clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bills continue to bully Bill Belichick’s Patriots

The Bills have won five of their last six against New England

Once upon a time, when the Buffalo Bills’ schedule was released, Bills Mafia would circle the two games against New England and mark them as losses. Months before the season even began, Brady, Belichick, Gronk, and company imposed their dominance over the Bills. As a fanbase we were beaten down, and knew what to expect. The games Buffalo won—yes I’m talking about the Ryan Fitzpatrick come back win in 2011—live on as unforgettable memories due to their rarity and the idea of the Bills even being competitive against the Patriots.

Fast Forward a decade and I’d say things have come a long way for professional football in Western New York. With the Week 13 win on Thursday Night Football, Buffalo has now won 5-of-6 against New England. In these five wins, the Bills’ average margin of victory is 17.6 points. Buffalo has manhandled the Patriots and it’s beautiful to watch every time.

Head coach Sean McDermott, defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frasier, and offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey have combined to build and execute a fantastic game plan this season. For this week’s edition of Mr. B’s breakdown, we’re going to take a look at how this trio of coaches have put players in position to succeed and, in turn, made Belichick and the Patriots look inept.

Bills coaches have set up offense to succeed

Even though Buffalo only put up 24 points on offense, the unit dictated the entire game—dominating time of possession. The Bills held the ball for 38:08 compared to just 21:52 for the Patriots. The efficiency of the run game allowed Buffalo to stay ahead of the chains, extend drives and churn up the clock.

Take a look at this 2nd & Long gain by running back Devin Singletary. Normally a run on this down & distance is not the play call I’d like to see out of the Bills’ offense. Singletary turns the run into an 11-yard gain and a first down.

Singletary and rookie running back James Cook maximized their carries as they split the workload and combined for 5.9 yards per carry. Buffalo has been a pass-heavy offense for much of the season, but in Week 13 the offense went run heavy—calling 37 runs to 33 passes. Following the game, McDermott was happy with the play calling Dorsey.

“I thought Coach Dorsey did a really good job of changing it up,” McDermott said. “When the run is working like it was at times, just being able to stick with it. And sometimes it wasn’t, but it’s going to happen like that, and just being able to stick with it, I thought he was very patient in that regard and the O-line, I thought did a very good job up front.”

Using this balanced attack, the team was able to complete its fifth touchdown drive of 90 yards or more on the season. If the Bills are able to carry this type of success down the stretch, it would take pressure off the defense and help keep high-flying offensive teams like the Miami Dolphins or Cincinnati Bengals—two teams remaining on the Bills’ schedule—off the field.

Allen to Diggs never gets old

Buffalo’s superstar duo continues to produce career seasons to the benefit of one another. In Foxboro, MA, Allen connected with Diggs seven times for 92 yards and a touchdown. What I loved best about Diggs’ performance was all seven of his receptions went for first downs. He continues to be one of the most reliable receiver’s in the NFL. Couple that with his top-end route-running ability, and it’s no surprise to see Diggs among the lead leaders in yards, receptions, and touchdowns.

This overhead view of Diggs’ touchdown highlights just how hard he is to cover.

This camera angle gives a detailed look at a few things that must make Dorsey smile, which we’ll bullet here:

  • The offensive line held up to allow Diggs’ rout to develop;
  • New England’s defensive back, Jonathan Jones must guess which direction Diggs will cut his route;
  • In a split second before Diggs breaks out to the sideline he rotates his hips, giving the DB behind him the impression he would be cutting to the middle of the field;
  • Instead Diggs stays balanced, makes a cut at full speed to the sideline, and catches Allen’s throw while keeping both feet inbounds.

Diggs is an All-Pro player and I’m thankful Brandon Beane made the move to pair him with Allen.

Ken Dorsey making adjustments

Josh Allen’s red zone struggles this season are no secret. He may not have totally put them to bed yet, but the last two games Allen sure has improved. The Bills have six touchdowns in their last seven red zone attempts. Against the Patriots, it was the ground game that paid dividends. In 14 red zone snaps, Dorsey and the offense ran the ball nine times. One of these runs featured a vintage Allen hurdle attempt as he galloped for an eight-yard run on 2nd & 8. I’m sure McDermott and Dorsey hold their breath every time Allen does something like this, but how can you not love the guy for it.

Running Allen in the red zone will be a critical part of this offense if it wants to continue to improve on their red zone numbers. McDermott, while happy with the improvement, wants to score all the time, but gave credit to his offensive line coach after the game in his post game comments:

“Yeah, absolutely. Again, the offensive line, Coach Kromer, they’ve done a great job, and that’s really where the game is won a lot of times. I thought they had a good plan coming in and executed.. I’d rather 6 for 7 than 0 for 7 (In the red zone). But those points are important, right. When you get the ball down there in the red zone, you’ve got to cash in, and we’ve done that the last couple of weeks.”

Defensive Dominance Continues

Buffalo’s defense, even though they lost Von Miller, got back two huge pieces to their unit, Tremaine Edmunds and Jordan Poyer. These two guys, even in contract years are invaluable to the defense as a whole. Say what you want about signing them to contract extentions, the team is not the same when they don’t suit up and play. The last three games without Edmunds, the defense gave up 33, 23, and 25 points. Jordan Poyer continued his undefeated streak this season, as the Bills have won every game Poyer is on the field.

Edmunds made six tackles on the day, three of which stopped the offense for no gain. The other three plays held New England to two yards, four yards, and five yards. Against a stout running offense, he played outstanding.

This tackle show below, the Patriots run out of shotgun. Edmunds follows the football identifying the run, finds the gap Stevenson is supposed to run through, fills it, and gives the running back no where to go.

As happy as we are to have him back, Edmunds is happy to be healthy and get back to being the leader of this defense down the stretch.

“Man, it felt good. You know, it’s never good missing games, but it felt really good and I’m healthy now,” Edmunds said of being back on the field. “No setbacks right now, so I just have to keep going and continue to trust and do what I have to do off the field to continue staying healthy.”

Final Thoughts

I read a quote by Doug Peterson the other day and thought it fit this Bills team well.

“Pass to score, run to win.”

Buffalo will always be a feared passing offense with the weapons they do have. They have proven they can throw all over teams, but with some of Allen’s struggles/injury, the run game is critical to keep the pressure low on the superstar single-caller. Doing this will keep defenses honest, open up the play-action passing game more, and make Allen’s life easier when he does want to push the ball downfield. It forces teams to plan for a multifaceted offense that can win different ways, making them a nightmare matchup in the playoffs.

Now with Buffalo sitting as the No. 1 seed in the entire AFC, they control their own destiny in their race for a first-round bye and AFC East crown. Buffalo has an opportunity to take a stranglehold on the division with two home AFC East matchups on deck and if they take this balanced offense into these next two contests, these opponents better look out as the Bills will look to bully their other division opponents on their way into the 2022 playoffs.