmunds, it’s a lot harder for both offensive linemen to block them, given the play went right up the middle.
First of all, Miller is too far upfield and loses the edge on this play. Deguara pulls up into the hole and is the lead blocker for Jones. DaQuan Jones fails to shed the block of the right guard. The right tackle blocks Edmunds all the way down the field. As a result, the running back has nothing but open field to run through for a massive gain.
Overall, the Packers did a very good job blocking against the Bills’ front. Green Bay’s offensive linemen were great at climbing up to the second level and getting a body on the linebackers. Deguara was also instrumental as a lead blocker all game long. The Packers’ success running the football on Buffalo’s stout defense has made me come to one major conclusion: When the Bills really need to stop the run, defensive tackles Jordan Phillips and Tim Settle need to be in the game instead of Oliver or Jones.
Now that film is out there, do you believe other teams will use similar methods to run all over the Bills in the future—and does that concern you?